Monday, March 18, 2019

Overboard (2018): A Review


It's a gender reversal with an ethnic twist for Overboard, the remake of the 1987 comedy. What the exact motivation for these changes I can guess at: a stab at gender equality and a play for the Hispanic/Spanish-speaking market.

Seems a shame that they went through all that trouble and didn't bother to make Overboard funny.

Nursing student and widow Kate Sullivan (Anna Faris) is struggling to make ends meet with two jobs: pizza delivery and maid services, while raising her three daughters. It's in the latter job where she meets Leonardo Montenegro (Eugenio Derbez), Mexican playboy and scion to the third wealthiest man on Earth. His boorish behavior shocks her, and after she refuses to serve him fruit, he not only refuses to pay her for services rendered but pushes her off his yacht.

Leonardo's sister Magdalena (Cecilia Suarez) is displeased that their dying father (Fernando Lujan) wants to give Leonardo control of the company just because he's the only male. While their other sister, frustrated cellist Sofia (Mariana Treviño) isn't thrilled either, she's willing to go along with it. Magdalena goes to Leonardo's yacht, Birthday Present, to try to get him to come home but he doesn't care.

It isn't long though before he falls off-ship and washes up in Elk Cove, Oregon, with amnesia. With prodding from her BFF Theresa (Eva Longoria), Kate goes to the hospital and convinces all that the mystery man is her husband, Leo Sullivan.

Yes, a swarthy, Mexican-accented man is surnamed 'Sullivan', with a vaguely logical cover story to make this remotely plausible.

Kate plans to use him as de facto slave labor to work off his debt so she can concentrate on her studies. Leo is put to work construction through Theresa's husband Bobby (Mel Rodriguez), where the crew laughs at 'Lady Hands' ineptness. Magdalena convinces everyone Leonardo was swallowed by sharks despite knowing he is alive so Papi can turn control over to her.

Over time, Leonardo soon starts integrating into "his old" life, down to reviving a passion for the Seattle Seahawks, even if the game has to be explained to him. However, the jig is up when Leonardo's yacht steward Colin (John Hannah) is sent a picture of Leonardo on the beach. With the deceptions uncovered and Leonardo's memory returned, both Leo and Kate must make fateful decisions.

Image result for overboard 2018I think one of Overboard's greatest flaws is how toothless it all is. Everyone is surprisingly too nice for the goings-on despite how they should be either nasty (Leonardo) or duplicitous (Kate). The confrontation between Leonardo and Kate on the boat has no actual sense of hostility between either of them. Even as Leonardo boozes and carouses through the seven seas, he seems surprisingly restrained, almost sweet.

It's as if Overboard despite the gender-swap didn't want Leonardo to be emblematic of toxic masculinity and give him a sharper edge. Curiously, this makes it harder to both sympathize with Kate's scheme or see Leonardo as a reformed man given that his confinement seemed to just smooth him out more than transform him.

For a comedy, there was only one time when I laughed, and that was in an interaction between Leo and Bobby. There is humor in male bonding that touches on emotions between men, though I'm surprised that director and co-writer Rob Greenberg (with Bob Fisher and original Overboard scribe Leslie Dixon) didn't give the Seahawk fanatic Bobby and Leonardo a game to watch together.

It's almost sad that the funnier or at least amusing parts came from when Kate and Leonardo were separated versus when they were together. The scenes where Leonardo struggles to do construction in particular are more amusing than Kate's somewhat hysterical interactions with her daughters or her theater-obsessed mother Grace (Swoosie Kurtz) (hysterical in the crazy versus funny sense). Bobby's nephew, aspiring salsa singer Jason (Josh Segarra) has a particularly funny moment when he fools the wealthy couple they are building a pool for that he does not speak any English despite being the only man on Bobby's crew to speak Spanish and English flawlessly.

Image result for overboard 2018
Overboard also has very wild inconsistencies and leaps of logic that metaphorically sink the film. Bobby's construction crew are all Hispanic and save for Jason immigrants. As such, they in theory should know who Leonardo is even if they unlike Bobby are not part of the conspiracy. While Overboard attempts to find logic in his disappearance with the 'eaten by sharks' bit, one would imagine the disappearance of this billionaire playboy would make some kind of news, complete with pictures, but Elk Cove apparently does not have internet, satellite/cable television or anything above a local newsletter.

A running subplot is Kate's fears of leaving her daughters alone with the strange man she herself brought into her home, requiring her oldest daughter Emily (Hannah Nordberg) to babysit even when Leo is at home. Somehow, this makes no sense on any level: bringing a man she does not know into a home filled with underage girls and thinking that their 'father' was going to do something tawdry with them.

Overboard also has some pretty lousy performances from the leads. Derbez shows that he can be unfunny in two languages. I'd like to say that part of it may be due to the material, but I've seen his Mexican work and I didn't think he was funny there either. Faris' comedic charm also escapes me. She seems a human Kewpie doll, and her performance consisted of looking shocked at all times. Both of them acted as if all of this was the nonsense it was presented as and couldn't be bothered to even try make it real.

As a side note, we have a very bizarre situation with the premise. Leo, hoodwinked into thinking he was celebrating their anniversary, comments about it being fifteen years of marriage. Curiously, that is the age gap between Derbez and Faris (56 and 41 respectively). I would have thought that 32-year-old Segarra would have been more plausible as the billionaire playboy than the nearly 60-year-old Derbez. There's also the fact that Segarra is frankly better-looking than Derbez.

Almost everyone else was playing things broadly. Kurtz and Hannah were wasted, their characters pointless to anything here. Longoria had no purpose here other than plot device. Rodriguez and Segarra as the die-hard Seahawks fan and aspiring singer respectively were the best of the lot for they seemed to play actual people. It almost makes one wish that Overboard had dropped Faris and her storyline altogether to focus on how this dilettante eventually came to embrace the joys of working-class life and the NFL.

Again, would have been nice to have seen Leo and Bobby go to CenturyLink Field without their wives.

Overboard, sans original, would not be funny, let alone romantic. The many subtitled scenes make me think it was created to play in Latin American markets and a vehicle for Derbez more than for Faris. There's no point, there's no logic, there's no chemistry, there's no reason for anything with Overboard.


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