May 4, 2018 by  
Filed under Kiko, Reviews

Starring: Eugenio Derbez, Anna Faris, Eva Longoria
Directed by: Rob Greenberg (debut)
Written by: Rob Greenberg (“Meet Dave”) and Bob Fisher (“Wedding Crashers”)

Cinematic purists beware! They’re coming for your ’80s movies — and they’re coming hard and fast and with little justification.

It seems nothing is sacred in Hollywood these days. That’s especially true for those relatable and entertaining, albeit often cheesy, ’80s flicks. They have a target on their back, and studios are banking on the idea that nostalgia is far too powerful for moviegoers in their thirties and forties to ignore.

Now that remakes of movies like “The Karate Kid,” “Hairspray,” “Robocop,” “Ghostbusters” and many others — which achieved varying levels of critical and box-office success — are behind us, next on the list for an uninspired reimagining is “Overboard,” the 1987 comedy starring Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell about a rich heiress with amnesia who is tricked into believing she is the wife of a poor carpenter with four boys.

In this new reiteration, gender roles are reversed, with Russell’s character going to comedian Anna Faris (“The House Bunny”) and Hawn’s going to Mexican box-office champion and funny man Eugenio Derbez (“Instructions Not Included”). But as different as it would like to declare itself to be because of the gender switch, there isn’t much to the “Overboard” remake that warrants a second shot on the big screen.

The setup is roughly the same as the original. Kate (Faris) is a single mom raising three daughters and working a few dead-end jobs while studying to be a nurse. She meets millionaire playboy Leonardo (Derbez) when she is hired to clean his yacht. When Leonardo demands that Kate go find him a mango, she refuses, and he stiffs her out of her pay and pushes her off his ship. Later, when Leonardo falls off the boat himself and is found washed up on the beach with amnesia, Kate decides to get her revenge by claiming to be his wife and making him work off his debt as a faux husband and father.

It’s virtually impossible to watch the updated “Overboard” and not compare it to the first since so much of it follows the same exact plot points and even borrows chunks of the original dialogue. Aside from the role reversal and the casting of Derbez, the latter of which gives focus on a somewhat more Latino-centric story, there is nothing remotely fresh or updated about the narrative. In fact, the screenplay hits a major snag right from the start when its screenwriters expect audiences to believe that in 2018, a person of Leonardo’s stature could go missing for more than a day without someone jumping on social media and piecing it together in a few seconds.

The most glaring problem with “Overboard,” however, is the underwritten relationship between Leonardo and his fake family. In the original, Hawn bonds with her boys in such a sweet and authentic way that when the heartbreaking reveal comes, there is a sense of real loss and sadness. When Derbez’s Leonardo gets his memory back, it doesn’t feel like he’s leaving behind anyone who made an impact on his life in any meaningful way. And let’s face it: If the original film was missing that deep, emotional connection, there would’ve been no reason to join Dr. Death for a final rescue mission.

Eugenio Derbez – How to Be a Latin Lover

June 1, 2017 by  
Filed under Chaléwood, Interviews

Mexican actor Eugenio Derbez (“Instructions Not Included”) isn’t a Latin lover, but he plays one on the big screen.

In his new comedy “How to Be a Latin Lover,” Derbez, 55, stars as Maximo, a lifelong playboy who is dumped by his much-older, wealthy wife and has no choice but to move in with his estranged sister Sara (Salma Hayek) and her young son Hugo (Raphael Alejandro). As he tries to find another rich nonagenarian to seduce into marriage, Maximo learns what it means to be part of a family and why money doesn’t always deliver happiness.

During an interview with me last week, Derbez, whose 2013 comedy “Instructions Not Included” became the highest-grossing Spanish-language film released in the U.S., talked about caricaturizing stereotypes, the types of roles he’s turned down recently and how stereotypes are seen differently in Mexico than they are in the U.S.

What attracted you to a character like Maximo? Are there any similarities between you two?

There aren’t many similarities between Máximo and I, thank God. I always wanted to do “Latin Lover.” I was always flirting with girls at school, but I’m kind of shy. When I was playing Máximo, I love the confidence he has. I was like, “I should’ve known this confidence when I was young!” I was very shy and I’m still shy. I hate that. On the other hand, that’s good because then I would’ve been married many times by now.

What would you say to critics who say that “How to Be a Latin Lover” perpetuates stereotypes of Latino men?

I was really curious about this cliché that everyone has in the U.S. Every time I wore a suit or a tuxedo, every single Anglo was like, “Oh, you look like a Latin lover!” I thought it was funny and that we should do something with that. I think the best way to break down a stereotype is to poke fun of it. I decided to make this movie to break down the stereotype of the Latin lover by making fun of the character. I think it’s very original.

As a comedy actor, do you find the comedy genre helps to do that with stereotypes? I mean, could you?

I use comedy for everything. For me, comedy is like therapy. Every time I want to heal something or criticize something or get rid of an idea, I use comedy. In this case, it was no exception. I thought it was the best way to tell people that this is just a stereotype. Latinos are not afraid of laughing, shouting, yelling, dancing, touching, and hugging. We all kiss each other. I notice that when I’m here in the U.S. and I meet someone and I go to kiss their cheek or get a hug, I can tell when people feel uncomfortable. They get stiff and it’s funny. But I like the way we are.

Can you give me an example of a role in a film you’ve turned down?

Since I came to the U.S. after “Instructions Not Included,” a lot of doors opened. I moved to the U.S. and they were offering me a lot of the same kind of roles—the criminal, the drug lord, the narco, the murderer. I decided not to go that way, at least for now. I’m not saying I’m never going to play [a role like that] in my life. One of the things people say they loved about “Instructions” was that they were watching a Latino on the big screen who was a good father and good human being and who was very successful. They were like, “Finally!” So, I decided not to go for those other roles for the last two and a half years. I declined a lot of offers in really great projects from really great directors because I wanted to try doing something different.

How are stereotypes viewed in TV and film in Mexico? In the U.S., it seems like audiences have become a lot more conscious of it nowadays.

It’s different because [Mexicans] are not that sensitive. I think in the U.S., at least before Mr. Trump, it was too much. I remember about two years ago, I went to a restaurant with some friends. All of us were Mexicans. We asked for some hot sauce. The waitress said, “It is kind of spicy.” And we said, “Ah, it doesn’t matter! We’re Mexicans!” And she was shocked. She was like, “You’re not offended by that word?!” We were like, “What?! We’re Mexicans! That’s what we are!” It’s like the people that say we’re not allowed to say “Latino” anymore. We have to say “Hispanic.” Apparently, that’s the correct word to describe people who speak Spanish in the U.S. I’m like, “Come on guys. We’re going too far.” In Mexico, we don’t care. We don’t care about being politically correct. We’re more open. In the U.S., everyone is so conscious about not offending anyone.

What kind of future do you see for Maximo? Does he go find true love or does he stay a playboy forever?

He’s not that romantic. When we were writing the character, we tried to be faithful to the character. I know guys like Máximo. They’re interested in having a great life and a good time. They don’t care about romance and love. They just care about having a good life. That’s Máximo. He would never go for love. He learns a lesson about the importance of family and that it’s more important than money. But very deep in his soul, the only thing that matters to him is to have a good time. I don’t think he’ll ever find his true love.

Eugenio Derbez – Instructions Not Included

August 30, 2013 by  
Filed under Chaléwood, Interviews

Mexican film and TV star Eugenio Derbez says he’s ready to grow up in the entertainment industry. In “Instructions Not Included,” his first feature film as a director, Derbez stars as Valentin, a womanizer who is caught by surprise when a former lover introduces him to his infant daughter. Best known for starring in Spanish-language TV comedies like “XHDRbZ” and “La familia P. Luche,” Derbez is ready to move on and start producing and directing more projects. Besides “Instructions,” his most ambitious goal is to create a Spanish-language version of “Saturday Night Live” in Mexico.

During our interview, Derbez, 50, talked about how his new film parallels his own life and explains how he wants to start a comedy revolution in Mexico.

“Instructions Not Included” hits selected theaters Aug. 30.

You had experience directing some Spanish-language TV shows in the past. What made you to want to direct your first feature film?

I was trying to grow up as a professional. I had been doing my own TV shows for years. I wanted to show myself doing different work. That was a dream I’ve had since I was a kid – to make a film full of heart. I fell in love when I saw the film “Life is Beautiful.” That’s why I wrote this film. It’s based a little bit on my life. I wanted to jump from being an actor to a director and producer. It’s something I’ve wanted to do for a long time.

Did fatherhood come natural to you?

I was 22 years old when I had my first child. I didn’t want to be a father. Fatherhood was a surprise. I had to face the responsibility of being a dad when I was really young. But then I fell in love with fatherhood. Now, my daughter is the love of my life. Facing fatherhood was the best decision I could make. I love the experience of being a dad.

How old are your kids?

My daughter is 26. I have two sons. One is 22 and one is 20.

They’re all grown up. Do they still need their dad?

Yes, I think every kid will always need their mom and dad. You need their advice and their love. It doesn’t matter if you’re old. You’ll always need your parents.

You celebrated your first wedding anniversary last month. What took so long?

(Laughs) Well, I was really afraid of commitment. I was against marriage. I didn’t want to ever get married. But when I started shooting the film, I decided to get married to face the fear of commitment. Now, I’m a married man and I love it. It’s the best thing that has ever happen to me.

Your character in “Instructions Not Included” is a womanizer. Does that also describe who you were before you were married?

Absolutely. (Laughs) But now I am happily married.

How is the casting for “Saturday Night Live Mexico” going and what are you looking for in terms of comedians?

Well, we bought the franchise and we’re looking for any Spanish-speaking comedians who write, act and direct. We want to follow the same rules as “SNL” in the U.S. We’re looking to do a new kind of comedy in Mexico. We want to change comedy because in Mexico we have an old-fashioned way of making comedy. We’re looking for funny people who have a lot of charisma.

You’ve worked in the past with former “SNL” actors like Adam Sandler and Rob Schneider. How are Spanish-speaking comedians of the same vein different from them?

There is a lot of difference between comedy in Mexico and Latin America and American humor. Every country has its own style. I think you have to adapt the humor of “SNL” in the U.S. to Mexico. I think that’s the main challenge. We don’t want to lose the comedy of “SNL.” But we have to make it more Mexican, more Hispanic, so people can understand the “SNL” humor.

Do you think a subtle American comedy series like “Louie” or “Arrested Development” could be adapted successfully for a Mexican audience?

I think it could work. We just need to change the way Mexico sees comedy. I think the secret of the American comedy is that you use situations. For example, in “SNL” America uses Barack Obama for a lot of jokes. But everyone in the world knows Barack Obama. Not everyone knows Enrique Peña Nieto, Mexico’s president. There is also an issue with that. We can’t play the same jokes with our politicians because no one is going to know them. If we want to sell “SNL” in Spanish to other countries, we can’t use our politicians. We have to use a more universal humor.

Would there be certain lines you couldn’t cross with the humor on a Spanish-language version of “SNL?”

Well, right now, we’re not really open to talk about politics or against the government. That’s one of my goals. If we end up doing “SNL Mexico,” we have to open the minds of the politicians. We have to let them know we need to [make fun] of Mexico’s politics. If not, it’s not going to be worth it. We need to talk about politics and get rid of this old way of doing comedy.

So, right now, do politicians and government officials just take jokes too personal?

Exactly. They take it too personal and they’re not used to it. You couldn’t say anything bad about the president because it was considered a lack of respect. You could get in trouble. Now, things are opening up a little bit. I want to talk to the president or his committee about doing this. We want to do comedy about politics in a respectful way.

Eugenio Derbez – No eres tú, soy yo

April 8, 2011 by  
Filed under Chaléwood, Interviews

Actor and comedian Eugenio Derbez isn’t going to lie to you. After 48 years on this planet, he still doesn’t know much about the way women operate.

“It’s getting worse,” said Derbez during a phone interview with me to discuss his most recent comedy “No eres tú soy yo.” “As much as men try to learn anything about women it doesn’t ever work. It’s hard to understand each other.”

In “No eres tú, soy yo” (“It’s Not You It’s Me”), which was the highest grossing Mexican film in 2010, Derbez’s character Javier falls into a deep depression when his relationship ends with the woman he loves (Alejandra Barros).

During our interview, Derbez, who is originally from Mexico City and best know for his comedy roles on Spanish TV (“La familia P. Luche”), talked about one of his earliest heartbreaks as a teenager and what it was like for him to have to find the emotions to cry on cue.

Is the excuse “It’s not you it’s me” valid for someone to use when breaking up with a significant other?

Not at all. (Laughs) Sometimes people use these kinds of lines when they want to break up – “It’s not you it’s me,” or “You’re too good for me” or “I love you, but only as a friend.” They’re cowardly phrases to break up with someone. I’ve been through these types of situations many times. I think everyone has been dumped or has dumped somebody else before.

Has there been a specific breakup you can say has hurt more than all the rest?

Yeah, when I was young my first girlfriend was so mean. She was always cheating on me. She would be with me for a week and then the next week she would be with another guy. She was always giving me excuses. She would break up with me every week.

Even though breakups can be depressing, a film like “No eres tú, soy yo” finds the comedy in these situation, right?

Yeah, you will laugh a lot. As much as my character is crying and suffering, people can still laugh. It’s crazy how it works.

Since you are a comedian, were those emotional scenes difficult for you?

I had to go back and take acting lessons to remember which emotional buttons I had to push. It was hard for me to portray a character who has to be depressed 80 percent of the time on screen. It was hard to cry for two months straight.

In the Latino culture, guys can be hesitant to show those kinds of emotions. Is that your personality in real life?

I’m very sensitive. I go to the movies and I always cry. In the middle of the movie I’ll be like, “[makes crying noises].” The male Latin audience is not used to showing their feelings. We’ve been told not to cry ever. Men don’t cry. It’s very hard for Latin men to cry in front of people, but not in my case.

So, now I have to ask you what is the last movie you saw that made you cry?

Oh, my God. It was mine, “No eres tú, soy yo.” Also, another of my movies, “Under the Same Moon,” made me cry at every single screening – eight times. Eight!

This year, you’re going to be starring in the Adam Sandler movie “Jack and Jill.” What was the experience like working with a comedian like him?

It was awesome working with him. He is such a great guy. I was a big fan of Adam and now that I know him as a human being, I’m more than a fan. He was always very kind to me. It was a great experience working with him and with Katie Holmes.