04 May 2018| No Comments on Overboard     by Sean Chavel



We are more watered down and PC-minded now than we were thirty years ago. Being all morally abundant and righteous and message-heavy does not make our movie comedies better. The makers of Overboard probably really wanted to do (I believe their hearts are in it) a remake of the 1987 Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell romcom cheesefest. But the way the movie carries itself feels as if the makers got very self-conscious that they were going to get hit by criticisms from one end of the PC-spectrum to the other. Anna Faris stars as someone who wants to be in a funny movie but not be the spaz-attack ditz that she became famous for being, so she’s just bland. Eugenio Derbez is a famous star in Mexico, who… I’ll be honest, I have never seen any of his movies from his own country. To be fair, he has some decent, funny moments and peels back some layers to find some honest poignancy in his character transformation. What the movie never is, is a carefree laughfest.

I know what I’m about to say will sound sacrilege to any film junkie who knows their s***, but the Garry Marshall directed original had some of that Preston Sturges touch to it (OK, you can hate me now, but hold on). Kurt Russell worked as a blue collar carpenter on rich snob Goldie Hawn’s yacht. She was such a bitch that she stiffed him on the bill. Then she fell into the water, was awash at shore, and fell to amnesia. From there, widowed Russell took Hawn to his home of rugrat kids and convinced her that she had always been his – yikes! – housewife. Even though she doesn’t remember anything about her true life, being downgraded like that was spiritual humility. The whole thing had a Preston Sturges screwball pacing meets Coen’s “Raising Arizona” kind of riotousness, shooting out verbal gags and sight gags alternately with excellent comedic precision, it doesn’t spend too hard explaining itself, and it let the audience fill in the gaps of logic. Alright, it’s no Preston Sturges film (there film nerds, you can lower your staff scythe weapons you were about to behead me with now). But the proudly kitsch 1987’s “Overboard” is actually a good silly night in with the fam-bam.

In the remake, the writers have flipped the genders: Derbez is now the snob dipping in his yacht’s Jacuzzi with blonde bunnies on endless holidays and is in constant need of a professional carpet cleaner with all that champagne spilling everywhere, and Faris is the working class mom working two jobs and trying to pass an exam so she can become a nurse. The movie lurches to a halt any time Faris has to justify her reasoning for kidnapping this man and posing him as her husband, Faris’ kids are a nice straight-lined bunch compared to the hellions of the 1987 flick (that’s not an improvement for comedy), and boy, does this movie overall have some soporific problems with characters stepping aside to explain themselves. I want to give Faris a hug here, but her character is too succumb in a personal rut and fraught with shame over her desperate scheme, and because of that, she can never hit her stride to be truly hilarious. The director Rob Greenberg isn’t mining the classic screwball farce formula, instead, he directs some scenes as one would do a drama, as if his number one concern was making sure the audience finds all of what’s happening plausible. It never was plausible.

Finally, Eva Longoria as the best friend who has to coach Faris to be mean and merciless is… well, she’s too nice a woman in real life and so she doesn’t convince us of being a cunning friend here. Longoria’s performance is tepid.

Yes, the movie lurches to a halt too many times. That’s true, but I realize it also makes me sound over-harsh on the movie. What’s also true is I found some scenes amusing. Derbez’s character is nicknamed “Lady Hands” because he has never had a job in his life, becomes a trained construction worker and learns the joy in taking responsibility for providing for his de facto family (he also wants to win back the heart of Faris, of course, it’s strange to him why she’s not amorous). Regaining his memory might give him a predicament as to whether or not he likes the life of lavish excess over a meaningful and modest one. With this, amusement, mild humor and some poignancy.

Less discerning viewers might even like it a little more than just that. But I urge movie watchers of all kinds to track down the 1987 original. Hawn and Russell had a stylized comic panache that is unbeatable for an ’80’s comedy.

112 Minutes. Rated PG-13.


Film Cousins: “The Lady Eve” (1941); “Overboard” (1987); “Housesitter” (1992); “Clean Slate” (1994).

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Sean Chavel

About The Author / Sean Chavel

Sean Chavel is a Hollywood based author and movie reviewer. He is the Executive Director of flickminute.com, a new website that has adapted the movie review site genre by introducing moodbased and movie experience based reviews.


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