Directed by Anthony Edwards (yes, THAT Anthony Edwards), My Dead Boyfriend is the kind of film that thinks it is being quirky and cool and fun. And it's the kind of film that fails miserably at being all of those things.
Heather Graham plays Mary, a young woman who finds her day going from bad to worse when she gets home to discover that her boyfriend is, as you may have already guessed from the title, an ex-boyfriend, in the shuffled off the mortal coil sense. This isn't the worst thing in the world really, mainly because he was a lazy loser. Or was he? As Mary tries to make arrangements for the deceased, she starts to discover that he was quite a talented and well-known figure. He just didn't seem to make the same effort for her.
Did you know that Heather Graham is now 48 years old? 48??? I was going to replace a standard review of this movie with many paragraphs of me simply verbalising my incredulity at how Ms Graham looks almost exactly the same nowadays as she did two decades ago but then I realised that people would think me a tad shallow, and maybe obsessed with Heather Graham (whom I first fell a little bit in love with when she starred in Licence To Drive). But, come on, can we all just admit that she must have spent at least the past few years bathing in the blood of virgins? No? Okay, sorry, I'll move on.
Anywayyyyy . . . Graham is always someone I like seeing in films, which isn't the same as saying she is always right for the role. Her quality of work can vary wildly, and many would say she misses more than she hits, but I will always watch a film with her involved. This performance is a miss. She doesn't exude the right appeal that the character needs to make up for her many lousy decisions, she doesn't do well with any of the potential comedy, and she doesn't handle the dramatic moments any better.
The script, by Billy Morrissette (based on a novel by Arthur Nersesian), doesn't help, and nor does the direction from Edwards. As I said in the first paragraph, this is trying to be cool and quirky and fun and ends up not being any of those things. The characters never feel like more than paper-thin figures only moving around to make things inconvenient for one another, and the visuals and soundtrack both fail to liven up the proceedings, somehow sapping the energy from every scene rather than adding to it.
Katherine Moennig is good, but not onscreen enough, as Zoe, Mary's best friend, Scott Michael Foster is okay as a decent guy who ends up in the right place at an odd time, Griffin Dunne can't do enough to make his mishandled better seem any better, Gina Gershon gets to do an accent, and Martha Millan gets to have a chip on her shoulder, which she does well.
My Dead Boyfriend is one of the least memorable films I have watched in recent years, certainly in terms of films with one or two familiar names involved. And this is coming from someone who loves Heather Graham. If you don't like her (because some people are weird like that) then feel free to detuct another point from my rating.
You can stream the film here.
Americans can buy it on disc here.