Chuck Koplinski | Stars keep 'Overboard' afloat

Chuck Koplinski | Stars keep 'Overboard' afloat

There's really no reason for Rob Greenberg's "Overboard" to exist.

The 1987 original with Kurt Russell and Goldie Hawn is a perfectly serviceable light comedy that's readily available on streaming services and has become a cornerstone of the TBS movie canon.

Actually, the true purpose of this vehicle is to introduce American audiences to Eugenio Derbez, Mexico's biggest movie star, one of the producers of this film and, from the basis of this outing, a capable actor with an affable screen presence. I wouldn't mind spending more time with him, which of course will be determined by the success of "Overboard" at the box office.

The obvious change from the original to this incarnation is the gender switch of the two leads. This time out, Anna Faris is the representative of the working class, a single mom named Kate with three kids who makes ends meet by delivering pizzas and working for a cleaning service.

She's in desperate need of help, as her mother (read: daycare provider) has left her high and dry with her final nursing exams looming large in the near future. Every day is a crisis, and things hit a new low when she's sent to billionaire playboy Leonardo's (Derbez) super-yacht to clean the champagne-soaked carpets. His arrogance runs up against her independent streak, and before you know it, she has been tossed overboard with all of her equipment. He repeats this feat later in the night after he drunkenly stumbles into the drink, waking up on shore the next morning with amnesia.

The fun begins when Kate claims Leonardo as her husband and convinces him that they are long-time marrieds and that he's a recovering alcoholic that works construction. Suddenly, the soft playboy is required to do manual labor as well as deal with an attractive woman who keeps him out of her bed and three young girls desperately in need of a father figure.

It's easy to see why Derbez is so popular south of the border, and there's no reason he can't have a successful career in Hollywood if he chooses projects wisely. His arrogance is tinged with a sense of boyishness that's ingratiating, and when he's required to be a working stiff, his natural charm holds him in good stead. His scenes with the three young actresses playing his daughters have a natural feel to them, he can pull off physical comedy what with all the shenanigans he must deal with on the construction site and is genuinely romantic as well.

The comedic elements at play here are old hat for Faris, and she delivers the funny without breaking a sweat. The most pleasant surprise is the chemistry between the two leads as they crack wise at each other with perfect timing, and there's a general sense of camaraderie and respect between them that's a delight to see. They're likable enough for me to want to see them handed a better, more intelligent script.

The requisite happy ending is stumbled toward in the film's awkward third act that can't end soon enough. There are no surprises here except for the movie's vision of today's America. Mexican immigrants and American citizens are portrayed as honest, hard-working folk who may be business owners or blue-collar workers who are all upstanding citizens. Everyone works together, helps each other out and embraces their respective cultures without threat of ridicule or prejudice.

While some may see it as a naive notion, it serves as a vision of what is possible, a baby step toward finding a solution to what divides us. If nothing else, "Overboard" should be remembered for this.

Overboard (★★★ out of four)

Cast: Anna Faris, Eugenio Derbez, John Hannah, Eva Longoria, Mel Rodriguez, Swoosie Kurtz, Hannah Nordberg, Cynthia Mendez and Alyvia Alyn Lind.

Directed by Rob Greenberg; produced by Ben Odell and Eugenio Derbez; screenplay by Bob Fisher and Greenberg.

An MGM Films release. 112 minutes. Rated PG-13 (suggestive material, partial nudity and some language). At Savoy 16 IMAX.

Also new in theaters

'Terminal' true to its name. (0 out of four). Today's movie lovers live in a golden age whether they realize it or not.

While the quality of what appears on screen is questionable at times, never before have there been more films being made or more different ways to see them. Classic movies, foreign works and other oddities are available through a variety of streaming services, while cable systems offer video-on-demand selections, films that are generally not released in theaters but can be seen from the comfort of your home with a valid credit card and a click or two.

This arena has exploded within the last 10 years, offering a platform for movies that might not otherwise be seen or those dumped by studios that know they've got a turkey on their hands and don't want to shell out the cash for a traditional release, instead hoping to rope in a few unsuspecting souls who are tempted by a familiar name and have $6.99 to spare.

Margot Robbie's latest, "Terminal" is such a film, a pretentious disaster that's the epitome of style over substance, suffering from grandiose delusions of grandeur. Confusing from the first frame to the last, it proves to be nowhere near as smart as it thinks it is, wanting us to mistake poor screenwriting for depth laced with ambiguity.

Robbie is Annie, a mysterious femme fatale who cuts a deal with an unseen someone to steal back power and influence he lost from a collection of lowlifes. Chief among them are dying hit man Bill (Simon Pegg), mobster Illing (Nick Moran) and hustlers Lenny (Matthew Lewis) and Vince (Dexter Fletcher), all of whom are saddled with secretive baggage that will be revealed in good time.

In order to get what she needs and to set these dolts at cross-purposes, Annie disguises herself as a stripper, waitress and girl-about-town to lure each of them to their doom. The members of this cast are all far too talented for a script such as this, authored by director Vaughn Stein, but at the very least, Robbie seems to be having fun trying on these different dramatic hats.

The same can't be said for the viewer, as vagueness is the order of the day where the film's characters and their intentions are involved. What is supposed to be intriguing proves vexing as one unanswered question piles upon another, and instead of generating curiosity or suspense, the result is a growing sense of irritation. I can say with no hesitation that I didn't care for any of these characters or what happened to them, and the sooner I was out of their company, the better.

Many cigarettes are smoked sensuously amid the shadowy haze Stein employs to create a film noir atmosphere. However, these effects are far too obvious, as is the purposely twisted narrative and stylized performances. Instead of these genre elements seeming to grow naturally from the corrupt nature of the characters and setting, it all seems much too calculated, the result being a film that's trying far too hard to be something it's not.

The title of "Terminal" is accurate though: You'll feel as if you're slowly dying watching it, wasting 90 minutes of your life you'll never get back.

"Terminal" can be found on various video-on-demand platforms.

For DVR alerts, film recommendations and movie news, follow Koplinski on ­Twitter (@ckoplinski). He can be reached via email at chuckkoplinski@gmail.com.

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