Parker ill-served in 'Body'

The multiplex is suddenly awash in movies anchored by Katherine Heigl, Dianes Keaton and Lane, Queen Latifah and now Eva Longoria Parker, star of "Over Her Dead Body."

This could mean that women have finally, suddenly, broken through industry barriers built around the presumption that women do not possess the same box-office power as men.

Or it could mean that the Super Bowl is on TV this weekend.

Recent history favors the latter interpretation. Hollywood traditionally considers the Friday and Saturday nights before the big game to be ladies nights. This has never made sense to me, since the weekend box-office tallies are generally tabulated before the game is aired Sunday evening, but it makes sense to the studios.

Perhaps they take into account the single-mindedness of the male brute, whose brain is capable of focusing on only a single form of entertainment and its accessories: Weekend. Football. Must. Buy. Chips.

Thus, if a wife/girlfriend wants to go to a movie, she's on her own.

And so we have "Over Her Dead Body," starring "Desperate Housewives" minx Parker as a woman who dies on the day of her wedding (you knew there'd be a wedding), then maliciously haunts the woman (Lake Bell) who subsequently dates her fiance (Paul Rudd).

It's not much of a role, frankly, for the luscious Parker. It confines her to a single mode of expression - jealous, vindictive, bitchy - as she devises supernatural means of making her living rival look ridiculous. It's also physically confining - Heigl had 27 dresses in "27 Dresses." Parker is stuck in the gown she was wearing when she died.

"Over Her Dead Body" turns out to be more of a showcase for Bell, who's done TV work in "Boston Legal" and "The Practice." She shows flashes of light-comedy skill under the stiff direction of writer/director Jeff Lowell.

Rudd is mostly a sideline player here, making droll remarks and looking comically baffled as his new girlfriend (a psychic to start with) displays increasingly bizarre behavior as provoked by the ghost.

This all plays out pleasantly, predictably, unmemorably, but what do I know? I'm a guy. My mind was probably elsewhere. *

Produced by Paul Brooks, Scott Neimeyer, Peter Safran and Norm Waitt, written and directed by Jeff Lowell, music by David Kitay, distributed by New Line Cinema.