Going Overboard (1989)

Originally posted on Fun Time Internet on April 3, 2009.

The only redeeming quality of Going Overboard AKA Babes Ahoy is that it bears the distinction of being Adam Sandler’s first starring role. Take that as you will.

The film opens with a shot of Burt Young. Very promising thus far. Having worked with such cinematic legends as Roman Polanski (in Chinatown), Sergio Leone (Once Upon a Time in America) and Sylvester Stallone (all six Rocky movies), the inclusion of Young this early on in the movie suggests a promise of quality filmmaking of the highest order. A promise that’s immediately broken as soon as Young opens his mouth to utter the first spoken words of the film: “Eat me.”

Young’s yet-unnamed character is reading off titles from his stack of porn tapes. Among the pile of such uncreative and un-laugh-inducing porn titles as Blonds Prefer Cucumbers and Rub Me Raw, Young chances upon a tape titled The Unsinkable Schecky Moskowitz.

Sandler is either making a truly disturbing “funny face” or a truly disturbing “o-face”. Either way, we’re destined for viewing of the “once seen, cannot be unseen” variety.

The viewer is led to believe this was the original title of Going Overboard as Young’s character whimsically repeats “The Unsinkable Schecky Moskowitz” at least six or seven times too many while loading the tape of what he expects to be gay porn in his VCR. This title change is more obvious during the “film-within-a-film’s” calypso-heavy opening credits featuring an animated stand-up comic Sandler reading off the credits via comic bubbles. After a comic bubble reading “Starring Adam Sandler as…”, there is a jarring cut to the title “Going Overboard” against a black background, not the brick wall background of animated Sandler’s comedy club. The film then inexplicably cuts back to animated Sandler for the remainder of the opening credits. “Adam Sandler as Going Overboard”?!

So is Going Overboard the name of Sandler’s character, not Schecky Moskowitz? Or is it that Sandler’s character “goes overboard” from a boat at some point in the movie? Do we ever see him in those ridiculous water wings he’s wearing in the poster? The answer to all three questions is ‘No’.

For the record, Adam Sandler’s character is called Schecky Moskowitz, a name so stereotypically Jewish they probably got it from a film produced by Joseph Goebbels. I’m surprised they didn’t go “full Jew” and call him “Kikey Jewsteinwitzman”?

Schecky is a sailor-suit-wearing cruise ship cocktail waiter who dreams of being the ship’s resident standup comedian. But his dreams are dashed when the villainous speedo-donning douchebag Dickie Diamond (Scott LaRose) is hired instead. Schecky’s dreams are also dashed by the fact that his routine is grimace-inducingly unfunny.

Example: “There’s this girl I met, I do everything she asks me to. So I asked her how attractive I was on a scale of 1 to 10. And she said ‘You’re an 8.’ So I pissed on her shoes! Urinate!” Unfortunately there’s a lot more where that came from. A lot more.

Diamond’s equally-unfunny standup act revolves around incest, constant profanity, and giving people the middle finger. Usually in that order. Schecky resents that people actually laugh at Diamond’s histrionics and that scantily clad women flock to him. This does nothing to help Schecky’s fragile self-esteem. I swear he spends over half the movie dwelling on his loneliness and lack of decent stand-up material. I do enough of that in my own life. The other half of Sandler’s screen time is spent winking at the camera, waggling his eyebrows, and flapping his arms like a chicken.

Dickie Diamond’s hackneyed routine torments Schecky even in his dreams. In one particularly vivid dream sequence, Diamond insults Schecky in a mental institution cell while a creepy robotic beauty plays rim shots. This scene features the only almost-laugh of the entire film, “You wearing a straight-jacket? Or in your case, a homo-jacket!” I didn’t say it was funny; it’s just the best of the dreck.

“You’ve got an apple in your mouth. Where’s William Tell when you need him?” Please, please, make the bad jokes stop!

Tom Hodges plays Schecky’s “best pal” Bob, a lip-gloss wearing, “womanizing”, cross-dresser. Bob thinks Diamond’s material is “some really funny shit” and gives Schecky a three-minute rant on how stand-up comedy is “absolutely the most degrading thing a human being can put himself through.” Well, second most degrading after a dream sequence where Bob appears as Schecky’s mother. So terrifying that the actor got two credits just in case we couldn’t tell if it was Tom Hodges or Tyler Perry in white-face.

Bob “motivates” Schecky with a friendly bitch slap.

Schecky frequently breaks the fourth wall à la Zack Morris in “Saved by the Bell” to address the camera on the film’s events. So the film-within-a-film is self-aware, but not in a clever Mel Brooks Blazing Saddles kinda way. More in the lazy first-time screenwriter kinda way. In the first such incident, Schecky enthusiastically warns us that this story is “based entirely around the fact that we had access to this nice big boat here and a lot of… beauty pageant girls. Unbelievably-beautiful, very clean women.” Now that we’ve begun to suspect an outbreak of Chlamydia on the ship, Schecky further warns us “This is a no-budget flick, not a low budget.” He then illustrates this by making the camera shake to “simulate” an earthquake. This is the only time the film uses its “no-budget” for “comedic effect”.

Likewise the movie fails to take full advantage of its boatful of beauty pageant contestants. (Heh, take advantage!) Instead we get montage after yawn-inspiring montage of bikini clad beauties carrying out such exciting PG-rated tasks as sitting, standing, lying down, and, if we’re really, really lucky, walking.

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2 thoughts on “Going Overboard (1989)

  1. Pingback: Terror at Blood Fart Lake (2009) | Lackluster Video

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