Tag Archives: C-

OVERBOARD

Producer: Eugenio Derbez and Ben Odell
Director: Rob Greenberg
Writer: Bob Fisher and Rob Greenberg
Stars: Eugenio Derbez, Anna Faris, Eva Longoria, John Hannah, Mel Rodriguez, Cecilia Suarez, Hannah Nordberg, Alyvia Alyn Lind, Paton Lepinski, Emily Maddison, Josh Segarra, Jesus Ochoa, Fernando Lujan, Cynthia Mendes, Mariano Trevino and Swoosie Kurtz
Studio: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and Pantelion Films

C-

Garry Marshall’s 1987 “Overboard,” with Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell, was an amiably mediocre amnesia-based comedy that one might have thought, if one gave it any thought at all, would be resurrected as a bad Broadway musical. Instead some bright folks, headed by writer-director Rob Greenberg and his co-writer Bob Fisher, decided that a remake of the thirty-year old movie was a better idea, with a gender reversal as the big twist. It wasn’t.

Co-produced by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and Pantelion Films, this version is divided almost equally between English and Spanish segments, with the latter subtitled. Whether this attempt to cross over the usual divisions in audience by language will succeed is an open question, but the resultant hybrid is an interesting experiment along those lines, though the colorless writing and direction make it a failed one.

“Overboard” will also test whether Eugenio Derbez, a major star in Mexico, can achieve similar status north of the border. The opinion from this quarter is probably not, because his comic method leans toward an exaggerated, frenetic style that seems at odds with the more laid-back, sardonic approach that usually spells major success in Hollywood farce.

But his wild-eyed, slapstick approach fits the conception of the plot fashioned by Fisher and Greenberg. Derbez plays Leonardo Montenegro, the rich, arrogant son of the head of a huge building-supply company (Fernando Luján). Leo is a profligate playboy, who is sailing his palatial yacht off the Oregon coast. Hard-working single mom Kate (Anna Faris) is brought aboard to clean the carpets, and when she refuses to get him a snack he refuses to pay her and tosses her overboard. The poor thing loses her job and is stuck with a bill for the equipment she lost—all this while trying to put food on the table for her three daughters (Hannah Nordberg, Alyvia Alyn Lind and Payton Lepinski) and study for her nursing exam.

When Leo responds to a summons from his supposedly dying father to return home and claim the company leadership over his ambitious sister Magdalena (Cecilia Suarez), he falls overboard, winding up in Kate’s small coastal hometown of Elk Cove with amnesia. His sister actually tracks Leo down in the hospital, but, anxious to get control of the company for herself, pretends not to recognize him. Kate, on the other hand, prodded by her best friend Theresa (Eva Longoria), claims him as her husband in order to get back at him: she’ll get a construction job for him with Theresa’s husband Bobby (Mel Rodriguez) to help with household costs, and make him do the cooking and cleaning so she can study for her upcoming test.

Where the plot goes from there follows sitcom formula to the letter. Leo becomes more and more a homebody, devoted to Kate and her kids and trying to do his job as best as he can, despite the fact that he’s never done an honest day’s work in his life. Kate, meanwhile, begins to regret how she’s treating Leo, and mulls over confessing her scheme, but by that time the girls have grown so fond of him that they rebel against the idea. Eventually, of course, the truth comes out, and the dilemma for Leo and Kate is where to go from there. Their decision is not, of, course, especially surprising, though Greenberg and Fisher drag out the purported suspense as long as they can, constructing an elaborate finale at sea and then topping it off with a series of cute clips from various characters during the credits.

The new “Overboard” has the occasionally bright line and a few amusing cinematic allusions (one to the earlier picture and another to “Jaws” when Magda tries to claim that he died of a shark attack (check out the name tag of Elk Cove’s sheriff), but its major strength comes from the supporting players. Derbez is irksomely frantic and Faris simply pallid (she’s was apparently chosen for the part simply because, here at least, she bears an uncanny resemblance to Hawn), but Longoria and Rodriguez are both engaging, and some members of Bobby’s crew—Josh Segarra, Jesús Ochoa—are cheekily enjoyable, even if the dialogue they’re given is pretty flat. John Hannah gets some decent moments as the chief officer on Leo’s yacht, but Swoosie Kurtz is wasted in a cameo as Kate’s mother, who joins a dinner theatre troupe rather than stay in Elk Cove to take care of his grandkids. A “Mikado” scene she’s in toward the close is an embarrassment.

“Overboard” is technically okay—as shot by Michael Barrett it looks like most middle-grade Hollywood rom-coms. But this mediocre feature-length sitcom is just another unnecessary remake of a movie that wasn’t particularly good in the first place.

I FEEL PRETTY

Producer: McG, Nicolas Chartier, Alissa Phillips, Dominic Rustam and Mary Viola
Director: Abby Kohn and Marc Silverstein
Writer: Abby Kohn and Marc Silverstein
Stars: Amy Schumer, Michelle Williams, Rory Scovel, Aidy Bryant, Busy Phillips, Emily Ratajkowski, Adrian Martinez, Naomi Campbell, Lauren Hutton, Tom Hopper, Sasheer Zamata and Dave Attell
Studio: STX Films

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It was once the convention of clichéd Hollywood movies that when somebody got bonked on the head, it resulted in convenient amnesia, which would be resolved by another blow to the noggin. In Amy Schumer’s new romantic fantasy, a well-meaning but strangely off-kilter comic critique of unrealistic standards of female beauty, it instead causes a flood of unaccustomed self-confidence, which is, of course, eventually eliminated by another blow that brings her character back down to earth and invites a rather insipid third-act moral about being yourself.

Renee Barrett (Schumer) is introduced as a plain but spunky young woman working in the basement online department of cosmetics powerhouse Lily LeClaire, alongside good-natured slob Mason (Adrian Martinez). She thinks herself unattractive because she doesn’t fit the image of beautiful women who populate not only the covers of glossy magazines but the glitzy offices of the firm she works for, now run by Lily’s (Lauren Hutton) granddaughter Avery (Michelle Williams, using a hilariously whispery baby-doll voice).

So while joining with her equally “plain” girlfriends Vivian (Aidy Bryant) and Jane (Busy Philipps) to make a dating video—an effort that gets a humiliating zero views—she decides to take action, joining a stationary bike class to lose weight. Unfortunately the apparatus collapses beneath her. (The implausibility of this is overwhelming: the script seems to suggest that she’s elephantine, which is clearly not the case.) And in a second tumble she hits her head, leading her to see herself as a super-beauty in her own mind and deal with others as if they shared that perception. We’re never shown how Renee now sees herself physically, but the bewildered reactions of those she now interacts with are amusing enough. One such is Ethan (Rory Scovel), whom she meets at a dry cleaner’s and insists on sharing phone numbers with. The two soon become a number of a different sort.

Meanwhile she decides to apply for the receptionist’s job at the Lily LeClaire corporate office, and is hired not just on the basis of her utter assurance that she belongs with all the slinky beauties in the place but because the company is about to start a line of products designed to appeal to “regular” customers at outlets like Target, and she can offer suggestions about what the “non-elites” will respond to. She not only becomes a trusted advisor to Avery and a prospective spokesperson for the new line of products, but catches the eye of Avery’s playboy brother Grant (Tom Hopper).

But the experience has its drawbacks. Renee’s over-confidence leads to a breach with Vivian and Jane as she pushes them to change, too. And when, right before an important conference, she clumsily crashes into a shower window after becoming flustered over Grant’s attention, her confidence evaporates, and she’s thrown into a renewed funk about her looks, even threatening to break up with Ethan. Whatever lesson can she—and we—learn from all this?

Schumer gives her all to the formulaic script by Abby Kohn and Marc Silverstein, who specialize in romantic comedy conventions, though here they try to add some messages associated with the actress’ prior work satirizing common presumptions about beauty, though they turn out to be rather mixed, leading to lots of overstatement (as in a wet tee-shirt contest). They also directed, apparently giving their star very free rein—many of Schumer’s riffs seem to be improvised, and she delivers them with an energy that can come across as manic.

The rest of the cast is pretty much overpowered by her, but Williams cuts a delicious figure of privilege clueless about ordinary folk, while Scovel makes an ingratiatingly laid-back romantic interest (though, to be honest, there are occasional hints about layers to Ethan’s character that go unexplored). Martinez gets some juicy moments, and Emily Ratajkowski a few nice ones as a stunning woman who teaches Renee that looks aren’t everything. The technical crew bring their A game to the enterprise, with Florian Ballhaus’ cinematography complementing William O. Hunter’s production design and Debra McGuire’s costumes. Only Tia Nolan’s editing feels a mite slack, though that might be the result of the direction.

“I Feel Pretty” has already aroused some online criticism of fat-shaming, and it does open itself up to accusations of insensitivity, not only about what used to be called “plus-size” women but to thin-as-a-rail, supermodel types as well. Such is the movie’s uncertain messaging that a viewer might request a tap on her skull after seeing it, hoping that it will bring about a two-hour bout of forgetfulness so that she won’t recall having sat through it. Setting aside such larger objections, one can dismiss it as simply not as funny or insightful as it ought to be.