Going Overboard (1989)

I stumbled upon “Going Overboard” at work and subsequently discovered that it was available for free on YouTube. I was interested to see what Adam Sandler was like so early in his career, before joining Saturday Night Live and after only a few appearances on The Cosby Show. Within the first five minutes of the film I had already become skeptical of it ever displaying any redeemable qualities.

My expectations were met spot-on.

The film follows Sandler as a cocktail waiter on a cruise ship full of beauty pageant contestants. Sandler is aware of the camera and frequently speaks to it, often having conversations with it that the other characters ignore. Not a bad way to tell a story, but Sandler’s inexperience shows painfully. What’s really telling is that you can see all of the comedy shticks that would end up making him famous – silly faces, baby voices, stammering – in a totally unrefined way. Yeah, more unrefined than Sandler has ever been.

The jokes are all lame and obvious, and it seems like the script (if there was any) probably never reached a second draft. The worst part is that there is a comedian on the ship who is probably the least funny character. Sandler’s “character” yearns to also become a stand-up comedian, which is only appropriate for this film, since his jokes are also horrendously flat.

There’s another plotline involving General Noriega and two of his cronies who have Arabic names and speak with a sort of Italian accent. They too end up being stand-up comedians at the end, and they are – wait for it – completely unfunny.

The only one who gets any laughs is a “what the hell are you doing here” cameo by Milton Berle, who tells a few old-timey jokes that are exponentially funnier than the garbage that Sandler and co. put forth. Billy Zane, also early in his career, shows up as Poseidon, and might be worthy of the “worst actor” title for this film.

I understand that the film is, as Sandler lets us know early on, a “no budget” film. Someone probably got permission to shoot on a cruise ship with beauty pageant contestants and didn’t want to pass the opportunity up in the name of “quality”. It’s cool, I know what’s up. But even with zero dollars for your budget, you can get a bit more creative than birds crapping in someone’s drink.

If you have the time and are interested in Sandler’s career, go to YouTube, search for this movie, and skip ahead to any point in the film. I promise that within a minute you’ll instantly understand everything I’ve said in this review. It’s irredeemably bad.

Final rating: 0/10

–James A. Janisse

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