"OVERBOARD" — 2 stars — Anna Faris, Eugenio Derbez, John Hannah, Eva Longoria; PG-13; in general release
"Overboard" is the latest piece of evidence for people who think Hollywood has run out of original ideas. At this point, guessing which not-quite-forgotten relic will return to the big screen has become a kind of twisted game. "Mr. Mom," maybe?
Rob Greenberg's film is a remake of the 1987 comedy starring Kurt Russell and Goldie Hawn. In that film, Hawn played an uber-wealthy snob who gets some cosmic comeuppance when she falls off her yacht, gets amnesia and winds up doing heavy labor for one of her former blue-collar victims (Russell), who convinces her they're married.
This time around, the gender roles are switched, but the premise is essentially identical. Anna Faris plays Kate, a single mom in Elk Cove, Oregon, delivering pizzas and cleaning carpets while trying to put herself through nursing school. Eugenio Derbez plays Leonardo, an oblivious playboy who spends his days drinking and cavorting with supermodels on his boat (named "Birthday Present") while waiting for his sickly father Papi (Fernando Lujan) to hand over the family shipping business.
Kate and Leonardo meet when Kate is hired to clean the carpets of the Birthday Present. Things go badly, and Leonardo winds up throwing Kate and her equipment into the harbor without paying her.
As a result, Kate loses her carpet cleaning job, and when her delusional mother (Swoosie Kurtz) decides to pursue her passion for musical theater rather than help with her granddaughters, Kate's noble prospects appear doomed.
Opportunity comes when Leonardo falls off his boat, then washes up on the Oregon coast with no memory of his identity. Leonardo's sister Magdalena (Cecilia Suarez) — the only person who knows what happened — wants to run the family company herself, and is happy to pretend her brother is dead. So on the advice of her best friend, Theresa (Eva Longoria), Kate shows up at the hospital, claiming to be Leonardo's wife, then takes him home and puts him to work.
Once the pieces are all in place, "Overboard" settles in to teach Leonardo about the value of hard work and family while Kate learns that … you shouldn't use medical conditions to manipulate people into being your fake spouse? Or maybe just that revenge is bad.
Faris and Derbez try their best with the material, but while there are a handful of laughs and nice moments, the script often falls short. In a way, the premise that worked OK back in the '80s just seems a little too out of bounds here, and while Faris and Derbez are both appealing individually, their chemistry together pales next to that of Russell and Hawn.
"Overboard" doesn't leverage its opportunities. In one early scene at the hospital, for example, a doctor makes a throwaway remark about Leonardo's condition being unprecedented, save for a woman back in the '80s. This wink-wink nod to the first film suggests something: Could Elk Cove really be some kind of cosmic Bermuda Triangle for wealthy boaters in need of spiritual redemption? Now that's an idea worth exploring.
You can try to judge the film on its own merits, in which case "Overboard" is just another hit-and-miss comedy. But it's awfully hard to separate text from context in situations like these.
There are movies that deserve remakes, even movies that need remakes, but with "Overboard," too often you're just left asking, "Why?"
"Overboard" is rated PG-13 for for suggestive material, partial nudity and some language; running time: 112 minutes.