It’s just over 30 years since Goldie Hawn tumbled off her yacht and into Kurt Russell’s denim-overalled arms in the original Overboard, so maybe this is Hollywood’s way of showing restraint — nobly slow-rolling the remake of a hit movie from a decade already so thoroughly plundered, for better (Mad Max) and worse (Ghostbusters, Dirty Dancing, Poltergeist, Annie, Total Recall, Red Dawn, Friday the 13th, Footloose).
Like a lot of those, Overboard tweaks the formula just enough to make it modern-ish. And like them too, loses some essential essence of what made the movies they’re revisiting so beloved (if not necessarily great; nobody ever said Robocop was Citizen Kane) in the first place — though it has a goodhearted sweetness that feels less crassly, willfully “new” than most reboots.
This time it’s a woman (Anna Faris) who’s the struggling single parent done wrong by a rich brat (Eugenio Derbez) on a boat. Faris’ widowed Kate is barely making the rent on two menial jobs, struggling to study for a nursing degree and take care of her three young girls at the same time. Derbez’s Leonardo Montenegro is an international playboy cruising through rural Elks Grove, Ore. (don’t they all?) in a sort of endless floating orgy, guzzling champagne like Gatorade and chasing giggling sea bunnies in bikinis across the stern.
After a messy slumber party below decks, he needs the carpets cleaned; Kate does that kind of thing, when she’s not memorizing bloody-stool diagnoses or delivering pizzas. It’s mutual dislike at first sight when he makes fun of her face, stiffs her on the bill, and peevishly sends her expensive vacuum to a watery grave.
So when he keels tipsily over the side of the ship later that night and turns up in Elks Grove with complete retrograde amnesia, Kate’s best friend (Eva Longoria) sees an opportunity: If Leo can be be convinced he’s a long-lost husband, he could be a breadwinner, a babysitter, a cook, and a housemaid too.
Derbez is a superstar across Latin America, and for the most part he’s goofily endearing here. A lot of what works best in his Overboard is the easy multiculturalism: A good chunk of the dialogue is in Spanish with subtitles, and the script factors in Hispanic identity and pop culture as an ordinary fact of American life.
But Derbez is also 56, which puts a sort of strange tinge on Leo’s winky Peter Pan syndrome. And though he and Faris both look like woodland creatures rendered in animé, with their enormous round eyes and tiny bodies, the love story between them never feels like anything more than a necessary plot construction. (To be fair, Hawn and Russell had already been a couple for several years by the time they signed on; they had the advantage of going Method on chemistry).
Without that kind of connection between the two leads or the sharp-nosed novelty of the original script, it’s harder for director Rob Greenberg (Scrubs, How I Met Your Mother) to sell the wild improbability built into the movie’s premise. (Not to mention various crimes and misdemeanors, including kidnapping, extortion, and false imprisonment — though the idea of an anonymous playboy billionaire in the age of social media may be the biggest fantasy of all.) Instead, Overboard lists and wanders through the shoals of secondhand comedy and eventually, just drifts away. C+