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May 13, 2018

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Overboard has a sinking feeling

GARRY Marshall’s 1987 comedy “Overboard” might not have had the best reviews when it came out, but it was a viewing staple in my childhood home. Whether it was because of cable repeats, my parents’ taste, the irresistible charms of Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell, it’s one that we held in high regard and would often quote.

It was a daunting prospect when a remake was announced, but I was optimistic. Anna Faris is a gifted comedian, and the gender-flipping seemed as viable an excuse as any to dust off the story of an amnesia-stricken billionaire who gets a karmic taste of working-class life and learns some stuff along the way. Plus, they’d decided to diversify, casting Eugenio Derbez, a star in Latin America, as the wealthy jerk.

Sadly, the 2018 “Overboard” pales in comparison. Not only do its two stars have zero chemistry with each other, but the story goes out of its way to over-explain and over-justify the preposterous premise. The result is a sterilized sitcom full of forgettable characters.

Directed and co-written by Bob Fisher and Rob Greenberg, this “Overboard” has Kate (Anna Faris) as an over-worked mother of three, juggling multiple jobs cleaning carpets and delivering pizzas while trying to study to become a nurse.

She’s harried, I guess, because the movie tells us she is. But she and her three blonde daughters are all fairly put-together and well-groomed.

Their house is a little messy but overall they seem to be doing OK, when compared with their 1987 counterparts.

Leonardo (Eugenio Derbez) is a spoiled man-boy — an unmarried Playboy who hangs around his yacht with models and zero cares. He’s demanding of his staff, but not remotely as cold and haughty as Hawn was.

Even his spat with Kate — the instigating incident that justifies her essentially taking him hostage — is questionably tame. It has something to do with him asking her to get him some mango, but like most things in this movie, is at best unmemorable.

The remake even takes Kate’s agency away from her in hatching the plot to take advantage of the amnesiac jerk who threw her off his yacht without payment and gives that to her friend, Theresa (Eva Longoria).

Kate just sort of unwittingly goes along with it, not really even to get revenge, but just as a stop-gap to get someone else who can bring in a paycheck and ease the workload while she studies for her exam.

The 1987 “Overboard” is no great pillar of cinema, but even it treated Hawn’s character with a shred of dignity in her confused state. This just uses Derbez as a slapstick prop. It’s a fine choice, but it’s confusing then when the movie asks us to suddenly care about Leonardo and Kate. He’s hardly a character at all.

Also, the initial premise, so self-consciously silly in 1987, seems even more implausible in the Internet age. The national news would pick up on the disappearance one of the wealthiest men in the world.

There are moments that elicit the occasional chuckle, but overall, it just seems like a waste of everyone’s time.


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