Overboard

It’s hard to get excited by remakes, and the first 30 minutes of this movie were so bad, my wife and I thought it was going to be a waste of two hours. Then something started happening. We started chuckling at the jokes. And we began to be amazed at the performance by Mexican actor Eugenio Derbez (who blew us away when we saw him in person at CinemaCon last year). His transformation from a rich, playboy who’s a jerk…to a hardworking and loving “father” is sweet. It’s the type of rom-com that women will say…as Eva Longoria’s character said, “Where can I get a fake husband?” It’s also the type of rom-com that men can watch with their wives/girlfriends and enjoy themselves.

For any critic that wants to complain about remaking the 1987 movie, calm down. That wasn’t Citizen Kane. The original was an average movie, with good chemistry between Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell. And for the critic I saw online that called this “Psychological exploitation” — you can also calm down. It’s just a campy comedy, don’t overthink it. Yes, in real life, if somebody took advantage of somebody with a brain injury, we’d have them arrested; or call them Bill Cosby. This is already a highly unbelievable premise, like when characters switch bodies in movies. So just go with it, and don’t ask your doctor friends if that’s really how people would act if they had amnesia. Think about it. Do any of us even know anybody that has ever gotten amnesia after being hit on the head, or know anybody that knows somebody that has? No. Yet it’s an easy premise for comedies, so just sit back and stop analyzing (and that’s advice that’s hard for movie critics to give).

Director Rob Greenberg and (the three screenwriters) switched the genders of the lead characters for this reboot. For those that aren’t familiar with the original story, this involves a rich guy, Leonardo (Eugenio Derbez), who fires a cleaning lady (Anna Faris, looking like a young Goldie) simply because she wouldn’t fetch him a mango. He pushes her off the boat, and throws her cleaning equipment into the ocean. She’s fired from her job, and while complaining about it to her best friend (Eva Longoria), they see a news story about a man with amnesia. It’s the same guy, and they hatch a plan to claim him as her husband. They figure if they get a month of work out of him, the debt is paid off. It’ll also help her study for her nursing exam, which is hard to do when she’s holding down various part-time jobs while raising three kids.

Greenberg also added some cultural elements which worked well. My wife made the observation as we were leaving, about everyone talking about “inclusion” in movies, and having various voices (ie ethnicities) in the writers room. This film certainly felt like that, as it wasn’t playing cheap stereotypes. For example, the mostly Mexican construction crew Leo gets hooked up with, aren’t just one-dimensional stereotypes. There are also Latino characters that have money, not just ones hauling bags of cement. They’re all interesting characters, too. One is played by Mel Rodriguez, as the boss (and Longoria’s husband). He makes the predictable jokes about the guy having “lady hands” and not being able to do manual labor. He has funny comments about the Seattle Seahawks and a boat purchase his wife hates. The always welcome Swoosie Kurtz has a fun role as a grandmother that would rather pursue her acting career at old folks’ communities, than help her daughter with babysitting duties.

You’re not going to think this is the funniest movie ever, but it’ll have you smiling throughout. It certainly has its heart in the right place.

Once it gets past the slapstick goofiness of the first half hour, it finds a nice groove.

It’s also nice that, along with the salsa tunes, I got to hear some stuff written by Vivaldi, Ray Davies, and Gilbert & Sullivan — some of my favorites. It’s even better that when you hear the “Three Little Maids From School”  bit from The Mikado, it has Kurtz cracking you up on stage.

For a movie that wasn’t screened for the critics here, and the early reviews have been rather negative, my wife and I were pleasantly surprised.

3 stars out of 5.