Tuesday, 25 June 2019

Overboard (2018)

I tend to like Anna Faris. She's always amused me and I get the feeling that she never takes her success for granted. In fact, like many other actors, she seems to spend most of her time worried about being found out as an impostor. I remember hearing her say some years ago that Overboard (1987) was her favourite movie of all time, which made the news that it was being remade just slightly more bearable when I knew she was bagging one of the main roles. Unfortunately, nothing else here really works, and it certainly doesn't get anywhere near the sheer fun nature of the original.

Eugenio Derbez is the rich, rude, person this time around. He plays Leonardo Montenegro, and ends up overboard in the first act, of course. Faris is Kate Sullivan, a single mother struggling to make ends meet. Her only encounter with Leonardo ended in disaster, as he not only refused to pay her for her time but also threw her cleaning equipment into the water. Which helps to motivate Kate when the news displays Leonardo as someone who has washed ashore with no memory of who he is. She is now going to make him a hard-working husband and father, just long enough for her to feel she has been given what she is owed. Well...maybe a bit more.

Based on the original script by Leslie Dixon, this update cannot do enough to maintain enough laughs while also staying self-aware enough to acknowledge the problematic nature of the main premise. Bob Fisher and Rob Greenberg, who also directs, don't help. If it was anyone other than Faris in one of the main roles then this would have been unwatchable. As it is, it meanders along from start to finish, sprinkling occasional amusing lines in between moments that show the two leads finding a "surprising" connection that will have to be broken in time for the big finale.

It's no surprise to see that Greenberg has a filmography full of various TV projects. Overboard certainly feels like a TV movie that somehow managed to sneak into cinemas, the material so flat and lacklustre that it can't even be saved by supporting turns from Swoosie Kurtz and Eva Longoria (who are, frankly, standouts in a supporting cast that is missing a required injection of personality, although John Hannah also does a decent job).

But the biggest lack of personality is felt whenever Derbez is onscreen. I didn't think I was overly familiar with the filmography of Derbez but it turns out that I have seen a number of films that have had him there, in supporting roles, and I have just never registered him. I was going to be charitable and consider the fact that Derbez wasn't used to comedy but it appears that most of his movie roles have been in comedies, making it more bewildering that he isn't any better here. He's lucky to be working alongside Faris, who carries the whole movie along the track and over the finish line, thanks to her sheer force of will and personality. And the child actors all do well too, I shouldn't forget about them.

This was always going to be a difficult film to remake, especially at a time when it is much more difficult to overlook the many egregious behaviours and stereotypes that are often seen in romantic comedies, but there's no excuse for delivering something THIS bland.


You can buy the movie here.
Americans can buy the movie here.

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