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A Contemporary Take on ‘Overboard’

overboard-Anna Faris as Kate and Eugenio Derbez as Leonardo in Overboard. Photo Credit Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures  Pantelion Films (3)_rgb

Anna Faris as Kate and Eugenio Derbez as Leonardo in Overboard. Photo Credit: Metro Goldwyn Mayer Pictures / Pantelion Films.

In 1987, a wealthy obnoxious woman named Joanna Stayton (played by Goldie Hawn) wakes up in a hospital with amnesia to a man claiming to be her husband. Dean Proffitt, a carpenter played by Kurt Russell, is from a different tax bracket, yet he insists Joanna is his wife – he identifies her through a tattoo on her butt.

Of course, Dean isn’t Joanna’s husband, he’s merely a poor, working class man trying to break even with a sour elite from society’s upper echelon. As how most romantic-comedies go, by movie’s end, Joanna and Dean’s love does become legitimate and all the heartwarming feels come to fruition.

In MGM’s 2018 remake of Overboard, out on May 4, the movie follows the riches to rags plotline almost verbatim, but the addition of Latino film star Eugenio Derbez and his 3Pas Studios production company, the rom-com adds a little extra flavor in its humor and casting.

In this version of Overboard, the roles are reversed: Derbez plays Leonardo Montenegro, a spoiled playboy from a wealthy Mexican family who crosses paths with Kate Sullivan, a hard-working single mother played by Anna Faris. True to the original, Derbez's Leo is a purveyor of all play and no work; everyone outside of his familial circle is treated as a subordinate, including Kate on their first meeting. The story goes topsy-turvy once he takes a spill overboard and washes up onto Oregon shores with zero recollection of who he is.

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Courtesy of Metro Goldwyn Mayer Pictures / Pantelion Films.

In an interview during the film’s press tour stop in San Francisco, Derbez said having the characters switch gender roles played a huge part in refreshing the storyline. It also opened the door to break away from Hollywood’s tendency to type-cast POC actors. A huge goal of the film was to showcase Latinos existing at various economic levels.

“We thought the switching genders would be smart to avoid direct comparisons between Anna and Goldie, and me and Kurt,” he explained. “But also I wanted to break stereotypes. I was tired of playing the poor guy or the gardener or the cook or the drug lord or the narco.”

Watching Leo flip into an affable working-class dad of three is sweet, though some tendrils of rich-Leo remain: His taste for exquisite foods, need for cleanliness and, yes, his desire to dance the horizontal tango, much to Kate’s dismay. Derbez’s charm makes Leo hard to dislike, even when he’s in full-blown bratty billionaire mode. He’s clearly a product of his environment; the idea of nature versus nurture comes to mind.

The jokes throughout the film make a sound effort at bridging Latino and American audiences together, with co-directors and screenwriters Rob Greenberg (How I Met Your Mother, Frasier) and Bob Fisher (Wedding Crashers) rounding out the humor with their light-hearted, though on-the-button shtick that Derbez said brought an “edgy, refreshing” contemporary take to the original Overboard story.

By poking fun at specific traits or habits found in the differing statuses and cultures – the pizza cooks watching telenovelas in the kitchen or upper class naivety – Derbez, Greenberg and Fisher make attempts to reveal some common ground between the international markets.

“Comedy doesn’t travel that much, it’s so local, it depends on status, age, everything,” Derbez said. “I’ve been trying to understand what works in both countries, and I think with this film, I’ve cracked the formula.”

Overboard is now playing in theaters.