Over Her Dead Body (PG-13)
Carmike 10, Chapel Hills 15, Cinemark 16, Tinseltown
The only explanation is this: Those who dominate mass entertainment are now actively making movies for the "Idiot" demographic.
There's a place for uncomplicated, entertaining movies that don't ask a lot of an audience, but that is not the case with Over Her Dead Body. This is a stilted, contrived, slapdash collection of lazily acted, badly written scenes thrown together into something that writer-director Jeff Lowell hopes you won't notice doesn't quite connect. Either Lowell must believe his audience is composed of unintelligent life forms, or he is hoping that the audience has expectations so low that they prefer to be close to unconsciousness.
The only other explanation is that Lowell a TV writer and producer making his feature directorial debut here holds women in contempt. Because this flat, utterly charmless tale becomes a horrible vision of contemporary womanhood. Through three excruciatingly false characters, he gives us women who are, at best, dumb, dishonest, thoughtless and selfish, and at worst, pointlessly vindictive bitches.
These theories of the awfulness of Over Her Dead Body are not, of course, mutually exclusive.
Is Eva Longoria Parker this unbearable on Desperate Housewives? I've never seen the show, and now I'm glad to have missed it. Here she plays Kate, who dies on her wedding day killed in a way that is meant to be ironic, perhaps, even funny. It sets up a bizarre dichotomy: It's impossible to tell whether Lowell means her to be sympathetic, which appears to be necessary for his story to hang together, or to be the villain, which also appears to be necessary.
For, you see, Kate turns from bridezilla to ghostzilla after an unexplained year in the afterlife to haunt the new girlfriend of her former fianc. The girlfriend is Ashley (Lake Bell), a psychic who is faking contact with Henry's (Paul Rudd) dead ex because Henry's sister, Chloe (Lindsay Sloane), thinks he needs to move on. Ashley is convincing because Chloe stole Kate's diary from Henry's apartment. Ashley agrees to this charade, even though, she insists, "It goes against everything I believe," because, well, this would be a far more sharply written movie if she needed an actual motivation, and as I've noted, Lowell clearly intends this to be dull-witted. Or else he intends for women to look like vacillating dimbulbs. Or both.
More evidence: Kate has no reason for not wanting Henry to move on. She's just so insanely jealous that she wants him to be lonely. Kate doesn't need a motivation, it appears, because, well, that's just how women are, right? If they're not natural liars and cheats (like Chloe and Ashley), they're natural bitches. Obviously.
It's so horrific that I wish Lowell had succeeded in distracting me with his strange injections of slapstick that bear no connection to the supposedly "romantic" story. This is a vicious, catty movie, and it's hard to see how it's an accident of incompetent filmmaking, and not Lowell's intention from the start.