1.5 stars (out of 4)
The tepid 2018 remake of Overboard is Reason No. 1 why some 1980s relics should remain locked in the vault along with Aqua-Net hairspray and Lee Press On Nails. Everything that seemed dumb-funny back in the era of big hair and bigger shoulder pads is now shockingly inept and clumsy. And though this version features a gender-reversal twist on the 1987 comedy starring Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell, that just means audiences are stuck with a purported strong female going to extreme lengths to pull off an ultra-lame hoax.
Anna Faris, who deserves faaaarrrrrr better, plays Kate, a single mom of three struggling to make ends meet so she can go to nursing school. She works as both a pizza delivery woman and professional carpet cleaner. She’s perpetually sunny and always looks dewy, which means she hasn’t seen Tully— a movie opening on the same weekend that really tells it like it is about the harried travails of motherhood. During one carpet cleaning gig on a massive yacht, she has it out with the rich playboy owner. Leonardo (Eugenio Derbez) is the spoiled son of the third wealthiest man in the world or something insane like that. He’s brash, condescending and tells Kate that she resembles a farm animal. He refuses to pay her, then throws her off.
Kate is desperate for payback. And after Leo drunkenly falls off the boat later that night and washes up to California dry land, she gets it. Leo has retro-grade amnesia and can’t remember who he is. This story of the forgetful handsome stranger is all over the local news. Her friend (Eva Longoria) cooks up the idea that Kate should show up to the hospital, convince him that they’re married, take him home and then give him a taste of blue-collar reality. A similar ploy worked in 1987 when Hawn’s rich snob fell overboard and ended up on Russell’s boat. But in this age of Google and social media, amazingly, not one person recognizes Leonardo as the scion of a billionaire. I swear, it’s the little plot holes in life that make me crazy.
Kate sells it and immediately puts him to work. He cooks and cleans. He spills the pasta and trips over the noodles. He does manual labor. Kate also tells him that he’s sterile and sober. Her three golden-haired daughters refer to him as “Dad” without skipping a beat. They’re not weirded out by any of mom’s shenanigans. In fact, they all get along swimmingly, as one girl asks her new would-be father, “Dad, what’s a pervert?” Alas, Kate knows she can’t keep up this scheme forever, even after she eventually sleeps with him and falls in love for reals. Or maybe she can? After all, as Longoria points out, once Leonardo realizes that he’s a billionaire and not a ditch digger, he’s going to be thrilled!
I should note that Overboard 2.0 is heavily influenced by Mexican Telenovas. The filmmakers tip off their strategy early on, showing episodes of one popular series on TV. The characters speak many of their punchlines in Spanish, and Derbez is all one-note bravura. But a semi-clever spin on an outrageous comedy doesn’t excuse its stilted execution. The laughs are telegraphed from across the ocean. And judging from their lukewarm chemistry, I don’t think Faris and Derbez are destined for a 31-year relationship a la Hawn and Russell.
Nobody will ever confuse the original Overboard with high-brow art. It’s the kind of goes-down-easy flick you’ll catch on a Sunday morning on basic cable and watch for a few minutes because you’re too hung over to binge A Handmaid’s Tale. You’ll giggle here and there and wistfully think about how they don’t make movies like that anymore. This is the reason why. Best to let this clunker sink.
Overboard opens in theaters on Friday, May 4