You know the comedy isn’t working in “Overboard” —– and the actors also know it isn’t working —– by looking at their hands.
As each line misses the mark, the leads seem to gesture with their extremities and shake their heads a little more violently, as if they can somehow physically will the soggy jokes to land. And when all comedy hope is gone, the filmmakers just throw another character off a boat for laughs.
“Overboard” is a remake of a 1987 film starring Goldie Hawn and directed by Garry Marshall, a movie that wasn’t anywhere near either Hollywood legend’s best projects. The new version is a weak facsimile of an already mediocre film.
Anna Faris is struggling worker Kate, who meets billionaire playboy Leonardo (Eugenio Derbez) and gets stiffed for a carpet cleaning job. When Leonardo gets amnesia, Kate tricks him into being her husband.
Faris is a good fit for the hapless mother of three, making criminal decisions in the name of comedy that look even more monstrous in 2018, yet somehow remaining almost sympathetic.
But the writing is weak throughout, and the delivery is often weaker, especially from the miscast Derbez. An enormous star in Latin America, Derbez seems about a generation too old for the part he’s playing. The chemistry is off between Faris and Derbez, who banter as if they’re reading their lines in different rooms, hours apart. (Awkward editing is a problem throughout the movie.)
The slapstick seems ill-timed, supporting characters have a community theater vibe, and the madcap feeling the writers seem to be going for never really materializes. The film has clearly been developed for Latin American audiences as well: Much of the dialogue is Spanish with English subtitles. The filmmakers try to blend different styles of humor, satisfying no one.
“Overboard” does deliver a few warm human moments, including the developing relationship between Leonardo and his new manual labor co-workers. Eva Longoria fills in nicely as Kate’s best friend, adapting seamlessly into a blue-collar role after so many years as a socialite on “Desperate Housewives.”
But as the film gets better in the more drama-driven second half, it starts to collapse under the weight of the outdated concept. As more ethical lines are crossed, and the felonies being committed during the ruse multiply, “Overboard” seems more twisted than funny.
Rated PG-13 for suggestive material, partial nudity and some language.