There was something so wonderfully simple about the original 1987 Overboard, starring Goldie Hawn and her then-husband Kurt Russell. Maybe it was just watching it 15 times over the years – basically whenever it came on cable in the late-80s and early-90s – but I feel like it deserves more fond remembrances for being whip smart and hilariously funny than it gets these days.
Now 30 years later the movie has been remade. Gone is the meta conceit of the costars being married in real life, with the new Overboard starring Anna Faris and Eugenio Derbez. This time the gender roles have been reversed. Where the original had Russell as a carpenter who encounters the snooty Hawn, in this version Faris plays Kate, a blue-collar employee of a cleaning service assigned to the yacht of the wealthy Leonardo, played by Derbez. After he fires her and inflicts other indignities an accident causes him to lose his memory. Seeing a chance for revenge, Kate convinces him she’s his wife, taking him home to a life several rungs below what he’s accustomed to. Hilarity ensues.
The two costars are shown on the first poster, both standing and looking not only soaking wet – there’s even a puddle of water at their feet – but more than a little befuddled and confused. The general premise is laid out in the copy at the top, “A riches to rags story. If only he could remember it.”
It’s actually a little impressive how little effort the poster makes to sell the movie as a comedy or include anything about the relationship between the characters. Why wasn’t Faris positioned as lording her power over Derbez in some way? Where’s any visual element that could convey how out of place he finds himself and how she takes advantage of his confusion?
Instead, anyone looking at this poster would be forgiven for thinking that they both are relative equals who suffer some form of indignity and find themselves out of sorts and needing help. They both look similarly shook, which is not an accurate representation of the story.
The first trailer shows just how hard Kate is struggling to make ends meet for her and her kids, working a number of dead-end jobs. She finally breaks when Leonardo insults her and destroys her cleaning equipment. He falls off his boat and washes up on the beach of the town she lives in, which is when she hatches her scheme to convince him the two of them are married. That leads to her putting him through the ringer, not only taking care of the kids but working a construction job he is, of course, ill-suited for.
It’s funny enough and shows that it’s adhering roughly to the outline of the original, albeit with the gender swapping in place. Both Faris and Derbez are legitimately funny actors but this doesn’t look all that amusing, playing way too broadly.
The second trailer hits many of the same beats at first but then adds more of how Leonardo integrates with Kate and her family, eventually becoming someone that everyone enjoys having around, not just a jerk to be tortured and degraded at every turn.
Online and Social
There’s not much happening on the movie’s official website, just a “Synopsis” and “Trailer” and that’s about it. There are links to the Facebook, Instagram and Twitter profiles as well as a button to save the release date to your calendar of choice on the homepage as well.
Advertising and Cross-Promotions
There doesn’t seem to have been a ton of advertising done for the film. Most of it seems to have come in the form of promoted posts on social media that used either the full trailer or shorter videos to drive ticket sales and awareness.
Media and Publicity
There wasn’t a whole lot of publicity or press for the movie until just a couple weeks prior to release. That was kind of surprising given how a remake of a much-loved comedy (albeit one that now seems to tell a tale of exerting gender roles in an effort to gaslight an unsuspecting woman into complacency) would seem to be worthy of a bit more attention.
When things did get started the primary focus was Derbez. A feature spotlight in The Hollywood Reporter focused on how he’s flown under the radar for more than a few years now and has only begun to break out because of his own hard work and ability to create his own opportunities. His desire to “break stereotypes” was also called out as he seeks to offer more accurate representation of Hispanics on screen. That issue was also mentioned by many of the film’s stars at its premiere.
If you want to see the difference in how media treat male and female stars, contrast the career-centric approach taken for Derbez with how many of the recent headlines around Faris focus on her relationships, either romantic or with her son. She did have a chance to talk about why they wanted to gender swap the roles in the remake as well as how they got the blessing of Hawn and Russell for this new version.
Again, I kind of expected this movie to get a slightly more robust marketing and publicity push. Everything here is more or less fine, though some elements like the poster convey a minimum viable effort approach being taken here. It’s not that the original Overboard is an unabashed comedy classic on the level of Caddyshack or something, but it has a decent enough reputation that trading on the name is seen as a positive, so why not just try a little harder? The campaign is funny enough in spots, but could have done much more to bring out the real comedy of the story.
Chris Thilk is a freelance writer and content strategist who lives in the Chicago suburbs.