About ready to toss in la toalla on the North of the Border experiment with Mexico’s likable comic Eugenio Derbez.
The sweet-nature of his learn-to-be-a-dad farce “Instructions Not Included” are a distant memory, and “How to Be a Latin Lover” had more opportunities for laughs than actual giggles.
The deathly remake of “Overboard” pretty much seals the deal. An interminable amnesia rich-guy-put-to-work romp that relies on Anna Faris to be his straight man, there’s barely a laugh in it, the only giggles brought on when he loses his shirt for a couple of scenes where he vamps up his Jetskiing playboy alter ego.
He’s gone from being Mexico’s Rowan Atkinson or Eddie Murphy to Mexico’s Adam Sandler, or a version of a Sandler flunky — David Spade.
It’s a new version of of the old Goldie Hawn/Kurt Russell screwball comedy about the rich person who falls off a yacht, gets amnesia and is “claimed” by the only poor slop to know how rich they actually are. They remade that kidnapping and holding the insufferable rich a labor hostage the only way they could in this #MeToo era — by swapping the genders of the protagonists.
Derbez is playboy Leonardo, an heir burning through the bucks on his motor yacht, “Birthday Present,” and abusing the onboard help (John Hannah is his major domo) as he does.
Among those he treats badly is steam-cleaner Kate (Faris), a widow with three daughters, two jobs and a need to pass her nursing exam so that she can give them all a better life.
When Leonardo has his accident, her pal (Eva Longoria) talks her into faking photos, faking documents and taking possession of her “husband” at the hospital — not for his money, because he doesn’t remember he’s rich, but for light housework, cooking and day labor in construction. Revenge comes in him putting in the first “honest day’s work” in his life.
Make “Leo” sleep in the garage, because he broke his AA promise. Don’t know if he’s a “pervert,” but we’ve had hints.
“Mommy, what’s a pervert?”
“It’s nothing honey.”
“Then can I have one?”
The way this must, by law, play out is that “Leo” must make himself useful, discover the true joys of life are family and hard work and being reliable, and learn how to cook and bond with the working class, making himself worthy of a woman like Kate.
There’s little novel in this set-up (Leo’s doctor references the first “Overboard.”), aside from the fact that nobody this rich and probably infamous could be anonymous in the Internet age, so the entire concept here is a big old bust.
The parallel story, with Leonardo’s scheming sister (Mariana Trevino), the one that “does all the work” at the company, plotting to fake his death (raiding a campfire pit for ashes for Leo’s urn) has no spark to it, either.
And the colorful work crew Leo joins isn’t colorful enough.
Derbez has an audience on both sides of the border, and one cannot blame a guy for trying to reach out for new fans. But two hours of limp jokes in Spanish and non-existent ones in English should cow him into playing to his strengths, or at least improving his American representation. Otherwise, Hollywood will continue fobbing disposable ideas off on him, like some rube fresh off the boat, plane or bus.
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for suggestive material, partial nudity and some language.
Cast: Eugenio Derbez, Anna Faris, Eva Longoria, John Hannah
Credits:Directed by Rob Greenberg, script by Bob Fisher, Rob Greenberg. An MGM/Pantelion release.
Running time: 1:52