‘Overboard’ is an Unsavable Sinking Ship of Comedy

overboardI know “Observe and Report” and “The House Bunny” have their cult classic defenders, but I’m running down Anna Faris’ IMDb page right now and I don’t think she has ever starred in a single genuinely good film.

“Overboard” is a remake of the 1987 film of the same name that starred Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell, and follows a single working class mother (Anna Faris) who tricks a millionaire playboy with amnesia (Eugenio Derbez) into thinking that they are a married couple. Eva Longoria, John Hannah and Swoosie Kurtz also star as Rob Greenberg directs.

It probably can’t be stated just how big of a deal Mexican actor Eugenio Derbez is in the Hispanic film community. His 2013 passion project “Instructions Not Included” made $100 million on a $5 million budget and last year’s “How to Be a Latin Lover” raked in over $60 million (despite being a terrible film that was my worst of 2017). So despite the trailers for this remake making it look like your typical bland Hollywood romcom, the film is half in Spanish and clearly is playing toward Derbez’s fanbase. Not that there is anything inherently wrong with that; no, there are far bigger sins committed by this film for me to worry about than deceptive advertisements.

This film plays out like it is using a first draft of a script. Based off a story by Leslie Dixon (who wrote many of your guilty pleasure films of the past 30 years, including the original “Overboard” and the “Freaky Friday” remake), the film has dialogue that sounds as if it was written by a robot who never heard humans interact or tell a joke. Lines get delivered with staleness or in the completely wrong tone and there was more than one occasion where sitting in my seat I thought of a better way a punchline could have been constructed if given just an extra minute of thought. No one goes into a film like this for originality but some effort would have been nice.

Like I said, a lot of it is just lazy in its execution. The newspaper posts a photo of Derbez saying he is an unidentified man with amnesia and no one in his inner circle sees it? Derbez destroys Anna Faris’ carpet cleaning tools yet she’s the one the company expects to pay $3,000 to replace it (a plot point never brought up again)? It’s just simple things like these not checking out that take you out of the film more than the lack of laughs already did.

The chemistry between Faris and Derbez is about as strong as the bond between a dandelion and weed killer, so is to say they have none. Faris is given a surprising little amount to actually do and the film instead chooses to focus on Derbez and his riches-to-rags story. The performances are fine enough, although Derbez is at his best when speaking his native Spanish and not his high-pitched English accent. There is a point where Faris’ daughter says to her, “you’re so clearly in love with him” to which I scoffed out loud because there wasn’t a hint of romantic tension in the air the entire film.

The film is shot and lit well enough, although most scenes are filmed using shot-reverse-shot so there isn’t much creativity going on. Also there are some questionable editing choices, like the opening moment of the film having Derbez jet ski to an upbeat pop song for about eight seconds before abruptly cutting off to show Faris in her car. On a few other occasions, much like with the script, the editing ruined a possible good punchline by cutting away from a character too quick or lingering too long.

This part really isn’t a knock on the film directly but I really feel it should be noted: this film takes place in Oregon where apparently everyone loves the Seattle Seahawks. Like seriously, they all wear expensive NFL jerseys to their dirty construction jobs, can only wear Seahawks tees around the house and even fly the flag in the background of their wedding. Not sure if this was product placement of some kind or since this was filmed in Canada the filmmakers thought it would trick us into thinking there is no way this is anywhere but America, but. It was kinda weird.

“Overboard” is harmless and well-intentioned but that doesn’t excuse its flaws and boring pace. Just like “How to Be  a Latin Lover,” the film suffers from serious tonal and maturity shifts (characters go from making butt jokes one second to talking about condoms and being too tired for sex the next) and the few jokes that do land almost felt like accidental improvs that were kept in the final cut. It isn’t possible to recommend on any level and if you’re ever on a cruise and this comes on your TV, let me just tell you the quickest (and most appealing) exit is over the side.

Critic’s Grade: D


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