Overboard | Review

Overboard | Review

★★★

Well, this is surprising. Top marks to Rob Greenberg. Overboard is the remake of a terrible Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell comedy from 1987 and isn’t half bad. Sweet, funny and even relevant, this one’s a keeper.

Allegedly, Garry Marshall’s eighties slug is widely considered to be a guilty pleasure. Terribly dated, Overboard was the story of a so-called ‘rich bitch’ who was tamed to domesticity – as in Shakespeare’s Shrew – by an irked ex-employee, after falling from her yacht and suffering amnesia. Whilst husband and wife pairing Hawn and Russell sparkled in the film, it was lumbered by sexist gender stereotypes and an undeservedly twee finale.

Following the present trend for gender-swapping – see also Ocean’s 8 – 2018’s Overboard reverses the roles to see Eugenio Derbez play a billionaire playboy who is tricked by a trainee nurse, brought to life by Anna Faris. She’s a harassed mother of three, holding up multiple jobs but facing eviction; he’s the jerk son of the third richest man in Mexico – ‘I’m ready for my Bloody Mary, mainly Mary’. There’s a touch of double standards but the twist makes sense, with one line revealing Greenberg’s film to be a sequel.

In its opening stretch, Overboard lives up low bar set by its predecessor. The first shot is of bikini bimbos, the script is rather flat and the set up remains dim. If amnesia has ever been anything less than contrived as a plot device, this isn’t the premise to change that: Overboard is dependent on the understanding that said playboy’s power hungry sister denying she knows him is enough to enable his disappearance and presumed death.

Except, somehow, this slowly but surely clicks. Faris is, of course, a hugely likeable performer – she’s proved this even in the worst of her recent career choices – but it is Derbez who is the revelation here. A major star in Mexico, the actor’s relative anonymity in Hollywood makes for a perfect fit here, matching well the premise that Leonardo is a big name entertaining a new audience. Transgressing from big head to big heart in the course of the film, Derbez sells a journey that could never happen in so short a timeframe. There’s an energy between he and Faris too; an investible chemistry strong enough to keep the charm from straying too deep into the realms of schmaltz. In 1987, the frisson between Hawn and Russell was the sole highlight on show; here Derbez and Faris is the principle of a number.

Other highlights of the remake are a delightfully perky score by Lyle Workman and the addition to recognisable romcom territory of a more family friendly comedy. It’s all very wholesome and nuclear but there’s modernity in the film’s approach to marital relationships. Leonardo and Katie are a partnership: both are employed and both play a significant part in the lives of ‘their’ children. Gender swapping may be on trend as a mode in Hollywood remaking but Greenberg’s decision to do so here brings more to the table than mere gimmickry. There’s satisfaction, amid the current climate, in watching an entitled man be forced to live as the other half live, both sexually and economically. If the plot’s flimsy, the message that equality brings forth a better life for all is admirable.

Overboard isn’t radical, nor is it hilarious. Gags range from lame to chucklesome, whilst some lines could be called both: ‘My life was richer when I was poor with you.’ Ultimately, it is good natured and you can’t say fairer than that.

T.S.

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