Let me introduce you to the cutthroat world of used-boat sales. In Man Overboard we meet CJ Mason (Matthew Kaminsky) who owns Mason Marine, a small lot where he helps people find and sell boats for a reasonable price. Working with CJ are Frank (Floyd Van Buskirk), a laid-back fan of the Grateful Dead; Steve (Jeffry E. Stein) a compulsive liar; and Kyle (Graham Norris), a kid with a dream of touring with his own band. Good guys, but they don't sell a ton of boats. CJ has a great family too – wife Madeline (Brooke Baumer) and two great boys. And he wants the best for his family, but is struggling a bit.
When CJ meets Johnny (Mel Fair), a slick salesman who wants to sell him the mansion across the street. Johnny weasels his way into selling boats for CJ and suddenly the boat business is booming. But CJ is blind to the underhanded tactics Johnny is using to sell boats and manipulate not only the customers but his fellow employees.
Man Overboard boils down to a solid story of a man who wants more than he has, but never really appreciates what he has already until it's almost gone. Johnny is a master of closing the deal and the epitome of the greasy used-car salesman everywhere. If the film was set in the frozen north, I'm sure he would have been selling automatic ice makers to people living in igloos. You definitely root for CJ and his family against Johnny's selfish, manipulative nature.
For me, the movie ends stronger than it begins. Clocking in at 90 minutes, the film was slow going for the first half. But once CJ gets a taste of the dream by being able to buy a big house for his family and things start to fall apart around him, I started to enjoy the story a bit more. CJ, his family, and friends band together to save Mason Marine and clean up the mess that Johnny had helped create.
CJ is the classic "nice guy" character and Johnny was a real turkey to take advantage of him like he had everywhere else he'd worked. The characters are there to support the story, but it's pretty weak until CJ sees through Johnny's manipulation and starts to stand up for himself. I did find myself cheering for the underdog CJ once he saw Johnny's true nature. But up to that point, it was a struggle.
The relationship between Kaminsky and Baumer as husband and wife is what kept the movie real and it's very easy to dislike Fair's Johnny character. The other characters of Frank, Steve, and Kyle provide some additional depth to the movie as well, but it was CJ and his wife who provided the core of the film.
Man Overboard was written by Nathan Ives and Ashley Scott Meyers, directed by Oliver Robins, and produced by Mark Heidelberger and Jesse Felsot. The movie was shot in 2008 and has a very small budget of only $250,000.
Considering the budget, I was impressed by the look and feel of the film. Shot mostly outdoors, with a few exceptions, the lighting and color were very natural, which made it feel much more like a big-budget film. The music on the other hand didn't do much for me, instead relying on occasional synthesizer riffs. For me, a good soundtrack can really enhance a low budget movie (see my recent review of The Showdown), and in this case it didn't help the movie's cause any.
There were no extras on the DVD, which is understandable considering the tiny budget of the production. But the quality of the movie on the DVD was excellent with no noticeable degradation in the picture on screen.
Overall, for the budget, I think Man Overboard is a decent movie. If you want a movie on how to do the hard sell or like low-budget indies, I'd definitely check out Man Overboard when it comes out on DVD in August 2009. If you're interested in additional details or to pre-order the movie, check out the Man Overboard homepage.