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Film / Overboard (1987)

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

Joanna Stayton (Hawn) is a Rich Bitch living with all the creature comforts on a yacht with her husband Grant (Edward Herrmann). 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.
  • Abhorrent Admirer: Dean for the amnesiac Joanna/"Annie" when he arrives to pick her up from the mental hospital claiming to be her husband.
  • Accidental Adultery: "Annie's" romance with Dean is technically adultery, but she doesn't remember that she's married on account of her Easy Amnesia. Contrast that with Grant, whose adultery's definitely not accidental.
  • 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.
  • All Periods Are PMS: Joanna believes she is going through this after her fight with Dean and invoked this as the excuse for her bratty behavior, as well as an excuse not to sleep with Grant when he wants to.
    Grant: Joanna, I want you tonight.
    Joanna: Oh. Not tonight.
    Grant: How can you have your period every week?!
  • 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 still is every inch a Rich Bitch. It takes spending time with Dean and his sons for her to change for the better.
  • 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!
  • Answer Cut: After Joanna receives (fabricated) photos of her and Dean's life together married as "Annie," she finally accepts that this apparently is her life.
    Joanna: I didn't marry very well, did I?
    (cut to Grant dancing badly on the yacht with a bevy of younger women, while Andrew looks on disapprovingly)
  • Armor-Piercing Question: Dean has just told Annie the truth, but she doesn't believe him. He then asks his sons to corroborate, but they refuse. When Annie storms off after he gets mad at them, he asks why they're doing this:
    Joey: We like her, Dad!
    Dean: Oh, you like her, do you? You like her so much, you'd rather live with her than your own father?
    (cue silence from the boys, leaving Dean shocked)
  • 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."
  • Barely-There Swimwear: Joanna wears a swimsuit that barely covers her backside, let alone much else. It's thanks to this that Dean remembers a certain birthmark she has on her buttock for when he goes to retrieve her from the hospital.
  • Bait-and-Switch: When Joanna tries to jump off the yacht at the end, Andrew restrains her and says he can't let her go… without a life jacket.
  • Becoming the Mask: Over time, Dean acts like such a loving husband to his wife "Annie" that his feelings for her start becoming 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.
  • Bratty Food Demand: Joanna complains about the lackluster caviar she eats early in the film. Then later, she calls for some lemonade.
  • 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.
  • Covers Always Lie: Joanna never wears the dress, stockings and gloves she has on the poster.
  • Cut His Heart Out with a Spoon: Joanna's mother shows her Mama Bear side by promising Grant that if he doesn't produce Joanna in one week, she'll "hire a mass of mercenaries to hunt you down and chop off the protruding parts of your body!"
  • 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? Dogpatch?
  • Disappeared Dad: It's never discussed, but we never see heads or tails of Joanna's father.
  • Disposable Fiancé: Grant, in Joanna's case, is a Disposable Husband, once Dean returns for her in the final act.
  • 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).
  • Easy Amnesia: Apparently, the unintentional shock of cold water and some time spent adrift at sea is all it takes to develop amnesia.
  • Eating the Eye Candy: Dean, when Joanna sports a very revealing swimsuit early in the film.
  • Extreme Omnivore: One of the older mental patients eats his checkers.
  • Exact Words: When Dean asks his kids what did they get for Joanna/"Annie" as she has been changing her clothes for an hour. The kids answer, "dresses". Dean asks them if they're the right sizes. The kids answer that Dean never told them about getting the right sizes, only to get some dresses.
  • Faint in Shock: "Annie"'s reaction to learning she's had four 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.
  • Forceful Kiss: Dean takes advantage of the opportunity to plant a big kiss on Joanna/"Annie" while claiming to be her loving husband. Much to Joanna's dismay at the mental hospital.
  • Freudian Slip: Downplayed. When Annie confronts Dean about how they need to set down rules for the boys, the latter is about to go into a spiel about how he and his late wife promised to let their children have more freedom. However, he catches himself before he can so much as say "Before you came along…" This serves to remind the audience that Dean's charade as Annie's husband depends on him keeping his story straight.
  • 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.
  • Gone Horribly Right: Among other chores, Dean brings Annie home to take care of his four sons. Eventually, they come to like her so much they prefer her over him.
  • Graceful Loser: Billy initially dismisses Annie's idea to open a miniature golf course based on foreign landmarks and is uninterested when Dean goes for the idea, only for the investors to greenlight the project largely based on the concept art that Annie had drawn herself. Rather than being jealous or resentful that her idea was chosen and not his (which was to open a miniature golf course based on famous breweries), he not only continues to work with Dean to make it a reality, but becomes more certain that he and Annie belong together, eventually getting the U.S. Coast Guard involved to help reunite them permanently.
  • Groin Attack: Joanna's mother threatens to do this to Grant unless he brings her Joanna.
  • Hate Sink: Joanna's husband Grant Stayton III. At first, he was assumed to be a loving husband towards Joanna, but upon hearing that Joanna has suffered amnesia after falling off their yacht, he purposely abandons her as he is more focused in obtaining Joanna's wealth for himself; even making numerous affairs with younger women in the yacht. After four months, Grant is reluctantly forced by Joanna's mother to bring Joanna back, but only because he intends to remain in their family's good side so that he can still maintain control over their fortune. And when Joanna finally learns that she no longer loves Grant, he spitefully admits to having left her at the hospital and making the affairs on her yacht. Going insane, Grant takes over the helm in an attempt to steer away to the sea so that he can keep Joanna under his thumb, even attempting to strike her down with a bow and arrow when she goes overboard to reunite with Dean.
  • Heroic BSoD: "Annie" goes into one just after the first day of trying to do chores. Dean comes 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.
  • High-Class Gloves: Only on the movie poster, pictured above.
  • 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 don't leave!
  • The Jeeves: Andrew. Though unlike most examples, he's always referred to by his first name rather than his last.
  • Jerkass:
    • Joanna starts out as this, but then she softens up a lot when she has amnesia, and becomes a part of Dean's family.
    • Grant 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.
    • Joanna's mother Mrs. Minz may be just as spoiled and sheltered as her daughter, but there's a certain pearl of wisdom when she tells Joanna "If you have a baby, you won't be the baby anymore." If we're to believe she's talking from experience raising Joanna, she has a point that children don't always leave much time to spoil one's self. Joanna's mishaps with raising the Profitt boys drives the point home.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Jerk: Grant is obviously this, as he is more focused in obtaining Joanna's wealth for himself rather than maintaining his marriage with her: even taking the nerve to deliberately dump her due to her amnesia and take over her yacht so that he can score down with younger women. However, he is forced to end his affairs; only because Joanna's mother threatened to have him hunted down by mercenaries if he doesn't bring her back, as he still intends to maintain control of Joanna's fortune for himself.
  • Laser-Guided Amnesia: Joanna loses all of her memories, but still retains all her previous skills and attitude.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: Grant gets this: he gets pushed overboard into the sea by Andrew for abandoning Joanna for her fortune and other women, and with Dean and Joanna getting back together, it can be implied that Grant is forced to file a divorce which will leave him penniless.
  • 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.
  • Oh, Crap!:
    • Grant, when he sees Joanna is the missing woman with amnesia on the television and that she is no longer on the yacht with him.
    • Joanna, when she says she doesn't care if the children go to school and Dean tells her that they'll just have to stay home with her the rest of the day. Prompting her to wake up.
  • 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."
    • Andrew is a better example.
  • Pet the Dog: Ms. Minz, Joanna's mother, may be an elitist snob, but she loves her daughter and gets increasingly worried about her after they fall out of contact. She even threatens to hunt her husband Grant down unless he can prove Joanna's alright.
  • Playing Sick: Joanna fakes being sick with being premenstrual just to avoid spending the night with Grant.
    • The schoolteacher accuses Dean and Joanna/Annie's sons of playing sick to avoid taking a test. Only for Joanna to discover that the boys aren't faking it and that they really are sick from poison oak.
  • Phony Veteran: Annie, although unintentionally. Dean misleads her into believing that they first met while she was serving in the US Navy, and (completely winging it) randomly claims that she previously was stationed in Okinawa and – later – in Paris.
  • 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.
  • Reckless Gun Usage: When Grant does some skeet shooting at the beginning, he appears to fire multiple rifle rounds directly towards a bridge in the background while traffic is crossing. It makes sense considering he's an Upper-Class Twit.
  • 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 herself, who has no idea how to prepare food or clean a house. Her time as "Annie" becomes a crash course in that "sense."
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here:
    • Grant Stayton sees that Joanna is now amnesiac and in a hospital. He goes to retrieve his wife, only to learn that she may have lost her memory but not her attitude. So he fakes ignorance and abandons her.
    • Joanna, later on, when she regains her memory and leaves Dean when she learns of his deceit.
    • Again later, when Joanna realizes she still loves Dean and attempts to leave Grant to be with Dean.
  • Second Love: Joanna becomes this for Dean, as Dean has lost his high school sweetheart three years prior and eventually falls for Joanna/"Annie."
  • Servile Snarker: Andrew.
  • Shirtless Scene: Dean is frequently shirtless during the movie, including one scene when he is repairing Joanna’s closet, and a few more times when at home. He also wears a sleeveless tank top which exposes his nipples at times, and grabs the middle of it which exposes his chest *and nearly give the game away to “Annie” when he absentmindedly does it in front of her,
  • 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.
  • Teen Pregnancy: It's implied Dean and his late wife got married and started their family when they were teenagers.
  • 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.
  • Ungrateful Bastard: After Dean spent two days remodeling Joanna's closet with a shoe rack and drawers, Joanna refuses to pay him for his hard work because the wood used for the closet remodeling is made of oak instead of cedar. She also claims that his job wasn't done to her satisfaction, which Dean calls her out on.
  • We Want Our Jerk Back!: Ms. Minz and Grant notice Joanna's change in humility even after her memories are restored and hire a therapist. The procedure fails because the Cloud Cuckoo Lander therapist fails to see anything wrong with Joanna's kind manners that her family consider beneath her class.
  • Wham Line: Joanna/"Annie" greeting Grant when he shows up at the Profitt residence to take her home: "Hi, Grant! I just got to put these in some water… (Goes inside, comes back out) I know you, you're Grant Stayton the third."
  • 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… Goolihy." Naturally, she scoffs at such a surname, wondering if it indicates she was raised in "Dogpatch" or something.