“OVERBOARD” RETRO COMEDY TURN; “PATRICK MELROSE” ON TV
A Film and TV Review by Tim Riley
OVERBOARD (Rated PG-13) The remake of the Kurt Russell-Goldie Hawn comedy “Overboard,” three decades later in an era with broader concerns about sexual ethics, offers a gender-swap and cultural twist that is likely to prove more popular with general moviegoers than jaded critics. Nevertheless, it’s a valid question to ask why there was a need to revive a 1987 screwball comedy, other than finding a vehicle for Mexican superstar Eugenio Derbez to display his talent for comedy to a broader audience.
The switch this time is that Derbez’s Leonardo is the playboy heir to a vast construction business empire founded by his dying Mexican billionaire father, while his scheming sister Magda (Cecila Suarez) believes she should be running the family company. Anna Faris’ Kate Sullivan is a widow struggling to support her three daughters on two menial jobs, one of them being a carpet-cleaning service, which leads her to an assignment on Leonardo’s enormous yacht docked on the Oregon coast.
An argument that leaves Kate being stiffed for the work on the yacht is followed soon thereafter with Leonardo falling into the sea and being washed ashore with a bad case of amnesia. With the help of her friend Theresa (Eva Longoria), Kate shows up at the hospital to claim that the spoiled rich jerk is her husband Leo, seizing an opportunity for payback to get help paying the bills and doing housework while she studies for an upcoming nursing exam.Put to work on a construction crew run by Theresa’s husband Bobby (Mel Rodriguez), Leo proves to be unfamiliar with manual labor or work of any kind and is teased by the other Hispanic workers for having “Lady Hands.” The fish-out-of-water concept is milked for all its worth.
Predictably enough, Leo adapts to his new blue-collar life as well as assuming household duties, such as learning to cook, training the youngest child to ride a bike and cheerleading the girls at soccer matches. Domestication and hard work apparently suit Leo after all. To his credit, Derbez moves Leonardo from an amusingly caustic and acerbic tyrant to an understated role of the subservient faux husband Leo which infuses his plight with a deft comedic tone. Indeed, the comedy of “Overboard” is overly broad and exceedingly foreseeable, much like the telenova serials that entertain the kitchen staff at Kate’s second job in a pizza shop. But that does not make either unwatchable for some cheesy pleasure.
“PATRICK MELROSE” ON SHOWTIME By Tim Riley
The largely autobiographical novels of British author Edward St. Aubyn, realized in five editions, are the sum and substance of the anthology known as “The Patrick Melrose Novels,” which form the basis of the Showtime limited series “Patrick Melrose.” The Showtime series does not follow the chronological order of St. Aubyn’s novels, allowing focus to occur first on when Patrick Melrose (Benedict Cumberbatch) arrives in New York to collect the ashes of his late but not lamented father (Hugo Weaving).
The author’s novels, exploring the horrors of a highly dysfunctional upper-class English family, have been praised for revealing in stark terms the disturbing abuse heaped upon the titular character that resulted in childhood trauma and self-destructive behavior in adulthood. During the winter television press tour, Cumberbatch explained his passion for the books stemmed from his firm conviction that St. Aubyn was “one of the most, if not the most, extraordinary prose stylists working in the English language.”
Granted Cumberbatch is a very talented actor, and the five episodes of “Patrick Melrose” are certainly a rigorous test of his acting ability given that the intense subject matter deals with pedophilia, alcoholism, heroin addiction, class snobbery and self-loathing, to name a few topics. In the first episode, Patrick Melrose is in his twenties, tormented by painful memories that can only be quashed with copious amounts of alcohol and illicit drugs, rendering him into a damaging stupor in his swanky Manhattan hotel suite.
Even a dinner date with his dream girl Marianne (Allison Williams) goes so horribly wrong that one cringes at the awkwardness of his odd conduct and clumsy desperation for a romantic connection that is sure to be unrequited. Dining alone at a fancy restaurant where he imbibes plenty of cocktails is no panacea for his inner demons as he yells his private thoughts in such a raucous manner as to be unnerving and upsetting to the other patrons.
It’s not until the second episode, which now goes back to his childhood (Sebastian Maltz as the young Patrick), that we discover the paternal abuse to which his alcoholic, self-absorbed mother (Jennifer Jason Leigh) is completely oblivious. Melrose inhabits a corner of the universe that the sane among us, fortunately, are disinclined and likely unable to inhabit. The focus on his fear and loathing may prove for many to be hard to swallow for entertainment value. The writing and acting of “Patrick Melrose” is strong, and yet the story is so bleak and depressing that sticking with the five episodes may be an insurmountable challenge.