The new movie Overboard isn’t your typical remake: it swaps the characters’ genders to change its original story into one that’s a bit more feminist. Anna Faris takes on the role that was originally played by Kurt Russell, getting her vengeance on Eugenio Derbez’s character, originally portrayed by Goldie Hawn. But the gender switch isn't the only big difference between the original Overboard and the remake. The premise of the new movie remains similar to the original, but it becomes a brand new, empowering story that brings up new themes and topics absent in the 1987 film.
This new take on Overboard doesn't include any of the original's characters. Instead, brand new ones are introduced, making the story feel so much fresher. After years of fans and critics calling attention to how problematic the original movie was, filmmakers Bob Fisher and Rob Greenberg, and co-screenwriter Leslie Dixon, decided it was about time to instead turn it into a film that calls out male and class privilege.
The remake also breaks stereotypes by having a Latino actor play the role of the wealthy, powerful man. In an interview with The Wrap, Derbez expressed his excitement over playing a character who doesn't fall within the trope of the working class Latino. "“The natural thing is that the Latino is going to play the carpenter and she’s going to be the millionaire, but no! This time the Mexican is going to be the millionaire and she’s going to be cleaning the floors," said Derbez.
In the remake, Derbez plays Leonardo, a playboy from one of Mexico’s wealthiest families. He’s had everything handed to him his whole life and thinks he deserves it all. Meanwhile, Faris' Kate is a single mother of three young daughters who has to work multiple minimum wage jobs to support her family while also going to nursing school. She works as a carpet cleaner in Leonardo’s yacht, dealing with misogynistic comments from him. When she calls him out on his abhorrent behavior, he throws her cleaning equipment off the boat, so when she finds out he fell off the boat while partying and lost his memory, she decides she’ll find a way to get the money she owes the cleaning company back by making Leonardo believe he’s her husband.
The original Overboard follows a similar premise, but with some problematic undertones; it was dubbed “the most heartwarming rom-com about gaslighting ever made” by Birth Death Movies. In that film, Goldie Hawn played Joanna, a spoiled heiress who marries a man who matches her lifestyle. Dean (Kurt Russell), is a carpenter hired to work on her yacht. When he finds out that she fell off the boat and doesn’t remember who she is, he decides to take advantage of it and claims she’s his wife. Knowing that she’s married, he decides to trick Joanna into becoming a mother figure to his sons and a homemaker. Meanwhile, her family demands Dean return Joanna, but in true Hollywood fashion, she recovers her memory and still stays with Dean even though he tricked her into leaving her marriage to be with him.
In the remake, Kate does trick Leonardo into living with her, but it feels much less sinister. It becomes a learning experience for him, in terms of his work ethic and his treatment of women. And by flipping the genders, including making Kate's children daughters, the movie makes it seem like a positive experience that helps Leonardo respect women and stop seeing them as sexual objects.
Swapping the genders also allows more women to join the cast, with brand new characters played by Eva Longoria, Emily Maddison, and Swoosie Kurtz. Longoria plays Theresa, Kate’s friend, who is supportive of her hard work and wants her to be happy. This type of character was devoid in the original movie and is a welcome sight to get now.
Not all remakes are necessary, but the Overboard remake has been embraced by many who feel the original story needed some big changes.