Sunday, March 9, 2014

The Unique Qualities of Going Overboard (1989)



There is something to be said for when an attempt is made to try something new with a film.  The filmmaker does something new, different, or out-of-the-box with the movie they are making.  Aspects of the movie are unique.  These movies have some merit to them.  They deserve appreciation for what they do.  Many of the movies may turn out to be failures due to this vision that the filmmaker is putting on screen.  Others will become classics remembered for generations.  Each movie deserves a certain level of respect for the ideas, even if they were not executed greatly.

One of the movies that tries something different is called Going Overboard.  Released in 1989, the movie stars Adam Sandler as a waiter on a cruise ship who wants to be a comedian.  After a while, some terrorists board the ship to try and kill a pageant contestant.  That’s about all that there is to the story.  This was the first film that Sandler starred in.  It was made prior to him becoming a cast member on Saturday Night Live, which is quite a surprising thing to me.

Going Overboard is a unique movie.  It isn’t a good movie by any stretch of the imagination, but it is interesting to look at what the movie attempted and to try and imagine what it could have been.  Yes, this is a movie that had potential.  The potential just happened to be squandered somewhere along the way and what was left was a product that was flat and unfunny.  Nothing clicked the way that it could have, and it all comes down to a few factors.  Going Overboard was made on a shoestring budget.  It was filmed on a cruise ship while the ship was traveling between ports.  The low-budget and quick shooting schedule helped to make the movie feel rushed and incompletely fleshed out.  However, the idea still stands out as something that makes the movie unique.  Not necessarily good, but unique all the same.

The movie is structured as following.  A military figure is watching movies and stumbled upon a movie about Schecky Moskowitz (Sandler) trying to be a comedian on a cruise ship.  Schecky talks to the camera in a Ferris Bueller style fourth wall breaking manner.  The structure of the movie within the movie is sort of like a documentary, featuring the talking heads of beauty pageant contestants.  One says something about the military figure and he sends two men to kill her.  These men then become a part of the movie within the movie.  To completely understand what I’m saying, you probably need to watch the movie.  Not that I would recommend that.

Structurally, this is something rarely seen in film.  It doesn’t completely work, mind you.  The fact that the two assassins become a part of the movie that the military man is watching completely destroys the sensibility of him watching the movie.  How can he possibly be affecting the movie that he’s watching on tape, which had to have already been filmed?  That makes no sense.  It makes for an interesting structure to the movie, but it is an impossibility.

Where Going Overboard truly falls apart, though, is the comedy.  The ship comedian that Schecky looks up to is an obnoxious asshole whose jokes do nothing but prevent laughs.  He’s the most unlikeable character I’ve seen in a comedy since I saw that dickless guy in Ghostbusters way back when.  There are no traits to the guy that make me find him funny.  Schecky’s comedy isn’t much better, nor are the jokes provided by any of the other characters throughout the runtime.  Structurally, I am intrigued by Going Overboard.  Looking at the dialogue, the movie is lost.  For a movie involving stand-up comedy, it doesn’t know how to land a joke.  That’s a major problem.  It’s one that sinks the movie.

Going Overboard is a hard movie to write about.  On one hand, the idea behind it is solid and it’s easy to see where it could have gone well with the right vision.  On the other hand, the jokes don’t land and it loses its grip on reality while trying to be realistic in some way.  This movie is not worth watching, as it is nothing but a disappointment due to the fact that it could have been so much better.
There are a few notes before we’re done here:

  • Allen Covert and Adam Sandler were each featured in one of the Deuce Bigalow movies, and years before that, they were in Going Overboard.
  • Billy Bob Thornton popped up for a bit.  He also showed up in Chopper Chicks in Zombietown.
  • This movie was suggested by @rosstmiller.
  • If you would like me to watch a movie for the Sunday “Bad” Movies that you choose, comment below or tell me on Twitter.

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