Updated: Feb 6, 2020
Eugenio Derbez is one of the biggest Latin-American movie stars in the world. Foreign language films generally do not do well in the United States, but two of his vehicles that mixed English and Spanish have been successful here. In fact, 2013’s Instructions Not Included is the highest grossing Spanish language film in US history and the fourth highest grossing foreign language film overall. Since he has proven he can attract Hispanic audiences to his projects, it is no surprise that a major American studio (MGM) wanted to get into the Eugenio Derbez business. So, here he is, starring opposite Anna Faris in the romantic comedy Overboard.
Overboard, a remake of the 1987 Kurt Russell/Goldie Hawn farce of the same name, is about a rich playboy (Derbez) who falls off his yacht and suffers total amnesia. A struggling, widowed, mother of three (Faris) gets revenge on him for an earlier insult by claiming to be his wife. Fish out of water humor results. Unfortunately, none of it is particularly amusing.
Derbez is neither funny nor likable as either the spoiled jerk or the duped innocent. Anna Faris, while game, is entirely wasted as the straight-woman. Her character is difficult to sympathize with. Also, her motivation for setting the plot in motion is questionable at best. Even more than that, there is absolutely no chemistry between the two central actors. For a romance to work, the audience has to want the leads to end up together. In this case, I never once believed Derbez and Faris as potential romantic partners. Because of that, Overboard got off to a bad start it was completely unable to recover from.
It contains the elements of a culture clash comedy as well as a criticism of the upper class. But neither of them go anywhere. The culture stuff is used for cheap laughs concerning the Derbez character having never worked before. However, the rich vs poor tropes are essentially what keep the plot moving (very slowly) forward.
There are constant contrasts between the snobby, self-serving rich and the hard-working, respectful, working-class. Yet, in the final act, when the filmmakers have the opportunity to really say something, they chicken out in favor of a conclusion that is safe and contrived. It is like Rob Greenberg (directing for the big screen for the first time, he also co-adapted the original screenplay with Bob Fisher) had no clue what his story was actually about. He just threw a bunch of different ideas together with the assumption that his cast would be able to make it funny. He was wrong.
The result is 108 minutes (minus the end credits) that feel far, far longer than that. Between the uninspired slapstick, characters who act much dumber than they are supposed to be, an annoyingly intrusive score and a very confused message, this is one of the more pointless films I have seen in a while. Everyone involved has done better and, no doubt, will make better movies in the future.
That being said, the decision to cast Derbez as the male lead is likely going to pay off with solid box-office success. A major Hollywood studio banking on a Mexican actor is the type of thing we need more of. Maybe the next time they try it, it will be with a screenplay that is not so lazy.
1 out of 5
Anna Faris as Kate
Eugenio Derbez as Leonardo
Eva Longoria as Theresa
Mel Rodriguez as Bobby
John Hannah as Colin
Alyvia Alyn Lind as Olivia
Hannah Nordberg as Emily
Payton Lepinski as Molly
Directed by Rob Greenberg
Screenplay by Bob Fisher and Rob Greenberg