×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Film Review: ‘Overboard’

Eugenio Derbez and Anna Faris star in a gender-flipped remake of the 1987 romcom that reveals why the original has aged into tasty cheese.

Director:
Rob Greenberg
With:
Eugenio Derbez, Anna Faris, Eva Longoria, John Hannah, Emily Maddison, Swoosie Kurtz, Mel Rodriguez, John Sagarra, Alyvia Alyn Lind, Hannah Nordberg.
Release Date:
May 4, 2018

Official Site: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt1563742/

Overboard,” the Goldie Hawn-Kurt Russell romantic comedy that came out in 1987, was not an especially popular movie at the time (it grossed just $27 million). But in the years since it has become a kind of comfort-food ’80s touchstone that a lot of people enjoy going back to; you could almost call it a cult film. In hindsight, it’s the original cheeseball contempo romcom — the first, perhaps, to have a built-in guilty-pleasure factor, the kind of movie you praise when you call it silly and corny and dumb.

It’s an amnesia comedy (an inherently tacky form), but in this case the amnesia was wedded to a neo-’50s caveman twist: Hawn’s character, who would have been described back then as a “rich bitch,” falls off her yacht and loses her memory, and she winds up being put to work as a domestic servant — in other words, a housewife — by Russell’s sexy macho handyman (her main job is to take care of his three unruly sons), all as a payback for how she verbally harassed him and ripped him off. But she comes to love her new life! It’s as if the director, Garry Marshall, took Lina Wertmüller’s “Swept Away” and turned it into a retro-kitsch family sitcom: “Everybody Loves White Trash Goldie.”

I’m not sure that even the fans of “Overboard” were hankering for a remake, and the new version does a blatantly trendy thing by flipping the genders of the two main characters. Yet “Overboard” has been made with enough bubbly comic spirit and skill that the gender switch turns out to be a smart move, from both an entertainment and commercial vantage. Like the original, the new version is a snarky situational farce that evolves into a cheese-dog fable of home and hearth, and the role reversal allows it to feel halfway fresh.

Hawn’s vicious princess is now an arrogant zillionaire playboy, played by the Mexican superstar (and terrific actor) Eugenio Derbez. The put-upon prole who takes revenge on him by placing him under her domestic thumb is an aspiring nurse with three nice daughters, played by Anna Faris. In this context, does the fact that Faris looks a lot like Goldie Hawn signify anything beyond a vague nostalgic recognition factor? Not really, but it’s something to go with.

In the original “Overboard,” the sexual politics were borderline accidental: The film may have expressed a certain undercurrent of ambivalence that women were feeling, at the time, about leaving the domestic sphere — but mostly it seemed to be an ’80s parable of wealthy and selfish vs. homespun values. It still is, but in the new version the gender politics loom both light and large. This is, after all, a movie about a male pig who gets his comeuppance, chokes on his pride, and does his penance by adjusting to the role of caretaker. It’s a therapeutic romcom that fits all too snugly into the #MeToo era.

What makes the new version, like the old one, a throwaway worth seeing is that the family theme lends it a dimension of novelty (at least, for a formula romcom), lifting it out of the realm of one-on-one amorous narcissism. Even more than the Hawn-Russell version, it’s less about two beautiful movie stars giving into the hot sparks between them than it is about a couple of ordinary folks learning to appreciate how much they bounce and ping off each other’s company.

Choosing an actor like Eugenio Derbez to headline a Hollywood romantic fantasy turns out to be an inspired paradox: He’s an international star with a major following, but American audiences are only just getting to know him — and so, watching the character of Leonardo, the filthy-rich yacht-cruising heir to a Mexican industrial fortune, we can’t drop the character into the neat slot we would have if he were played by a familiar icon (i.e., Matthew McConaughey back when they were churning out movies like this). Derbez, who is 56, is supple and understated, with a face that can look debonair or hangdog, or both at once.

Anna Faris’s Kate, who’s working two jobs while she studies for her nurse qualification exam, shows up on Leonardo’s yacht to shampoo his carpet, and he treats her like chattel — a tiff that escalates into a sharply funny war of words, until he tosses her overboard along with her carpet cleaner, for which she now has to reimburse the company $3,000. The less said about the amnesia plot the better (Leonardo tumbles into the ocean at night and washes up on the shore of Elk Cove, Ore.). But when Kate “rescues” her “husband,” taking him home and introducing him to the life of devoted servitude he has apparently forgotten about, Faris plays it with stylish sadistic glee.

Leo, as he’s now called, wakes up in a life that looks like hell. He’s forced to sleep on a cot in the shed with an empty soda bottle to pee in, he’s told that he’s a recovering alcoholic (so no more booze), and he’s put to work on a construction crew, whose members nickname him “Lady Hands.” These scenes, in which he confronts the otherworldly prospect of actual manual labor, are some of the best in the film, because Mel Rodriguez plays the team leader, Bobby, with a perfect amused jadedness, and the other actors, like Josh Segarra, follow suit. Derbez makes Leo’s plight a comedy routine that never stops evolving, moving from what-am-I-doing-here? befuddlement to outraged impotence to misery to grudging acceptance to the discovery that his new life has satisfactions he could never have predicted.

The original “Overboard” had a Garry Marshall clunkiness that worked for it, with Kurt Russell’s ramshackle home looking like a cabin out of Dogpatch. The new version, directed by the sitcom veteran Rob Greenberg, from a script credited to himself, Bob Fisher, and Leslie Dixon (who wrote the original), is made with a slick reality-based gleam, as if this story could actually be happening (even though the movie, at one point, acknowledges that it’s just about as nuts as the telenova serials Kate’s pizza-parlor boss is addicted to). The issue of who’s going to take over Leonardo’s family company is all boilerplate mechanics, though smoothly done.

What makes “Overboard” work, more or less the way it did the first time, is our belief that a spoiled-rotten heir could come to be happier when he starts to treat the woman around him like a companion instead of a utensil, and when he realizes that having a family beats having a yacht. The movie actually forces Leo to choose (an alteration of the original), and Derbez’s acting attains the tender glow that Goldie Hawn’s had. What does it say that a romantic comedy too cheesy to go over all that well in 1987 works just as well today — and seems, if anything, less daffy than before? It says that 30 years of the movies that followed “Overboard” have made romcom cheese into the new normal.

POPULAR ON VARIETY.COM:

Film Review: 'Overboard'

Reviewed at AMC Empire, New York, May 2, 2018. MPAA Rating: PG-13. Running time: 112 MIN.

Production: An MGM and Pantelion release of a 3Pas Studios production. Producers: Eugenio Derbez, Benjamin Odell, Bob Fisher. Executive producer: Brendan Ferguson.

Crew: Director: Rob Greenberg. Screenplay: Bob Fisher, Rob Greenberg, Leslie Dixon. Camera (color, widescreen): Michael Barrett. Editor: Lee Haxal. Music: Lyle Workman.

With: Eugenio Derbez, Anna Faris, Eva Longoria, John Hannah, Emily Maddison, Swoosie Kurtz, Mel Rodriguez, John Sagarra, Alyvia Alyn Lind, Hannah Nordberg.

More Film

  • UGC Distribution Closes on Mariano Cohn’s

    Ventana Sur: UGC Distribution Closes Market Hit ‘4 x 4’ (EXCLUSIVE)

    BUENOS AIRES — UGC Distribution has beaten out all other suitors to clinch what had became by Friday morning the most anticipated deal of this year’s Ventana Sur market: All rights to France on Argentine Mariano Cohn’s “4 x 4,” sold by Latido Films and distributed throughout Argentina by Disney. After mounting speculation about which [...]

  • Aquaman 2018

    Film News Roundup: 'Aquaman' Hits $152 Million at International Box Office

    In today’s film news roundup, “Aquaman” has already grossed more than $150 million outside the U.S., Michael Masini joins “Birds of Prey,” and Freestyle buys the documentary “Shamanic Trekker.” BOX OFFICE More Reviews Tallinn Film Review: 'Winter's Night' TV Review: 'Vanity Fair' Warner Bros.’ tentpole “Aquaman” has taken in $152 million overseas in 36 markets, [...]

  • 'Winter's Night' Review: Enigmatic, Offbeat Korean

    Tallinn Film Review: 'Winter's Night'

    There are thousands of films about love’s beginning, and a great many about love’s end. But far fewer deal with a relationship’s late-middle: the spreading, sluggish delta of coupledom when decades of familiarity, if they have not bred contempt, at least threaten irritation. “Winter’s Night,” Jang Woo-jin’s playfully melancholic third feature, after the acclaimed “A [...]

  • Tomasz Kot UTA

    UTA Signs ‘Cold War’ Star Tomasz Kot (EXCLUSIVE)

    UTA has signed “Cold War” star Tomasz Kot. He has appeared in more than 30 films and 26 plays as well as dozens of television series. More Reviews Tallinn Film Review: 'Winter's Night' TV Review: 'Vanity Fair' Most recently, Kot has received award-season buzz for his starring role as Wiktor in Pawel Pawlikowski’s feature “Cold [...]

  • Kenneth Branagh's 'All Is True' Opening

    Kenneth Branagh's 'All Is True' Opening Palm Springs Film Festival

    The 30th annual Palm Springs International Film Festival will open on Jan. 3 with historical drama “All Is True,” starring Kenneth Branagh, Judi Dench, and Ian McKellen. Branagh, who will be in attendance at the opening night screening, directed from Ben Elton’s script about the little-known period in the final years of William Shakespeare. Branagh [...]

  • Actor and Activist Rodney Kageyama Dies

    Actor and Activist Rodney Kageyama Dies at 77

    Actor, activist and influentials member of the Japanese American community, Rodney Kageyama, died in his sleep Dec. 9. He was 77. The SAG member was known for roles in “Karate Kid IV” with Hillary Swank, Ron Howard’s film “Gung Ho” and the spinoff sitcom, and the TV movie “Hiroshima: Out of the Ashes” with Max [...]

  • Most Popular Films 2018: The Best

    9 Holiday Gift Ideas Inspired by This Year's Most Popular Films

    From superheroes to super nannies, 2018 was a year full of memorable characters — and memorable movies. Whether you’re a big film buff, an avid follower of a popular franchise, or have a couple movie fans in your life, here are nine gifts that capture the fun of some of this year’s biggest films. 1. [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content