'Overboard': A Gender-Flipped Remake Stays Afloat

Anna Faris and Eugenio Derbez star in Overboard, a remake of the 1987 film with the same name.

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At first glance, the remake of Overboard sounds like the product of a wayward pitch meeting.

Given Anna Faris’ status as Goldie Hawn’s heir apparent — a modern-day Lucille Ball with an up-for-anything mania and a gift for the low arts of slapstick and pulling faces — it would make sense to cast her in a spruced-up version of Hawn’s popular 1987 fish-out-of-water comedy. Yet that film’s gender dynamics of the original film might seem, say, a little old-fashioned 30 years later, with Kurt Russell’s widowed carpenter essentially forcing Hawn’s snooty amnesiac into domestic servitude. So the solution wasn’t to scrap the project altogether, but to swap gender roles, which means casting Faris in Russell’s part and forgetting about the Faris/Hawn syncopation altogether.

And yet out of these conceptual lemons, the new Overboard makes an improbably decent batch of lemonade, albeit one with an extra scoop of sugar. Where the original played like a cross between vintage screwball and the sexual politics of Lina Wertmüller’s 1974 arthouse provocation Swept Away, this version has been framed as a telenovela, which cleverly accommodates the twists and turns of the plot and its underlying romantic spirit. Though sprinkled with laughs here and there, it’s not a particularly funny film, but it’s big-hearted and sincere, with fine chemistry between the two leads and a family-first message that’s delivered with unexpected conviction.

It’s also a formidable English-language star vehicle for Eugenio Derbez, the multi-talented Mexican entertainer who’s been trying to extend his popularity in Latin America to the states. Derbez has already scored two under-the-radar hits with 2013’s Instructions Not Included (which he directed) and 2016’s How to Be a Latin Lover, and his preening self-regard contrasts nicely with Faris’ working-class flibbertigibbet. Though their roles have technically been reversed, there’s more than a touch of Russell’s swagger to Derbez’s performance and Faris can’t help but channel Hawn’s giddy, punchy charm.

As with the 1987 Overboard, though, it has to work through an exceedingly labored set-up to get to the good stuff. As the prince-like heir to a supply-company fortune, Leonardo (Derbez) spends his days as a spoiled playboy who lives on his yacht and abuses the staff that attends to his every need. When Kate (Faris), a single mother of three, gets hired to clean up after one of his bedroom fracases, she has the temerity to push back against his insults and he responds by kicking her off the ship, along with $3,000 in company equipment. Despite having a second job at a pizzeria, Kate faces eviction from her home and the dimming prospect of passing a nursing exam later that month. So when Leonardo falls overboard during a storm and gets washed to shore with no memory of who he is, Kate’s friend (Eva Longoria) hatches a scheme on her behalf: Pretend that Leonardo is really her husband and the father of their three girls, and make him work off all the money he owes her.

In true telenovela style, there’s a host of colorful subplots: Leonardo’s diabolical sister pretends he was eaten by sharks to seize control of the company, Kate’s 72-year-old mother (Swoosie Kurtz) abandons her babysitting duties to appear in a retirement-home production of The Mikado, and the entire community unites to play their small role in this grand deception. Leonardo doesn’t take to construction work and household chores well at first, but he starts to find his groove as Joe Lunchpail and Mr. Mom, and Kate and her girls come around to him in kind.

Overboard picks an abundance of low-hanging comic fruit, like Leonardo haplessly rolling a wheelbarrow up an incline or slipping on a floor full of spaghetti. But the film improves once it stops being about humbling the rich guy and starts being about the common graces of everyday life, which may be an assortment of clichés (home-cooked meals, Sunday football on the couch, family bike rides around the neighborhood), but are invested here with real feeling. It’s a reminder that the appeal of the first film, too, wasn’t in seeing a rich snob get her comeuppance, but in her realizing that there’s wealth without money.

Another compelling aspect of this Overboard is that as the class differences between Leonardo and Kate are leveled out, the cultures they represent also meet on equal footing. The film has true crossover appeal, with nearly as much dialogue in Spanish as in English, and a pointed attempt on the part of Kate and her eldest daughter to learn a second language. Love over money may be its most obvious value, but Overboard goes about defining this American family as a melting pot in microcosm, quietly pushing back against the tribalist politics of the day.

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British Health Services Failed To Send Mammogram Notices And Some Women May Have Died

Britain’s Health and Social Care Secretary Jeremy Hunt arrives at 10 Downing Street in central London on March 13.

Daniel Leal-Olivas/AFP/Getty Images

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Daniel Leal-Olivas/AFP/Getty Images

A “computer algorithm failure” in the U.K. kept hundreds of thousands of women from getting notified it was time for a mammogram, potentially shortening the lives of up to 270 women, the National Health Service says.

The U.K. sends letters to women who are due for breast screening, according to British national guidelines, which call for exams every 3 years for women age 50-70. Because of the computer glitch, an estimated 450,000 women in England around the age of 70 did not receive their mammogram invitation.

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt announced the “serious failure” on Wednesday, apologizing to the women affected.

My thoughts today with the thousands of women and families affected by failures in our breast cancer screening programme. We will get to the bottom of this so we can stop it happening again.

— Jeremy Hunt (@Jeremy_Hunt) May 2, 2018

“At this stage it is unclear whether any delay in diagnosis will have resulted in any avoidable harm or death,” Hunt said.

An independent review will work to answer that question, but in the meantime, preliminary statistical models show that as many as 270 women may have “had their lives shortened as a result” because of the glitch, Hunt said.

David Spiegelhalter, a British statistician, notes that Hunt’s announcement could be misinterpreted to mean hundreds of women died because of missed mammograms. But the total number likely includes women who have not yet died.

None of that takes away from the fact that the government made a painful mistake, Spiegelhalter said.

“There is no doubting that Jeremy Hunt needed to make a strong apology,” he wrote.

The government says new screening notifications will be sent English women 70-72 who missed their notifications. For older women, for whom the benefit of such screenings is less clear, optional screenings will be available.

The Times reports that the NHS and Public Health England, which administers the screening problem, are pointing fingers at each other, with each group suggesting the other body is to blame for the glitch.

Meanwhile, the Royal College of General Practitioners says “the priority should not be to establish blame” but rather to address the demand for mammograms and prevent such a problem in the future.

In the United States, which does not have a universal health care system like the U.K., there is no equivalent centralized process for notifying women they are due to have a mammogram.

Otis Brawley, the chief medical officer of the American Cancer Society, tells NPR that some HMOs and mammogram facilities will send out reminders, but it’s not typical.

“The overwhelming majority of women in the United States, it’s expected they or their physician will remember when it’s time to get a mammogram,” Brawley says.

And the need for screenings in older women, like those affected by the U.K. debacle, is not widely discussed, Brawley says — even though 50 percent of breast cancers are diagnosed in women age 67 or above.

However, as a woman gets older, a breast cancer detected by a mammogram is also less likely to end her life, Brawley notes. Meanwhile, unneeded treatment of such cancers could have serious side effects, as NPR’s Rob Stein reported last year.

That’s why the U.K. stops testing women in their 70s, and why the ACS doesn’t recommend mammograms for women with a life expectancy of 10 years or less.

Brawley also emphasizes that many women diagnosed with cancer find the cancer themselves, and encouraged all women to be aware of any changes in their breasts.

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Liz Phair On Demanding A Voice In 25 Years Of 'Guyville'

Liz Phair’s Exile In Guyville is being reissued with a massive 25th anniversary box set. It features seven LPs, the official release of the Girly-Sound tapes and a book detailing the album’s history.

Liz Phair’s massive Exile In Guyville reissue comes out May 4.

Elizabeth Weinberg/Courtesy of the artist

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Elizabeth Weinberg/Courtesy of the artist

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More Employers Avoid Legal Minefield By Not Asking About Pay History

Asking questions about prior salary can be used by employers to discriminate against women and minorities who earn less, critics say.

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Neil Webb/Getty Images/Ikon Images

How much did you make in your previous job?

This dreaded interview question can sound like a trap. Your answer could be used to set your salary below someone else who is doing the same job.

And, critics say, the question can be used by employers to discriminate against women and minorities who earn less.

Employers are allowed to ask this salary question in most parts of the country. But, hoping to narrow racial and gender pay gaps, seven states and several cities and counties have banned employers from asking about prior pay.

Making matters more complex, courts have issued varying interpretations of what’s legal.

This week, for example, a federal district court struck down a Philadelphia law banning questions about prior pay, saying it impinged on free speech. But last month, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of Aileen Rizo, who sued her employer for paying her less than her male colleague because of her previous salary. (Still other circuits have ruled in different ways, allowing employers to ask the question.)

Some companies aren’t waiting for the legal questions to settle: Amazon, Wells Fargo, American Express, Cisco, Google and Bank of America all recently changed hiring policies to eliminate questions about pay history.

Part of the appeal is ease and uniformity, says Tom McMullen, a partner at executive advisory firm Korn Ferry. Last year, a survey by his firm found 46 percent of employers said they would adopt policies to comply with the strictest laws in their region.

“We’re seeing a tipping point with more and more of these states and cities coming on board with the ban … ” McMullen says.

He argues the question isn’t necessary; an employer can always ask what a candidate expects to earn, for example. In fact companies eliminating the question can adapt by improving their internal processes and doing more research before making an offer, he says.

That is exactly what has happened at CareHere, a Nashville-based health care provider with 1,000 employees.

Jeremy Tolley, CareHere’s chief people officer, says he hated probing someone’s salary history, because it always felt intrusive and awkward. Ten months ago, the company eliminated that question in response to some of the regulatory changes. Now it sets salary ranges for each job, then shares that information with candidates up front.

“Our recruiters say that it’s easier now because we’re showing our hand to the candidate,” Tolley says. “We’re telling them what our pay range is, right out of the gate. And it’s really improved candidate relations, that’s for sure.”

He says there is another benefit: A bigger, more diverse pool of candidates. For example, job candidates aren’t automatically turned down just because they earn more than the salary range.

“They’re interested in the company’s culture and they’re more interested in flexibility and remote work — all of those things factor in and not just straight compensation,” Tolley says. “So when you eliminate someone just based on simply what they expect to make then you could be eliminating a candidate without good reason.”

Tracey Diamond, a Philadelphia employment attorney, says many of her clients are taking prior pay questions out of their hiring process. But some are sticking to the practice, even as the law changes around them.

“It was important for them to know their applicant salary history coming in,” Diamond says. So those employers have taken the position that until it’s illegal in their jurisdiction, they will continue using it as a tool in assessing their candidates, she says.

It’s a risky policy, she says, and one that may have to change soon.

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House Chaplain Rescinds Resignation In Heated Letter to Speaker Ryan

Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, R-Wis.

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An ongoing Capitol drama over the fate of the House chaplain escalated on Thursday, with Rev. Patrick Conroy rescinding his resignation in a sharply worded letter to House Speaker Paul Ryan.

In the letter, Conroy, a Jesuit priest, suggests bias against his Catholic faith, alleging that Jonathan Burks, Ryan’s chief of staff, said, “Maybe it’s time we had a chaplain that wasn’t a Catholic” during an April 13 private meeting in which Burks informed Conroy that the speaker was seeking his resignation.

Ryan is a Catholic, and his office has denied allegations of bigotry in his decision to force Conroy out of the job he has served in since 2011. The House chaplain is reappointed at the start of every two-year congressional session.

The speaker’s office did not immediately respond to NPR’s request for comment.

Earlier this week, Ryan discussed his decision to fire Conroy at a conservative summit hosted by The Weekly Standard. He has criticized Conroy’s ministry without offering any detailed explanation.

“Father Conroy is a good man, and I’m grateful for his many years of service to the House,” Ryan said, “This was not about politics or prayers, it was about pastoral services. And a number of our members felt like the pastoral services were not being adequately served, or offered.”

Conroy decided to rescind his resignation “upon advice of counsel” because he questioned whether Ryan has the authority to fire him without cause, and he pushed back at the allegation that his ministry to the Capitol Hill community was lacking.

“In fact, no such criticism has ever been leveled against me during my tenure as House Chaplain. At the very least, if it were, I could have attempted to correct such ‘faults.’ In retracting my resignation I wish to do just that,” Conroy wrote.

House Democrats seized on the firing last week and attempted to force an investigation into Conroy’s ousting, but their procedural gambit was defeated on the House floor. Some Catholic Republicans, including Reps. Peter King of New York and Walter B. Jones of North Carolina, have joined with Democrats to raise questions about the speaker’s decision to force out Conroy.

One conservative Republican, North Carolina Rep. Mark Walker, a former pastor, fueled speculation of anti-Catholic sentiment from the GOP’s southern evangelicals when he told reporters the next chaplain should be “somebody who has a little age, that has adult children, that kind of can connect with the bulk of the body here, Republicans or Democrats as far as what we’re going through back home — you’ve got the wife, the family, things you encounter — that has some counseling experience or has managed or worked with people, maybe a larger church size, being able to have that understanding or that experience.”

Walker walked backed those comments, but withdrew himself from the selection committee to find a new chaplain over the weekend.

The House chaplain is a constitutional officer of the U.S. House, a group of officials that includes the House clerk, the sergeant-at-arms, and the doorkeeper for the chamber. They all earn $172,500 annually and enjoy many of the privileges awarded to current and former lawmakers, including pensions and access to the chamber floor.

In his letter, Conroy asserts that he he had no choice but to quit when asked for his resignation in April, but that he now believes he can’t be fired as a House officer unless it is for cause — a move provoking a possible showdown with the speaker.

Conroy says he intends to serve out the remainder of his term through this Congress, and asked the speaker to recognize his letter no later than May 12. Congress is on recess this week, but returns Monday.

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Students Held Another School Walkout, This Time For Gun Rights

High school students in Columbia Falls, Mont., walked out of class to show their support of the Second Amendment on Wednesday.

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Nicky Ouellet /MTPR

More students walked out of their high schools on Wednesday, but this time they were walking out to support the right to bear arms.

“Stand for the Second” was organized by Will Riley, an 18-year-old high school senior from New Mexico. “It all starts [with] myself and a few of my friends in my living room, making calls,” he told NPR.

The walkout comes on the heels of several larger, nationwide demonstrations that saw hundreds of thousands of students and other protesters call for gun control.

Riley said he decided to act after the March For Our Lives rally, on March 25, in which survivors of the school shooting in Parkland Fla., led students across the U.S. to call for tougher gun legislation.

He said he felt his generation was being portrayed as a unified front. “But we are not unified on this — there are two sides to every story.”

In a fiery op-ed in The Washington Examiner, Riley wrote, “I am disgusted by how these students and their adult handlers are trying to define my generation.”

He said, “These Parkland high school students do not speak for my generation,” adding that there is “a battle for the very heart and soul of our country.”

Wednesday’s walkout was scheduled to take place at 10 a.m.and last for 16 minutes — one minute fewer than another walkout, on March 14, that honored the 17 people who died in the Parkland school shooting.

Riley said that more than 500 schools in nearly every U.S. state participated in the walkout. In his hometown of Carlsbad, N.M., he said that between 500 and 600 students took part. NPR could not verify these numbers, however.

In northern Montana, about 100 students left their classrooms in Columbia Falls High School to stand outside on a grassy area near the gym, Montana Public Radio reported. They were mostly boys holding banners supporting President Trump, the Second Amendment and the U.S. flag.

“Students like ourselves recognize the attacks on our rights and our future,” said Braxton Shewalter, who led that walkout. “We also know that our silence won’t cut it anymore, and we won’t be silenced in the national debate.”

In Michigan, between 50 and 100 students gathered outside Grand Ledge High School, according to member station WKAR. A senior named Zach Bell, standing by a military honor guard, asked fellow classmates to remember the work of police officers and soldiers.

“In some of my classes, I took a lot of flak for wanting to do this,” the 18-year-old told WKAR. “But having all these students out here supporting me is really big to me, because it’s a lot more than I had previously expected.”

Photos and videos of other students were posted on Twitter.

Today brave students all over our great nation walked out of class in support of our Second Amendment and our Great President #StandSecondpic.twitter.com/CvDy4mlyM4

— Jacob Wohl (@JacobAWohl) May 3, 2018

Across America, students are standing up for the #SecondAmendment today! #StandForTheSecond#TeaParty#2apic.twitter.com/SaZaq7PcIR

— Jenny Beth Martin (@jennybethm) May 2, 2018

A day after the walkout, Riley said he’s thinking about what comes next. Stand for the Second, he said, is “basically just myself and a few of my friends, like four of us who are really organizing. … We are all volunteers.”

But the effort did receive some support. The National Rifle Association provided them with some media contacts and recommended that they issue a press release to contacts in New Mexico, Riley said.

The Tea Party Patriots also got involved. The conservative group published a sign-up sheet for students to attend or organize a walkout and hosted a map of participating schools and sent stickers with ‘Stand for the Second’ on them. “They helped me write up an organizer guide to help people really make sure it stays civil, make it a peaceful protest and help [students] organize at their schools,” Riley said.

“We’re not done for standing up for constitutional rights.”

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In 'Tully,' Charlize Theron And Mackenzie Davis Make A Great (Au) Pair

A night nanny (Mackenzie Davis) and a harried mother (Charlize Theron) develop an unusual relationship in Tully.

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Kimberly French/Focus Features

When it comes to undercutting her glam loveliness for the sake of a meaty role, Charlize Theron is the champ of champs. Meaty‘s the word: Having packed on the pounds and several tons of vicious attitude to play serial killer Aileen Wuornos in 2003’s Monster and shed a (virtual) limb or two for 2015’s Mad Max: Fury Road, Theron comes to us in Jason Reitman’s Tully lugging a baby bump so massive, you can barely see her bringing up the fleshy rear.

Lest we doubt her commitment to looking like most women do shortly after giving birth, there’s a candid tracking shot from behind of her character — third-time mom Marlo — trying to outrun a lissome young athlete in the park. Like the rest of this maddeningly uneven movie, the scene is a little bit funny, a bigger bit cruel, and with it all, oddly moving.

Luckily, with Theron it’s never just about the prosthetics or the visual gags. For her Marlo, it’s all in the eyes, bleary with fatigue and the stress that comes with being the mother of two small children (one of them with special needs, though Marlo’s too exhausted to see anything but the special) and trying to cope with the third, who seems never to stop crying.

On schedule, up pops the obligatory set piece where Marlo throws a fit in a school principal’s office. Yet Theron plays even this scenario with the slow deliberation of a woman quietly nearing the end of her rope. Marlo’s steady but preoccupied husband (Ron Livingston) isn’t much help, and though at first she resists when her smug, well-heeled brother (Mark Duplass) presents her with a night nanny, she succumbs when the baby’s arrival finally grinds her to a spaced-out standstill.

Enter Tully (a very good Mackenzie Davis), a slightly manic yet unflappable pixie girl who also happens to be the fulfillment of every overwhelmed parent’s compensatory dreams. Without turning a hair Tully cooks, cleans, gets baby to breastfeed, bakes fluorescent cupcakes for the kids’ entire class. Over time she also becomes Marlo’s confidante; the two become besties; the new mother blooms; the household grows a sly touch of eros. Until, suddenly, there comes a mischievous twist that steers this most realist of dramedies clear into fresh genre waters. And if, like me, you didn’t see the denouement coming, you may say to yourself why, of course.

Tully is written by Diablo Cody, who also wrote the screenplays for Reitman’s smash hit Juno and for his bracing Young Adult, in which Theron starred as a pushing-forty narcissist belatedly trying to get her love-life on track. Cody and Reitman make a marketable team, smoothly packaging topicality in a skin of buoyant mischief that manages to straddle the glib and the true. At her most complacent, Cody can be a master of the breezy put-down, and here she gets off a few volleys of cheap shots at the expense of bougie-hipster parents — not like us, no, never — who worry about trace elements of caffeine in their decaf, and whose nannies have graduate degrees in early childhood development.

Does it matter that Cody, who wrote Tully after hiring a night nanny to look after her third baby, and Theron, who has two adopted children of her own, can both afford all the help they need? In the sense that Marlo, who both wants and needs to get back to her job in human resources, is portrayed as a 99-percenter with 1-percenter problems, it’s likely that for most moviegoers, Tully will end up as a wishful fantasy on more levels than one.

What saves the movie from unbearable smugness is the lovely duet of Theron and Davis playing their deepening partnership without either posturing or a disclaiming wink at the audience. So much so that we can believe in Tully, a mere stripling with troubles of her own, serenely guiding a woman many years her senior through the black comedy and the sludge of early motherhood, through her dreams of regressive escape, and on into the grownup zone.

If Juno was about the ramifications of getting pregnant way too young, Tully worries that middle age isn’t much of a help when you’re trying to juggle multiple tasks and roles within a raging-hormonal body you barely recognize. If Young Adult insisted that an overgrown child stuck in eternal arrested development doesn’t deserve an upbeat ending, Tully serenely suggests that fulfillment is about the repetition of dreary routine made bearable by the love of others, and the love you bear for them. Tully may be rounding out a trilogy, but I suspect that Reitman and Cody are re-upping as we speak for What to Expect When You’re Re-Feathering the Empty Nest.

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