Overboard misses the boat as a fresh take on the '80s rom-com
When plans to remake Overboard, the 1987 comedy starring Kurt Russell and Goldie Hawn, were announced, it at first seemed like just another attempt to cash in on ‘80s nostalgia. But with Anna Faris — a virtual Goldie Hawn clone — gender-swapping the roles from the original, it then appeared as if the film would be at least a mildly interesting update for modern times.
Not only is the film not interesting in the slightest, but it pulls a bait and switch that makes it very different from what has been advertised. Faris plays Kate, a single mom with three daughters who’s holding down two jobs while also trying to make it through nursing school. One of her jobs as a carpet cleaner puts her in the orbit of Leonardo (Eugenio Derbez), the son of a Mexican billionaire who does nothing but float around the globe on his yacht.
When Leonardo accidentally falls overboard and winds up in the local hospital with amnesia, Kate is convinced by her friend Theresa (Eva Longoria) to pretend Leonardo is her husband to get back at him for his self-centered ways. Kate proceeds to take advantage of his state mercilessly, having him work construction to bring in extra money while also doing all of the menial chores at home.
Just like the original, the setup is icky in its premise, so you have to sell the charms of the characters to make up for it. Director Rob Greenberg and writer Bob Fisher do a poor job of making that transition, making both Leonardo and Kate unworthy of empathy or respect in the process. It doesn’t help that the film is almost completely devoid of any moments of sincerity and that there is zero chemistry between Derbez and Faris.
And then there’s the bait and switch. It becomes obvious that this movie was not produced as a remake for general audiences, but for a very specific audience: Latinos. Produced by Pantelion Films (How to be a Latin Lover, Instructions Not Included), the movie marginalizes Kate in favor of Leonardo. With a big focus on his family in Mexico and elements like telenovelas, at least 50 percent of the film is in Spanish with subtitles.
There’s nothing inherently wrong with this, and in the right hands it could be perceived as progressive. But Greenberg and Fisher botch the story, and given that there are few hints of this emphasis in advertising surrounding the film, the abundance of Spanish comes off as merely a cheap way to draw in an underserved audience.
Faris is naturally likable, and she does her best to counterbalance the bad traits of her character in moments with the kids and Longoria. When Leonardo is not interacting with Kate, Derbez comes off relatively well, too. Of course, since the whole point is for the audience to want Kate and Leonardo to come together in the end, Faris and Derbez not melding well is a huge problem.
There’s very little to enjoy about Overboard, whether you speak Spanish or not. With a story that’s for the birds and two characters unworthy of any adulation, you’ll want to throw this movie overboard as soon as possible.