Follow TV Tropes


Film / Overboard (1987)

Go To

A 1987 Romantic Comedy film directed by Garry Marshall, starring Kurt Russell and Goldie Hawn.

Joanna (Hawn) is a Rich Bitch living with all the creature comforts on a yacht with her husband Grant. While bored during a stopover for repairs in the small town of Elk Cove, Oregon, Joanna hires a local carpenter, Dean (Russell), to remodel her closet. Despite the closet being exactly what she asked for, she declares it to be sub-par, stiffs him on the bill, and throws him and his tool box overboard.

After leaving port that night, Joanna goes up on deck to retrieve her wedding ring. She falls overboard and washes up near Elk Cove with amnesia. Her husband, although he comes to see her, does not retrieve her, instead taking the yacht for an extended party with younger women. Dean, however, sees Joanna on the news and decides that a little payback is in order: he tells her that her name is Annie and that she is his wife and the mother of his four sons, and plans to have her Work Off the Debt by doing domestic chores.


Unfortunately for him, she has never so much as touched a kitchen or cleaning implement in her life. Hilarity Ensues.

Not to be confused with the newspaper comic strip Overboard. Or the pirate game Overboard!

A Gender Flipped remake starring Anna Faris and Eugenio Derbez was released in 2018.

Overboard provides examples of:

  • Abduction Is Love: Played for laughs, but Dean exploits the amnesia of Joanna/"Annie", unlawfully takes her from the hospital with the intent of using her for manual labor, with her eventually falling in love with him.
  • Accidental Misnaming: "Annie", at first, calls Travis "Roy" repeatedly.
  • All Men Are Perverts: Averted. Dean not only asserts that he would never touch Joanna due to her vile personality (no matter how good she looks), but refuses to sleep with "Annie" until after the two of them truly fall in love. He actually goes the extra mile and does everything he can to put her off sex, such as pouring a shot of cheap booze on his shirt and pretending to be completely wasted.
  • Advertisement:
  • All Women Love Shoes: The film starts with Joanna hiring Dean to make a shoe closet. She describes her current situation as catastrophic. And that's just the shoes she keeps on her yacht.
  • Amnesiac Dissonance: Averted. "Annie" may not have Joanna's memories, but she is still every inch a Rich Bitch.
  • Amnesiac Lover: Played with, while Dean and Annie were never married, she and he do fall in love with each other.
  • Anguished Declaration of Love: Dean and Joanna, when they swim out to one
another in the ocean.
Joanna: Dean, I love you! I'll never leave you again!
Dean: I won't either! You're my "Annie" and you'll always will be!
  • Babies Ever After: At the end, faced with the prospect of him and his sons now in the lap of luxury, Dean asks in lament what he could ever give Joanna that she doesn't already have. Her response: "A little girl."
  • Becoming the Mask: Over time, Dean acts like such a loving husband to his wife "Annie" that his feelings for her start to become real and he also begins to feel guilty.
  • Belligerent Sexual Tension: Dean and Joanna spar constantly at one another. It isn't until after she's lost her memory and he creates a fake life for her do they genuinely fall for one another.
  • Chekhov's Gun: A minor one, but Dean points out that it's a little hard for him to not hear Joanna and Grant talking about him when they're directly above him. Shortly thereafter, the entire ship hears him as he gives Joanna a "The Reason You Suck" Speech.
  • Comically Missing the Point: The principal tells Dean that his boys are completely without supervision, to which Dean misinterprets and remarks how lucky they are.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Joanna has her snarky moments, especially when she acts like a Rich Bitch:
    Joanna: What's my maiden name?
    Dean: Annie... Goolihy.
    Joanna: Annie... Goolihy? Where in God's name did I grow up? Dog Patch?
  • Disappeared Dad: It's never discussed, but we never see heads or tails of Annie's father.
  • Dream Sequence: During "Annie's" first night at Dean's house, water drops hitting piano keys from a leaky roof cause her to dream of being at a New Year's Eve party (with the pianist playing the same tune the water drops make).
  • Fainting: "Annie"'s reaction to learning she's had children.
  • Finding a Bra in Your Car: At one point, Annie finds her own lacy panties in Dean's glove box. They're not only miles above the quality of her current underwear, but also monogrammed with her real initials. She naturally assumes Dean is having an affair.
  • Forgotten Birthday: Played with. Dean is trying to come clean to Annie, but just can't work up the nerve, so he covers by telling her that the important revelation is that he forgot her birthday.
  • Gaslighting: While the film is definitely a "product of its time", and it's clearly played for laughs, what Dean does to Joanna IS gaslighting, convincing her that her reality is something different than it actually it. Were it not for him going out of his way to NOT take advantage of her sexually, it would fall into rape-by-omission territory.
  • Heroic BSoD: "Annie" goes into one just after the first day of trying to do chores. Dean coms home to find her sitting in a chair, completely catatonic, with the kids around her. The boys inform Dean of her day, so Dean decides to prompt a response out of her by asking her what's for dinner. When she replies with "Buh buh buh buh buh..." with no end in sight, Dean picks her up, carries her outside, and tosses her into the water barrel to snap her out of it.
  • Hidden Depths:
    • As it turns out, the youngest brother Joey doesn't know how to read. As opposed to an "Ignorance is Bliss" mindset, he's painfully aware of it and ashamed of his short-coming as well. Thankfully, his new "mother" Annie teaches him to read.
    • Joanna/"Annie" shows a lot of creativity coming up with the miniature golf course theme. She also shows artistic talent by drawing drafts of each hole. She also reveals (to herself and others) she's fluent in French, so she doesn't just lounge around the various places she visits.
  • I Am Who?: Dean initially withholds the information about Annie's real past out of spite, but as he grows closer to her it becomes more out of fear of losing her.
  • Ignored Confession: When Annie finds her own monogrammed panties in the truck and accuses Dean of cheating, he uses the opportunity to confess the whole scheme to her. She completely ignores it, thinking he's just trying to talk his way out of the affair. It helps that his sons have grown to love Annie and refuse to acknowledge the reveal. Dean's best friend then "admits" that the panties belong to a hooker he slept with his Dean's truck. When Dean asks why, the friend says that Annie is the best thing that ever happened to Dean.
  • Intimate Marks: Dean is able to convince the doctors caring for her that he's her husband because he could describe a buttock tattoo he saw when she was wearing a thong bikini.
  • Ironic Echo: At one point, Joey asks Annie if she's ever going to leave (since his real mother passed on three years ago). To this, Annie assures her "son" that it will never happen, since "Moms don't leave". Later, when Annie gets back her memories as Joanna and chooses to go back to her old life, she finds herself stung by Joey's words:
    Joey: You said Moms never leave!!
  • Jerkass:
    • Grant, who possibly crosses over into Magnificent Bastard territory when he abandons his amnesiac wife to a mental hospital so he can run off with the or rather her money and play with young "actresses."
    • Dean, at first, until he starts to like "Annie."
  • Jerkass Has a Point:
    • Joanna and the principal both remark on Dean not supervising his children and raising them essentially without discipline. A Justified Trope, though, as Dean works several jobs to provide a home for them.
    • Dean's rant to Joanna about inventing things to complain about just so she has something to do. Even, to an extent, his scheme to get her to work off easily several hundred dollars in tools and several thousand dollars in carpentry work.
  • Laser-Guided Amnesia: Joanna loses all of her memories, but still retains all her previous skills and attitude.
  • Mama Bear:
    • Annie becomes one to the boys.
    • To an extent, Ms. Minz is this to Joanna. After roughly a month of being told by Grant she's out shopping or unavailable, she's had enough and threatens that he better produce her or she will hunt him down.
  • Meaningful Name: Dean Proffitt.
  • Memory Wipe Exploitation: After Joana falls off her yacht and gets amnesia, single father Dean convinces her that she is the stay-at-home mother of his kids.
  • Missing Mom:
    • Dean's first wife and mother of his boys is only briefly mentioned. Dean informs the principal that she passed on three years ago.
    • When Joanna regains her memories and goes home, she becomes this for the boys, who heartbeakingly cry "You said Moms don't leave!" at her limo as they drive off.
  • Ms. Fanservice: Joanna when she's wearing her revealing swimsuit, though it's subverted by her snobbish attitude. Dean's Male Gaze makes it plot-relevant.
  • Nice to the Waiter: Played for Character Development. Before her accident, Joanna is a spoiled, tempestuous diva to her long-suffering butler and the other staff. After her accident, when she returns to her former life she finds she is able to connect much better with them than her old friends and family, and expresses remorse for her previous cruelty and thoughtlessness to them.
  • Not Distracted by the Sexy: Joanna's string bikini. Though Dean's eyes do linger at one point.
  • Only Sane Man: Billy not only tries to talk Dean out of his scheme, but implores him to come clean later. Zig-Zagged later when he tells an elaborate lie while Dean is trying to tell "Annie" the truth because Dean "belongs with her".
  • Opera Gloves: Only on the movie poster, pictured above.
  • Princess in Rags: The central joke of the film, although Annie isn't really consciously aware of what she's lost. Ultimately subverted when it looks like she chooses her new family over her wealth, but in actuality, the fortune was always hers, not her husband Grant's.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech:
    • Due to being up on deck and the acoustics of the ship, Dean's rant is quite audible to most of the rest of the crew. The servants break out in applause.
      Dean: You know what your problem is? Huh? You're so goddamn bored, you gotta invent things to bitch about. You haven't got a single thing to do except for your hair. Yeah! The closet was fine! You just needed somethin' to take up your useless, empty, nail-polishing, toe-polishing, rich-bitch, sun tanning days!
    • Joanna gets her turn later, when she calls out Dean as a bad father who fails to notice how uncared for and undisciplined his children are. She also calls out the kids' teacher, who thought that they were faking being sick to get out of the test, and somehow missed that they all had massive rashes from poison oak.
  • Rich Bitch: Joanna and her mother. The former gets better, though.
  • Rich in Dollars, Poor in Sense: All of Joanna's family, but especially apparent with Joanna, who has no idea how to prepare food or clean a house. Her time as "Annie" becomes a crash course in that "sense".
  • Second Love: Joanna becomes this for Dean, as Dean has lost his high school sweetheart three years prior and eventually falls for Joanna/"Annie".
  • Sleep Mask:
    • Joanna's mother is wearing one of these when the yacht is turned around in the middle of the night.
    • Annie also uses one of the boys' costume masks as one.
  • Star-Crossed Lovers: The story of Katarina and Arturo, which becomes a Meaningful Echo at the film's climax. Made more meaningful considering it's just another instance of Dean's masterful off-the-cuff bullshit that's defined their relationship.
  • Stealth Pun: When Dean says that he bought "the good stuff" for her birthday, Annie remarks that she's never had anything like it. She thinks it's because the champagne is expensive, but it's really because at "seven dollars a pop" she's never drunk anything so cheap.
  • Stranger in a Familiar Land: After regaining her memory, Joanna realizes she doesn't enjoy the rich life like she used to. She finds her wardrobe tacky, she's unfamiliar with her old smoking habits, and her work ethic feels out of place among her company.
  • Take This Job and Shove It: After preventing Grant from shooting Joanna and Dean during their reunion by dumping him overboard, Andrew promptly quits as his butler. (Then again, who knows if he'll continue on as Joanna's butler.)
    Andrew: I am giving my notice, sir!
  • A Taste of Their Own Medicine: Joanna treated Dean poorly after hiring him to do carpentry work for her, eventually manufacturing an excuse to stiff him on the bill. When Dean sees her amnesia story on the news, he seizes the opportunity to claim her as his wife and put her to work raising his kids (admittedly while he works two jobs) as retribution.
  • Together in Death: The love story of Katerina and Arturo which Dean tells Joanna/"Annie" ends with this between the two lovers.
  • Took a Level in Kindness: Joanna is no less of a bitch after she loses her memories, but in her time as "Annie" she warms up to Dean and his children and she develops empathy that she had never displayed before. Her new outlook stays with her even after she regains her memories.
  • Who Names Their Kid "Dude"?: When an amnesiac Joanna doesn't trust that Dean is her husband, she suspiciously presses him for her maiden name. On the spot, he tells her that her full name is "Annie. ...Goolahy." Naturally, she scoffs at such a surname, wondering if it indicates she was raised in "Dog Patch" or something.


How well does it match the trope?

Example of:


Media sources: