“Overboard” set sail into theaters last weekend and reeled in $29 million — a respectable sum but not enough to cover the $60 million fictional yacht the lead billionaire’s heir gets for a birthday present. The film stars Eugenio Derbez as Leonardo, an affluent Mexican playboy, and Anna Faris as Kate, a hard-working single mom in need of a break. The movie is a remake of the 1987 film of the same name.
Attempting to appeal to wider audiences and question stereotypes, this year’s producers inverted the roles and allowed an unskilled female laborer and mother of three daughters to pull one over a rich Mexican-American male amnesiac. They also incorporated a Spanish dialogue with subtitles, including many winking nods to the international sensibilities of the telenovela.
In the beginning, Leonardo seems as far from a family man as can be. Heir to a multi-billion dollar Mexican company and never working a day in his life, he parties endlessly with bikini-clad women spraying champagne suggestively. Needing the yacht’s carpets cleaned after a night of champagne-sprayed debauchery, his porter (John Hannah) calls Kate, the local maid for the job.
Not so much a meet-cute as a meet-disgust, the inception follows the original movie scene for scene. When Leonardo falls overboard and suffers from amnesia, Kate — who Leonardo pushed overboard the previous day — decides to enact revenge. She gets Leonardo from the hospital and pretends to be his wife.
The plot does not suffer from the loopholes and illogicalities as one might expect from this brief overview. The storyline is actually quite clever, as Leonardo’s sinister sister refuses to identify Leonardo at the hospital. Instead, his sister hopes that her ailing father will have no choice but to presume Leonardo drowned and thus give her control of the family business. When no one else can identify Leonardo, Kate steps in with fake photos and documents and asserts that Leonardo is her husband.
Even if the onset is initially cringe-inducing and slow, the pace picks up in the rising action as “Leo” becomes likeable and other characters contribute to the comedy.
Leo develops a good attitude and work ethic and begins to appreciate Kate even though she is, ironically, subjecting him to indentured servitude. He wins over the affection of Kate’s girls — and the audience — by teaching the youngest how to ride a bike, the middle child how to play football, and the oldest how to deal with boys. He even spices up their bland noodles and plain marinara sauce each night. He proves that his taste for the finer things in life is not incompatible with learning how to be a good father.
Supporting characters added a good deal to the film’s charm as well. A spunky best friend and her insecure husband, a carefree grandmother, and a cold-hearted old billionaire father (all related to various main characters) generated many good, clean laughs.
Of course, Kate ends up falling for Leo and despite the inevitable reveal that he is actually a philandering billionaire, he chooses to stay with her and her kids. Leo changes his life for the better and gives up his inheritance.
Still, one wonders if the film could have done better than $29 million if it had cast an even wider net in an attempt to appeal to children. Makers could have slowed down the Spanish dialogue and subsequent subtitles so that children could follow more easily. The film producers could have also taken out the small sex scene to attain PG-status. “Overboard“ ends sweetly, with powerful messages about family and children, so it should have appealed to those real-life audience members.
Ultimately, the movie is sweet that it probably missed out by not better appealing to younger audiences. Sadly, among my college-aged peers, it does not seem to be generating much buzz — which is especially sad when one speculates that producers only added the heightened obscenities to appeal to them.