1987 Movie Review: OVERBOARD, 1987

Movie Reviews

Directed by Garry Marshall

Starring Goldie Hawn, Kurt Russell, Edward Herrmann, Katherine Helmond, Roddy McDowall

Review by Russell Hill


Rich bitch Joanna hires country carpenter Dean to build a closet on her yacht. When the two don’t see eye-to-eye, Dean is left unpaid while Joanna sets sail. The following day, Joanna is fished out of the sea, after falling overboard, suffering from amnesia. Dean sees a neat way to regain the money she owes him… he tells her she’s his wife; that way Dean gets a free housekeeper and mother for his four kids.


First and foremost, I am not a huge fan of chick flicks. Heck I would even go as far to say that I despise the vast majority of these films. “Bridget Jones Diary” can stay far away from me but, over the years, I have come to like the odd film which is normally targeted at this market. I didn’t even know “Notting Hill” was one of these films, and thought “While You Were Sleeping” was a classic. “Overboard” was perhaps the first film I saw which could be seen as a chick flick that I actually enjoyed, with the reasons for this being numerous and heart felt.

Joanna Stayton (Hawn) is your typical yuppie who treats those who earn less than $1 million as muck. Stuck where to put her 2,000 or so pairs of shoes on her luxury cruise liner that she owns with husband Grant (Edward Hermann) she hires a handyman called Dean Proffitt (Russell) to build her a wardrobe. However, being the nasty person she is, Joanna takes a disliking to Dean and his uncouth manners and decides to push him off the boat and, literally, into the water.

Angry at what has just happened, Dean switches on the television at a local bar the next day to learn that during the night Joanna had been found off the coast by lifeguards with no Grant in sight and her memory gone. Dean sees an opportunity to get back the money he is owed by turning up by Joanna’s bedside and pretending to be her husband and saying that Joanna is not her real name, but is in fact Annie. The authorities fall for this as does Joanna, and is taken back to Dean’s ramshackle house in the country where she is tricked into looking after him and “their” four children who are about as clean as the house itself. Will Joanna ever leave? Or will she regain her memory and return to the life she once had?

On a personal level, this was the film which first exposed me to the music of Elvis Presley as one of the best scenes of the movie uses “Can’t Help Falling In Love”. But other than that, this movie does well on two points.

First, it makes you laugh. The genuine warmth between Hawn and Russell is touching and a relationship you can believe in. The interaction between the two is moving, and is blindingly obvious to see why they have been together in real life for so long. Hawn has always been a much underrated comic actress. Her leading role in the 1980 movie “Private Benjamin” was great, and her portrayal of spoiled Joanna was genius casting. Her naïve transformation from rags to riches is very amusing indeed, and it shows what an improvement she does with the dilapidated house she is forced to inherit along with the four children who, at first, look as though they had been taken from Dickensian London.

Russell too does very well here. His shabby appearance at first makes him seem like a cruel and unkind character, but over the course of the movie that appearance is changed permanently when he discovers what a wonderful person Joanna/Annie is when you take away the pearls and diamonds. I always find Russell’s acting career to be a bit of an oddity. Is he cast in a movie simply because the women can then drool over him? Or, is he to be taken as a serious actor? Here, in the role of Dean, he seems to act in the middle of these as he does show an Adonis body shot or two but also demonstrates what a fine actor he really is.

I admit that not many heterosexual men will appreciate this movie due to its romantic inklings, but if you take this element away you have a great movie full of humour and excellent acting by all involved.

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OVERBOARD, 1987.jpg

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