I must admit: my expectations were low when I walked into “Overboard.” I was never a huge fan of the Goldie Hawn original and the whole premise seemed too dated and problematic to really win me over. I also was not the biggest fan of “How to be a Latin Lover.” If I’m being totally square, I’m a tough sell when it comes to comedies. However, “Overboard” charmed me, perhaps even seduced me, and I came away so glad that I had given this sweet little remake a chance.
Warning: spoilers ahead! Don’t say we didn’t warn you…
2018’s “Overboard” is a remake of the 1987 “Overboard,” with a gender-bender twist. A spoiled, billionaire playboy from a lavishly wealthy Mexican family gets amnesia after falling off his yacht. A single mom, desperately studying to become a nurse and working multiple jobs, convinces him that they are married as an act of revenge for his refusing to pay her for a cleaning job.
The film stars Eugenio Derbez (“How to be a Latin Lover”) and Anna Faris (“The House Bunny”), and is directed by Rob Greenberg. “Overboard”” is produced, in part, by Pantelion films; backed by Lionsgate and Televisa and making major strides as the first major Latino Hollywood film studio. They’re also responsible for “How to be a Latin Lover” – I bring that up on purpose.
Something I love about “Overboard” is the full embrace of all that heavy Latinx influence. The music, the performances, and the small nuanced relationships between characters are all dripping of Latinx culture. Anyone that has spent any time around a Mexican family knows all the warmth and joking and light, but still endearing, machismo. “Overboard” wrapped you up in the embrace of that feeling and it’s an experience that a great deal of mainstream media is missing. I hope to see much more of Pantelion leaking into mainstream and getting wider distribution. The underlying current of telenovelas was an expected, but charming move, and I appreciate the consistency. Telenovelas are a frequent reference and joke in the film that bleeds over into the improbable story and actions unfolding before us. It seems that it would be such an obvious choice, but it is executed quite well and is more seamless than overwrought.
What I never would have expected coming in to “Overboard” was a poignant commentary on social class and the culture of immigrants. Sure, there’s the low hanging fruit of ‘I’m rich, you’re poor, and oh how different our lives are.’ “Overboard” goes one step further and discusses not just the plights of the working class v. the elite, but the working class via the scope of immigrants. Naturally, a huge area of exploration in this Latinx film is with the story of immigrants: fake document jokes and faking out your white boss by pretending not to understand English. Damn funny stuff. But also the discussion of backbreaking labor as opportunity and the gratitude of having a job and being able to make their lives better. It was not a “beat you about the brow” type of point but it was quietly and elegantly made – a welcome surprise to this critic.
With respect to performances, clearly we’re dealing with some very funny people. Anna Faris was her typical wide-eyed, precious self. She’s nothing if not consistent. I really enjoyed her in this movie but do note that she is doing the same Anna Faris that we’ve seen in so many films. Our supporting cast was strong and stole plenty of scenes, but the absolute standout of the film was Eugenio Derbez. Again, I did not like “How to be a Latin Lover” and I was prepared not to like Derbez’s performance as Leonardo. Goddamn, he did a great job. The cheesy, over-the-top performance was all there and accounted for, but he could just as easily turn on the loving and sincere faux father/husband. Derbez and Faris acted so well off each other and I certainly enjoyed taking my rom-com with a little extra tenderness.
Which really brings me to the crux of my review: “Overboard” is every bit the cheap comedy that is advertised. Cheesy, at moments trying too hard, and therefore unfunny, but so incredibly sweet. This film has so much heart. It is warm. It is loving. TWICE in this movie, my heart strings were pulled to the point of my eyes going misty. Derbez gets full credit for that. He brought such sincerity to his role that it elevated another silly comedy to something that I immediately wanted to show my partner.
Some small praise: “Overboard” has hella strong reference game:
- A subtle nod to the original 1987 film with “the last case of amnesia [in the area] being some lady in the ’80s”
- Cute sight gags that cleverly set up critical plot points, like a yacht called “Birthday Present”
- FAVORITE: Derbez’s Leonardo supposedly died of a shark attack, and concerned family members call into a certain police chief, who claims to be an expert on shark attacks…a police chief wearing the name tag M. Brody…as in Chief Martin Brody of “JAWS.” (I normally criticize any film that reminds me that I could be watching a better movie, but I let this slide because it was so damn clever.)
“Overboard” was an unexpected delight – a sweet little comedy that packed in a lot of heart and gave so much more than simply repackaging the original. I warmly recommend it. “Overboard” hits theaters on May 4!
Caitlin is a lean, mean writing machine based in Austin, TX. Her love of film began when she was shown “Rosemary’s Baby” way too early in life. Bylines include The Financial Diet and Film Inquiry. Caitlin is a member of the Online Association of Female Film Critics and the Women Film Critics Circle.