Based on the original 1987 movie of the same name starring Kurt Russell and Goldie Hawn, Overboard stars Anna Faris (The House Bunny, Scary Movie, Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs, TV’s Mom) as Kate, a hard-working mom of three daughters who finds herself in dire straits after mistreatment from a conceded, rich industry heir named Leonardo, played by Eugenio Derbez (Instructions Not Included, Miracles From Heaven, How to Be a Latin Lover).
A gender role reversal of the two main characters from the original movie provides the main anchor in this formulaic story as a talented cast rises to the occasion when given a chance to shine. The laughs are pretty good too as filmmakers serve up elements involving economic class differences, family functions, marriage roles, and self-improvement aspirations.
Set in Elk Cove, Oregon, Faris and the three young actresses playing her daughters combine with Derbez, who also co-produces this film, and an impressive Latino cast that fills a funny, emotional story that closely follows the 1987 original. Clever references (e.g. a local doctor’s mention of a previous amnesia case) honor the 1987 original as filmmakers omit any notable cameo appearances.
This story also has considerable Spanish language dialogue with subtitles within a story that provides laughs (“What animal do people say you look like?” “You’re my nobody…boop” etc.) and truth (“We all feel this way,” “Thanks for sticking with me,” etc.).
Faris shines as Kate. “Why am I even trying to be a nurse? I’m going to be delivering pizzas and cleaning carpets for the rest of my life,” she says as her goals seem out of reach.
Enter Leonardo, played by Derbez who displays his considerable talents in comedy, drama, dialogue delivery, and even stunts, which provide even more comedy. He even gets lots of mileage from a recurring, yet important sight gag that doubles as a plug for one of his upcoming film projects. An exterior street scene could have been even funnier if it wasn’t a wide shot due to content restrictions. The audience must fill in the gap here (no pun intended).
Kate needs more character support beyond a selfish mom ironically named Grace, played by Broadway mainstay Swoosie Kurtz (Liar Liar), inserted to serve the story with very thin development (it’s a shallow mother-daughter relationship both ways). A local boat mechanic, played by Toby Hargrave (Netflix’s Altered Carbon), makes a better impression (after a confusing beginning) in his limited role as he makes a key recognition.
Kate’s charming daughters – youngest Molly (Payton Lepinski), football-loving Olivia (Alyvia Alyn Lind) and oldest, Emily (Hannah Nordberg), are instrumental in this movie’s more emotional elements. Faris does her best with a priceless reaction to one of her daughter’s important life events, but this female family needed more development before “Leo” enters the picture to make that reaction more effective. A quick dialogue line explains the status of the dad who never appears.
The mango-loving Leonardo is content to live vicariously on the wealth of his family’s business as his sisters, Magda (short for Magdalena), played by Cecilia Suárez, and Lucia, played by Cynthia Mendez, tend to his ailing father, played by Fernando Luján.
Leonardo keeps his servants at arm’s length. “I don’t need to know how the sausage is made,” he says to Colin, played by John Hannah (Four Weddings and a Funeral) who is a welcome addition to this movie crew. Swedish actor Per Graffman hopefully has a star making role as Captain of Leonardo yacht “Birthday Present.”
“You’re very attractive for a carpet cleaning lady. Although you maybe could do something with your hair. Yeah. No, that’s not it. It’s your face. Yeah.” Leonardo says to Kate in their first meeting.
After the movie’s basic premise happens to Leonardo with amnesia providing adequate reasoning. “I don’t know what day it is. I don’t even know my own name!” says Leonardo, now known as Leo. Any possible “deal breaker” is easily explained away as Kate can make up Leo’s history as the story progresses while the audience enjoy the revelations and other barbs that pepper this arrangement with the comedic approach and tone throughout.
Audiences can enjoy themselves since they’re far removed from the situation while filmmakers keep them emotionally invested so they care about and can relate to the justifications of the questionable actions of the likeable Kate and her supporting friend Theresa. Kate’s unique display of justice involves logic, socio-economic class differences and possible legal implications.
Faris and her co-star Eva Longoria make believable chemistry as best friends. Longoria plays Theresa whose husband, Bobby, played by Mel Rodriquez, who gives Leo a construction job where he meets Burro (Omar Chaparro), Burrito (Adrian Uribe), Vito (Jesús Ochoa) and an aspiring singer named Jason (Josh Segarra) who gets to have fun with one of the most well-known Latino economic class/language barrier scenarios. “I love doing that,” he says afterwards.
As Theresa, Longoria gives some glimpses that she can manipulate/mastermind an opportunistic situation using her well-placed comments to her husband about his current weight and his recent boat purchase. “Maybe next time I ask you to commit a crime you won’t fight me on it,” she tells Kate.
Filmmakers also reference alcoholism without showing someone suffering through it to explain some logistics (good and bad). This approach includes sequence at an Alcoholic Anonymous (AA) meeting that bolsters the self-improvement elements. It’s an emotional boost as well as a comedic one. Comic zingers like having an “attitude of gratitude” and even tempting another with offers to break sobriety would normally have very serious tones, but not in this unique scenario. “I’m gonna fix this,” Leo solemnly vows as he realizes the full breadth of this new fictitious life.
Rob Greenberg, an experienced television writer and producer, co-wrote this screenplay with Bob Fisher with screenwriter Leslie Dixon getting story credit since she wrote the original 1987 screenplay. Greenberg gets his first feature film debut here as he and his crew set up the laughs and properly showcase the characters well.
Greenburg also frames the characters well though he makes a few distracting mistakes. For example, the audience can see through a window that a boat is moving then is suddenly and illogically stopped then moving again during a nighttime sequence. Also, filmmakers initially confuse audiences with an unclear orientation shot at the beginning of an exterior camping site sequence, which bewilders until the sequence is almost over as the camera shot changes.
Another example involves some awkward framing and action during an exterior sequence where a friend “covers” for a main character to explain the questionable appearance of a suspicious item found in a car. This sequence was awkwardly shoe horned in only for the sake of the original and filmmakers could have easily cut the scene or been creative with the reasoning behind the item’s discovery.
Some presented elements are inconsequential, but others (like a leaky roof patch) play into the story quite nicely. Greenberg also gets some good first mates as he steers the film. Notable crew members include music composer Lyle Workman (Superbad) has considerable experience in the comedy genre and enhances this enjoyable experience. “Leave The Light On,” performed by Leslie Mills, is one of the featured songs that also supplies added appeal.
This 112-minute romantic-comedy comes recommended with some reservations (**1/2 out of four stars) and is rated PG-13 for suggestive material (references and innuendo, but nothing graphic), partial nudity and some language. Overboard is a funny, emotional touchstone that challenges audiences to live better lives without judgment, discrimination or past hurts that hold us back and be willing to venture outside our comfort box.
Copyright © Michael Siebenaler