By: BabyRuth (Four Beers) –
It’s only a matter of time before we start getting to the 80s/90s films that would benefit from a remake. The ones that were awful and could only be improved upon (I’m looking at you, Howard the Duck). Until then, we’ll have to suffer through a few more unnecessary attempts at remakes of movies that are better off left alone.
The late Garry Marshall’s 1987 Overboard stars Goldie Hawn as an heiress who falls off her yacht and suffers from amnesia. A carpenter (Kurt Russell) convinces her (and police) that the woman is his wife and at first, to get revenge on being stiffed for a job, pretty much treats her like a slave. But wouldn’tchaknow, after several wacky hijinks, over time they develop real feelings for each other. The relationship (built on lies) is challenged when she regains her memory, but of course, true love conquers all and they live happily ever after.
That sounds pretty terrible summarized but it actually works, thanks to a charming screenplay and the chemistry between Hawn and Russell. Still, this is the type of movie that could only really only exist in the 1980s as the concept was merely zany back then but oh so #problematic these days (as a child of the 80s I’m rolling my eyes as I type that). So it’s an odd choice for a remake but here we are.
Anna Faris may have Goldie Hawn’s bangs and similar comedic chops but she is the Russell character here, named Kate. Kate is a single mother of three young girls (also gender-swapped from the boys in the original), struggling to make ends meet by delivering pizza and cleaning carpets while studying for her nursing exam.
One day she is hired to clean the champagne and who-knows-what-else soaked carpets on a docked yacht owned by billionaire playboy Leonardo Montenegro (Eugenio Derbez), son of the “third richest man in the world.” The two meet sorta-cute but it quickly sours. They verbally spar after Leonardo demands Kate fetch him some mangoes, eventually erupting into his pushing her, and her expensive cleaning equipment, off the yacht as it sets sail. Kate is then fired from the carpet cleaning job as well as responsible for paying the company back for the equipment.
That evening Leonardo falls overboard himself and when found ashore the next morning, has no idea who he is. Kate discovers this and is egged on by her best friend Theresa (Eva Longoria) to claim Leonardo as her husband so he can work for her [Theresa’s] husband’s construction company to pay Kate back for the lost wages and ruined equipment. He can also help out with the housework, giving Kate some time off to study for that important exam. How can this plan possibly fail?
You’d think since this guy is one of the wealthiest people in the entire world that someone would recognize him immediately. Not so! Well then, you’d probably think that his family would find out and go to the police to claim him, especially since he’s next in line to run the multi-billion dollar business. Nope! Just the one sister who wants to steal the job from him. She is the only person who knows him to see the news that an unidentified man that matches Leonardo’s description has washed ashore and has amnesia. So she leaves him at the hospital, purchases an urn, and tells everyone that he died in a shark accident so she can take over the company from their ailing father. How can this plan possibly fail?
So Kate takes Leonardo, now referred to as “Leo” into her home (during the day while he tends to household chores anyway. At night, he sleeps in the garage on a cot.) and puts him to work at the construction company where the crew are building a pool and sadly not a miniature golf course. At first resistant and feeling like he doesn’t belong, Leo ultimately begins to fit in both at his manual labor intensive job and at home with Kate and her daughters. Pretty soon, he doesn’t have to sleep in the garage anymore.
Everything is great, until it isn’t and well, you know the rest.
Though it kind of is to me as it was a VHS staple of my childhood, Overboard isn’t one of those untouchable classic films. Most who saw the original around the time of its release or in years after on home video/cable remember it as one of many cute, fun, silly screwball 80s comedies. An updated version maybe could have worked…
There were a couple decent ideas in updating the concept. Of course making Faris’s character the struggling mother working two jobs and Derbez the rich snob who takes a late-night tumble off a yacht (in neither movie do they ever explain how these people don’t drown), is the largest deviation, correcting the gender politics the original is often called out for now being viewed through a modern-day lens.
In addition, it’s culturally diverse, with a good portion of the movie being in Spanish (like last year’s How to be a Latin Lover, this is both another crossover attempt for Mexican superstar Eugenio Derbez – and an easily swappable to Spanish subtitles for the English-speaking parts for Latino audiences).
Both of these are interesting ways to freshen up the formula and to attempt to make a retelling original enough to stand on its own. Plus, the cast, both primary and supporting, is great as well as up for the task.
So then, how could this plan possibly fail?
A few days ago I watched Cobra Kai (if you have not heard of it, WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU?), as in stayed up until 3AM binge-watching the entire ten part/five hour series and I have not shut up about it since. Seriously, I have found a way to work it into any and every conversation (kind of like I am doing right now) just so I can geek out over it until the other person suddenly remembers somewhere important they need to be at that exact moment. That’s how clever and fun and rewarding the experience of watching it was. Also, relieving, because when I first saw the trailer I was just as nervous as excited. Nervous that it would be a disappointment or even worse, that it would be a lazy, uninspired cash grab that shits all over a film that was a big part of my (along with many people’s) childhood. And it wasn’t only not that at all, but was so brilliantly executed that it was a gift to fans of the Karate Kid. It was an extremely rare example of nostalgia done right.
Oh, so, so right!
Overboard is the complete opposite. This is bad, lazy, uninspired cash-grab nostalgia. Despite the couple of aforementioned attempts at switching it up a little it’s basically the same, exact movie as the first. There are even entire lines of recycled dialogue. And then a couple ill-advised tie-ins to the original on top of that: it takes place in the same town (and I’m almost sure it’s the same house) and the doctor at the hospital treating Leonardo even mentions one other case of amnesia, “a pretty, young woman back in the eighties.” Like, hey, let’s continuously remind the audience of the better original. It never feels like anything other than an unnecessary rehash of the first movie.
The worst part is that it just isn’t funny. Like at all. Though it wasn’t a large success at the time of its release, the original has stood the test of time becoming somewhat of a cult classic because of its rewatchability and many quotable lines (“Oh eat your checkers!” “It’s a helluva day at sea sir.” “Buh-buh-buh-buh.”) The remake, despite having a cast of very talented comedic actors, has none. The physical comedy doesn’t generate any laughs either. It’s just a dull watch.
Me during my screening of 2018’s Overboard. Buh buh buh indeed.
Part of what made (1987’s) Overboard so great was the chemistry between real-life couple Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell. Not only was the sexual tension palatable, but their comedic styles meshed perfectly and they played off each other incredibly naturally and hilariously. While Faris and Derbez are both very talented and charismatic (and a hell of lot funnier than they get to be in this movie) it never feels believable. The writing is to blame for a lot of it. The relationship between the two characters just kind of rushes along from somewhat amicable to friendly to crazy in love according to the time-stamp and the outline of the original movie. It never feels earned or true.
The same goes for the relationship Leo develops with Katie’s three daughters. In the original, there’s a natural progression with Hawn’s character slowly proving she can hang with the boys (remember the chocolate syrup?) and eventually winning them over (the scene in the school where she tells off their teacher). The remake attempts to replicate this by having Leo make the girls yummy spaghetti and watch football games with them. He does teach the youngest how to ride her bike sans training wheels—which probably would have been a lot more effective if it had only been shown.
This needs to be repeated. So Leonardo is supposed to be the son of the third richest person in the world and yet NOBODY except for one person recognizes him? In 2018, a good-looking, globe-trotting, kazillionaire playboy mysteriously going missing would be international news. I mean, Jesus, I got a damn CNN Breaking News alert when Kylie Jenner had her stupid baby. (Sorry, that was mean. She’s stupid, not the baby. Though in that family the baby will probably grow up to be stupid too.)
If you want to see Anna Faris at her best, bingewatch some Mom episodes (or hell, even watch The House Bunny – an underrated gem IMO). If you want to see Eugenio Derbez play a formerly wealthy asshole turned poor but decent human being, watch last year’s How to be a Latin Lover (also underrated). But if you want Overboard, WATCH THE 1987 VERSION.
And if you are still jonesing for something new featuring a heaping serving of 80s nostalgia but done the right way, go watch Cobra Kai. Seriously, cancel whatever plans you have for the next five hours and go watch it right now. It’s fantastic.
Overboard (2018) Drinking Game
Take a Drink: whenever Leo says he can’t remember something
Take a Drink: whenever the construction guys refer to Leo as “Lady Hands”
Take a Drink: whenever Bobby talks about eating/his weight
Take a Drink: at every mention of pasta sauce (Take Two: when you see a jar labeled “Pasta Sauce.”)
Do a Shot: whenever Katie “boops” Leo on the nose (this only happens twice, I guess it was supposed to be a running gag but they forgot about it)
Do a Shot: whenever Leo dramatically says “Low blow“ (again, see above)
Take a Drink: whenever one of Leo’s sisters talks about playing the cello
Do a Shot: whenever you recognize a line from the original
Do a Shot: whenever anyone goes overboard