There was a moment whilst watching the 2018 incarnation of Overboard where my friend turned to me and asked “Is that Jimeoin?” when hearing John Hannah’s Scottish accent churn out one of the many unfunny lines of dialogue the film has the pleasure(?) of serving. When an incredibly misguided observation evokes the largest laugh, you know things aren’t boding well for a film that’s supposed to be a comedy.
Whilst the original 1987 film is hardly a classic in the traditional sense, the undeniable charm of Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell elevated it to a level beyond its simplistic screwball mentality, and it’s not difficult to see why it has earned something of a cult following. The basis of the plot line (rich bitch is slapped with a case of amnesia, struggling blue collar worker takes advantage, hijinks and eventual romance ensues) is something that could easily be tweaked for a modern audience, and an enthusiastic comedic performer like Anna Faris feels almost too perfectly made to tackle a Goldie Hawn feature, so how is it that Rob Greenberg’s remake is so disastrous?
The gender reversal of Hawn’s original spoilt heiress Joanna Stayton now being the selfish Mexican playboy Leonardo Montenegro (Eugenio Derbez) is fitting for 2018, and Faris taking on the struggling working class role embodied by Russell’s Dean Proffitt (here she’s Kate, working two jobs whilst raising three young girls) is suited to the actress’s penchant for playing less-than-glamourous characters, so from a casting point-of-view Overboard is suitably acceptable; Derbez is a polarising performer though, and the film’s insistence on highlighting his apparent sexual magnetism comes off more forced than organic.
The storyline is altered to the most minuscule detail too, so if it managed to earn a few laughs then, surely the industry can deliver a chuckle-worthy line some 30 years on now? That’s where Overboard hits its snag. Here’s a comedy that simply isn’t funny – revolving around characters that we don’t really care about, no less.
Whilst remakes are always going to have a certain level of predictability built-in, and the romantic comedy genre as a whole seldom strays from its usual beats, Overboard fails to present material that surprises at any given moment. We know Leo will irk Kate, we know she’ll exact revenge by pretending to be his wife when his amnesia strikes, we know he’ll hate his new working class life, we know they’ll come around to each other, we know he’ll get his memory back, we know they’ll end up together following a nausea-inducing proclamation of love sequence. There’s no harm in the predictable, but at least chuck us a joke or two that is actually funny instead of playing the cards so close to the chest that there’s no room for spontaneity.
I was prepared for the worst upon viewing Overboard as the trailers failed to make any kind of impact and, sadly, it was another case of the previews showcasing the “best” parts. For 112 minutes (a running time far too long for a film of the ilk) I was subjected to dated material, an unpleasant Derbez, and a she-deserves-so-much-better-than-this Faris whose usual effervescence feels far more dimmed here, coming off as incapable to be the lifejacket this drowning production so desperately needs. Save the original and let Overboard ’18 sink to the depths where it belongs.
Kate is a single, working-class mother of three who’s hired to clean a luxury yacht that belongs to Leonardo — a selfish, spoiled and wealthy Mexican playboy. After unjustly firing Kate, Leonardo falls off the boat and wakes up with no memory of who he is. To get payback, Kate shows up at the hospital and convinces the confused amnesiac that they’re married. As Leonardo tries to get used to manual labor and his new family, Kate starts to wonder how long she can keep fooling her fake husband.
Overboard, screening exclusively through select Event Cinemas, is in theatres now