by Hope Madden
More than 30 years ago, Garry Marshall directed one of those Eighties films: good-heartedly hateful and contrived in that colorfully rom-com way, Overboard.
It is the ridiculous story of comeuppance wherein a small-town carpenter (Kurt Russell), cheated out of payment by a scantily clad, uppity billionaire (Goldie Hawn), concocts a plan to get the money he is due when she washes ashore with amnesia.
Flash forward several decades and director Rob Greenberg makes his feature debut after a lifetime of sitcoms, revisiting Leslie Dixon’s 1987 screenplay.
His update sees Kate (Anna Faris) as a single mom just trying to pass that damn nursing exam so she can quit her two jobs (pizza delivery, carpet cleaner) and offer a better life for her three daughters.
She’s sent to sop up the champagne spillage on a yacht, meets spoiled heir Leonardo (Eugenio Derbez), argues and ends up in far worse financial trouble than she’d been in a day before.
Now she’ll never get that nurse’s license!
When the billionaire washes up back in Elk Cove, Kate’s pizza place boss (Eva Longoria) figures the least he owes Kate is some some day labor (so she doesn’t have to replace that job he lost for her), and enough chores to give Kate the time to study.
Only until the exam—then we’ll tell him.
The premise is no fresher or more believable this time around, though they do update in a couple of interesting ways. Leonardo is a Mexican heir; the day laborers only speak Spanish and most of the pizza crew is bilingual Mexican American, so about fifty percent of the film is subtitled.
This is an interesting choice, since the point of both versions of Overboard is to point out the hideous gap in work ethic and morality you can find between the rich and poor. Choosing not to “Roseanne” that image of the American working poor was a solid decision. Not that it can help this movie.
This is simply not a premise that has the strength to stand the test of time. The original was a success on the charm and natural (and obviously abiding) charisma of its stars. Why was it successful? Goldie Hawn was a comic genius, Kurt Russell was gorgeous, and it was the Eighties. That is it.
The remake has none of those things going for it. Greenberg, updating Dixon’s script with Bob Fisher (Wedding Crashers), can’t write his way out of the contrivance. Though Faris is certainly a talent, she lacks the charisma to carry a film.
Perhaps most damaging is the utter absence of chemistry between the leads, making every inch toward romance feel unnatural and, honestly, almost creepy.