Set at the tail end of the ‘90s, My Dead Boyfriend has the feel of a small movie that would’ve been on your local video store shelves at some point towards the end of the 20th Century. This comedy directed by Anthony Edwards would’ve fit right in alongside other quirky ‘90s indies as it’s not particularly good nor is it absolutely awful. My Dead Boyfriend places an emphasis on the comedy of its quirky situations instead of, you know, actual jokes.
Mary (Heather Graham) has just returned to her New York City apartment after being fired from her job as a temp. Upon returning, Mary is hoping that her coach potato boyfriend Primo (John Corbett) has had some progress on his job search. Instead Mary discovers that Primo has suddenly passed away. Trying to move on with her life, Mary makes a series of discoveries about Primo that shocks her. She tries to make sense of all these revelations with her best friend Zoe (Katherine Moenning) while at the same time reconnecting with her long lost neighbor (Griffin Dunne), whom she believes is interested in a romantic relationship. Throughout all these various discovers, which include the fathering of a child and sexual liaisons with drag queens, Mary strikes up a relationship with a local dog walker (Scott Michael Foster), who used to walk Primo’s dog. It all culminates in an awkward attempt to scatter the ashes of Mary’s mysterious boyfriend and all the eccentrics that have crossed his path.
Adapting the novel Dog Run by Arthur Nersesian, the script by Billy Morrissette bounces between the story’s present and its past as it tries to flesh out the connection between Primo and Mary, going as far back as her days in an underground band. It’s all just an excuse to have Mary interact with a series of various eccentrics that reveal hitherto unknown information about Primo, whether it’s his poetry or his artistic work as a painter. While it is certainly trying to craft a theme about questioning how well we could truly know anybody, My Dead Boyfriend just ambles about with few scenes that resonate in the slightest. Matters aren’t helped by the exaggerated performances from some of these eccentric supporting characters, such as Gina Gershon’s ridiculous French accent or Tina Huang’s bewildering British inflection.
There are few moments of flair in Anthony Edwards’ film. Early on, there are moments where rather mundane scenes are flavored with animated flourishes that simply disappear as the film progresses. For the most part, the visual style of My Dead Boyfriend highlight the film’s obvious budgetary restrictions, sometimes looking like a second rate sitcom. One dream sequence that finds Mary surrounded by workers at a copy shop in ballet tights dancing around her as ponders her uncertain future stands out as the film’s best visual sequence, and the lone source of the movie’s personality that doesn’t seem like it was lifted from some quirky ‘90s indie dramedy.
My Dead Boyfriend concludes with a series of mounting reveals that just feel like an attempt to go broke by throwing every possible little quirky twist to the story before wrapping it all up with nice little bow and a happy ending. Heather Graham is wide-eyed and charming as she usually is, but she can’t elevate this story that relies on situations and set ups more than punchlines. Living or dead, it’s well past time to break up with My Dead Boyfriend.
My Dead Boyfriend
- Overall Score
A rather lifeless comedy that prioritizes quirk situations over actual jokes, My Dead Boyfriend spins its wheels for 90 minutes as a woman discovers her layabout boyfriend wasn’t as inert as she always thought.