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.