Mexico’s clowned prince of comedy in movies, Eugenio Derbez, stars as Leonardo Montenegro, a crass, spoiled, and super-vain Mexican billionaire playboy whose fancy yacht pulls into an Oregon port for some minor repairs. While he’s there, his scheming sister Lucia (Cynthia Mendez) in Mexico plots against him to steal their immensely wealthy family business away from their dying father. But Leo could care less, as he’s more interested in champagne, chicks in hot tubs, and ordering his servants around.
And then we meet Kate (Anna Faris), a struggling single mom who’s not only working two jobs, but trying to pass a stringent nurses test AND raising three little girls, Molly (Payton Lepinski), Olivia (Alyvia Alyn Lind), and angsty-teenager Emily (Hannah Nordberg). If you saw the original movie, you already know what happens: (or see review below) Kate goes to Leo’s yacht, but is verbally abused by this loathsome worm. Leo is knocked overboard later on and washed up in the morning, completely void of any memory, giving Kate the idea for a little payback. Getting her girls in on the plan, as well as her BFF at work (Eva Longoria), Kate goes to the hospital claiming Leo is her husband.
Leo, still having amnesia, goes with her and lives his “real life” as a poor father of three, working for the first time ever at a construction site, and learning how to cook. As you might expect, slowly… very slowly… Kate begins to like Leo, as the paternal side of him comes out and she sees what a great “dad” he is to her kids. Ah, but let’s not forget that Leo’s amnesia isn’t going to last for long and sooner or later he’s going to figure out who he really is, right? The third act (where I swear Anna Faris looks exactly like Goldie Hawn does in the 1987 movie) comes with all the neat little red ribbon bows you’d expect, but with some amusing twists.
What sets THIS remake apart is the unusual script by Leslie Dixon (Mrs. Doubtfire, 1987’s Overboard), Bob Fisher (Wedding Crashers), and director Rob Greenberg. Besides the forced subplot, involving the usurping of the Montenegro company, almost half of the movie is in Spanish with subtitles! Many of the cast, including Faris and her kids, speak Spanish as a second language in the movie, which is a delightful change of pace and style for your average, boring remake. The Mexican characters thrown into the mix posses a flavor not ordinarily added, giving this movie a nice kick and nuance, despite the formulaic plot.
After his disastrous How To Be A Latin Lover last year, I was hoping Derbez would come back in a better movie, and I wasn’t disappointed. He gets to show his expressive comedic & soft sides as both a playboy jerk and a loving father-figure. Faris is Faris, whether it’s on her hit TV series, Mom, or any other movie; she’s great at being her. There are some very funny callbacks to the 1987 original movie, a quick LOL shout-out moment to Jaws, a clever Telenovela cross-over, and a running gag with Kate’s theater-crazed mother (Swoozie Kurtz) who’s love of being on stage keeps degenerating.
In the height of the 80’s director Garry Marshall ruled the cinema with movies like Pretty Woman, Runaway Bride, and his many TV hit shows (Happy Days, The Odd Couple), so this little nugget came out with real-life couple Goldie Hawn & Kurt Russell and people came away thinking it was meh. So what happened?
The story had promise: a spoiled, selfish, and narcissistic heiress named Joanna Stayton (Hawn) is aboard her ultra-luxury yacht with her equally selfish husband, Grant (Edward Herrmann). While their waiting for their yacht to be repaired in the rural hamlet of Elk Grove, Oregon, Joanna hires rugged and handsome local carpenter Dean Proffitt (Russell) to remodel her closet. He puts up with her rude and condescending attitude because he really needs the money, but when she refuses to pay him after an argument, Joanna pushes Dean off the ship! However that night, as the yacht sails away, Joanna falls overboard and receives amnesia when she’s picked up the next day.
Seizing an opportunity for revenge and payback, Grant goes to the hospital and claims the mystery woman as his wife, Annie! Joanna, not knowing that this guy isn’t her husband, goes along with his story, and goes home with him, meeting his four young bratty and undisciplined sons. Living in squalor, Dean decides to have her ‘work off her unpaid bill to him’ by doing every odd job around the house and taking care of “their” children. Joanna/Annie initially hates dealing with Dean, his sons, the heavy load of chores, but she soon adapts. As she does this, she learns about the boys’ struggling social life, their hopeless family issues, and that Dean is secretly working two jobs to pay bills.
And yup, you guessed it, she begins to fall in love with Dean and develops a maternal love for the boys. She even helps Dean in budgeting, parenting, and realizing his dream in building a profitable miniature golf course in town. Meanwhile, philandering party animal Grant is loving life without Joanna, but after her mother comes calling, he’s forced to go find her—which he does and BOOM! Joanna’s memory comes flooding back, making her leave Dean and the boys… but not for long, as true love rears its ugly head and Joanna goes back to Dean after realizing she prefers poverty, noisy children, and a handsome guy.
Leslie Dixon was famous for writing fantasy, fairy tale-ish type screenplays like Mrs. Doubtfire, Freaky Friday, and Pay It Forward where impossible situations work themselves out in ridiculous manners and then conclude with a nice little red bow in the end. (smiley face emoji) This story is a pure example of that, with all the schmaltz, broad comedy, and face-palm plotting you’d expect from this epic piece of nonsense. No doubt that Hawn & Russell have chemistry, but the weak and often laughable storyline, gaping plot holes, and hokey dialogue should have been left for the Lifetime Network.
Marshall directs this well, having his actors play to their strengths, but this movie just can’t escape the overly syrupy charm it has. It’s really “cute”. Look for some familiar faces that are here for a quick paycheck: Roddy McDowell, Katherine Helmond, and Marshall’s “good-luck charm”, Hector Elizondo, who he has in nearly every one of his films. Box office-wise, it made bank for MGM and went on to be a major hit on DVD sales.