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New Review: Man Overboard

August 10, 2009

10-CJ

In Man Overboard, C.J. finds that keeping up with the Joneses can mean more than you bargain for when new salesman Johnny comes into the picture.

C.J. Mason runs Mason Marine, a fledgling used boat shop. He is a good guy and hard working and also loves his family. He is the kind of guy you hope to know. But, being nice has its disadvantages. He works double time to keep afloat because his three salesmen, Steve, Frank, and Kyle, are lazy. Steve loves to brown-nose C.J., but has no finesse with the customers. Frank wants an easy job so he can spend time at home with this family. Kyle is just selling boats until his rock band gets their big break.

The three salesman are at center of much of the lighthearted comedy in the film and Frank especially stands out. Played by Floyd Van Buskirk, Frank is perhaps the most realistic of characters, a laid back former hippie that isn’t going to push anyone to sell while being honest to a fault. What is second nature to him later gets him in trouble with new salesman Johnny who worms his way into C.J.’s good graces by quickly selling more than all three of the old salesmen.

Frank is the first victim of Johnny’s sociopathic nature when he tasers him to motivate him to sell more. But then Steve also comes under Frank’s gun and both feel pushed into a corner to sell hard.

What makes Frank such a good character is just how real he is. His first reaction to being pushed is to try to quit, a smart move based on what happens later with Johnny. But fear motivates both salesmen to work hard after Johnny finds ways to blackmail both of them.

C.J. meanwhile likes the results and doesn’t want to hear Frank or Steve’s complaints about Johnny. He has tied himself up with the possibility of a new house in order to keep his father-in-law from thinking less of him.

But he is working so hard that he is completely disconnected from his family. In one of the few laugh out loud moments in the film (most of the comedy is more of a wry, dark type), his wife attempts to get him off the phone byturning his salespitch terms into a more naughty variety.

When he finally hangs up, instead of falling into his arms, she tells him:

“I just got a long four stroke oil injection and you want to give me that?”

Played by Brooke Baumer, C.J.’s wife, Madeline, earnestly brings a fresh style to the role that could have been easily cast aside. “Wife of main character who is unhappy” has been played into the ground but she brings life to the role.

The film continues to escalate with new complications that end up tying all together in the end. Like a western, the film ends with a final showdown, salesman to salesman on a blow out sale. Winner takes all.

The sale is essentially good versus evil, with C.J. using family and friends to help him make a honest sale and Johnny using every dirty trick he can.

In the end, C.J. doesn’t win big but he figures out that working hard may help him to have a modest living, but finding a way to balance with family is more important than a big house. It is a lesson that we could all use a reminder on from time to time.

The DVD of Man Overboard is now on sale. A rental release is planned for sometime soon. The film is directed by Oliver Robins (Robbie from Poltergeist and Poltergeist II).

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