Today’s feature is the often-forgotten early Adam Sandler vehicle, Going Overboard.
Going Overboard was directed and co-written by Valerie Breiman, who went on to direct Bikini Squad and Love & Sex. Her co-writers were stars Adam Sandler and Scott LaRose, as well as the uncredited Adam Rifkin (Small Soldiers, Mousehunt, The Invisible Maniac), who also produced the film and appears in the movie.
The cinematographer on Going Overboard was Ron Jacobs, who, since 2000, has only worked in film as a driver and transportation manager. The editor for the film, Randy D. Wiles, has primarily worked on television shows over the years, like Quantum Leap, JAG, NCIS, and Tequila & Bonetti.
The music for Going Overboard was composed by Steven Scott Smalley, who has primarily worked as an orchestrator on films like Iron Eagle, RoboCop, Tommy Boy, Starship Troopers, Tiptoes, and Paul Blart: Mall Cop.
The special effects makeup for Going Overboard was done by a team that included Michael Spatola (Iron Man 3, Little Monsters, Never Too Young To Die), Allan Apone (CHUD II: Bud the Chud, UHF, Deep Blue Sea, The Avengers), and Mary Brando (Bachelor Party).
The cast of Going Overboard includes Adam Sandler (Jack & Jill, Grown Ups, Billy Madison), Billy Zane (Titanic, The Phantom, Critters, The Brotherhood of Justice), Billy Bob Thornton (The Ice Harvest, Sling Blade, The Man Who Wasn’t There), Scott LaRose (The Sixth Man, Booty Call), Ricky Paull Goldin (Piranha II), and Peter Berg (Battleship, Aspen Extreme, Shocker, Hancock).
The plot of Going Overboard follows an aspiring comedian working on a commercial cruise ship, who desperate tries to figure out the secrets to effect stand up comedy and self confidence.
Adam Sandler to this day doesn’t acknowledge the existence of this film, and doesn’t list it among the credits on his website. Considering the quality of movies that he is willing to claim, that speaks volumes about how bad Going Overboard really is.
Going Overboard is widely loathed by audiences and critics alike, and currently holds a rating of 1.9 on IMDb, landing it in the website’s Bottom 100 films. The Rotten Tomatoes audience score isn’t any better: an abysmal 11%.
First off, the cinematography on the film is just horrible, though part of that is justifiably due to the production trying to film the movie in the cramped confines of a cruise ship, which certainly isn’t conducive to it. However, there are long shots and bad angles that go much deeper than just the difficulties of the environment. The fact that the cinematographer didn’t wind up with any other credits is no surprise given the product here.
Going Overboard does a lot of unnecessary fourth wall breaking, with most of the instances acting as transitions or outright apologies for the poor quality of the film. The film literally starts with Adam Sandler breaking character to explain that the movie had no budget, and tries to lower audience expectations out of the gate. The fourth wall is later broken in desperate attempts for laughs throughout the film, but it never really works.
It is interesting to see a pre-Saturday Night Live Sandler trying to take on a leading role. He is just as bad as he always is, but in a different sort of way. He clearly isn’t used to the spotlight in Going Overboard, and looks obviously uncomfortable with the camera on him. He also hasn’t worked out his trademark comedic cadence, though flashes of it pop up here and there throughout the story.If there is any trivial worth to the movie, it is to see how Sandler has managed to develop into his modern persona.
It doesn’t seem like anyone in the cast or crew of Going Overboard was putting in any real effort here. While the film was obviously filmed in a rush, it generally feels as if the motivation behind this movie is that the team wanted to go on a cruise together, and film along the way when they could.
For being as despised as it is, I actually found Going Overboard to be mostly watchable. It isn’t funny, and it definitely has plenty of technical and writing issues, but the team behind the film clearly wasn’t working with anything to start with, and didn’t much care about putting out a quality product at the end of the day. So, it is hard to have any kind of expectations for this flick: it is basically a home movie. I’m not sure if the self-aware aspect of the film helps it or hurts it, but I do know that this is a film I would still take over anything in Uwe Boll’s or Uli Lommel’s filmographies. Basically, there are far worse movies out there.
I actually think that there is a potentially funny movie hidden inside of this film somewhere. I could imagine this plot with someone like Louis CK, a genuinely talented self-loathing comedian, as a cruise ship waiter who is down on his luck, with dreams of doing stand up comedy. I could see an effectively brash comedian like Dennis Leary or Dennis Miller as the washed up antagonist comic, relegated from his banner years to doing a cruise ship show. Seriously, there is a potential movie there.
The thing that makes this movie stand out, over anything else, is the inclusion of countless unnecessary characters. For instance, the Greek God Poseidon and infamous dictator General Noriega both feature prominently as characters in the movie. The plot also manages to go completely off the rails, eventually featuring a Panamanian hit squad that has a deep love of stand-up comedy. The movie ends with Adam Sandler hooking up with the demigod daughter of Poseidon, and the rival comic
drowning after being tossed overboard in what is essentially a mutiny. That sounds more like the way you would end some sort of Greco-Roman epic, not an Adam Sandler comedy vehicle.
The bizarreness of the ending to this film, coupled with the unique incompetence behind the scenes, actually makes this whole mess relatively interesting to watch, in the same way that dissecting a mutated squirrel from Chernobyl might be.
I certainly can’t heavily recommend this movie, but it is one of the few bad comedy movies that I have ever gone back to rewatch. Most bad comedies try too hard to be funny, whereas this mess suffers from the exact opposite problem. It is certainly a unique movie, and I would at least recommend watching it for no other reason than that Adam Sandler doesn’t want you to.