‘Overboard’ manages to stay afloat

The 1987 Gary Marshall romantic comedy, “Overboard,” has been revamped with a new script and cast that answers the call for a more diverse, modern approach and all-around 2018 appropriate.

Originally starring real-life couple Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell, the film surrounded an uppity heiress and the Oregonian contractor she stiffed. After falling overboard and waking up with amnesia, the heiress is deceived by the contractor into believing they are married, doing the housework and taking care of four children.

The revamped version stars Anna Faris, best known for playing Christy Plunkett on the CBS show “Mom”, and Eugenio Derbez, crossover Mexican comedy actor.  This 21st-century remake includes a gender swap of the characters and introduces a bilingual script alongside a diverse cast.

In this film, Derbez plays Leonardo Montenegro, the self-absorbed billionaire, who stiffs Kate, a working mother of three and aspiring nurse, of her pay after cleaning his yacht.  Leonardo falls overboard his yacht and wakes up in an amnesic state. In order to make time to study for her medical exam, Kate comes up with a rouse to convince an amnesic Leonardo that they are married and puts him to work and care for others for the first time in his life.

Derbez, one of Mexico’s top comedy actors (and my personal favorite) has successfully made a splash in the Hollywood with his 2013 film “Instructions Not Included” and his recent 2017 hit “How to be a Latin Lover.”  

It is unlikely that the ‘87 version, riddled with misogyny, would hold up to the standards of a 2018 audience.

If Faris’ character had been referred to as a slave and tricked into domestic work the way Hawn’s was, movie-goers all over America would be banning the film and giving major side-eye. The increased diversity also puts a Mexican in the unlikely role as the billionaire, and not as the help.

This movie, like Derbez’s other films, has a bilingual script.  However, unlike his previous  two American hits, this film has not been marketed as a niche film for those who are Derbez fans but rather a mainstream Hollywood studio film that Derbez happens to be the lead actor in.  

This marketing strategy is proof that Derbez has made his mark in Hollywood and proven the value of inclusion in a traditionally white industry.

What intrigued me most about the film was the inclusion of Mexican culture, specifically Mexican entertainment.  This film gives a nod to CW hit show, “Jane the Virgin” by having a telenovela-like plot whose characters watch telenovelas themselves.  

Although this film made major improvements from the original, it didn’t manage to capture the same rom-com feel. That might be because Faris and Derbez are not a real-life couple like Hawn and Russell were but nonetheless, it felt forced. Faris and Derbez may share talent as a comedy duo but not as a couple.  

“Overboard” is not poised to become a classic by my account but it’s sure to make you laugh. Derbez scores big with this film as he lands perhaps his biggest role yet since his crossover to Hollywood with “Instructions Not Included.” I wouldn’t be surprised if this continues to pave the way towards Derbez’s stardom.

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