The golden age of the screwball comedy might have been the ’30s, but for one all-too-brief moment in late 1987 it was briefly glimpsed once more. Post-Private Benjamin, pre-Pretty Woman, Goldie Hawn and director Garry Marshall teamed up to make Overboard, a Preston Sturges-style clash-of-the-classes romp set off the coast of, er, Oregon.
And, with Hawn’s beau of four years, Kurt Russell, as the blue-collar foil to her rich-bitch, it had that rarest of things: a real-life couple with as much chemistry on screen as off. (Hawn and Russell have now been together three decades.)
Bored yacht-dwelling socialite Joanna Stayton (Hawn) throws local carpenter Dean Proffitt’s (Russell) tool belt overboard when he fails to construct her fancy cabinets from cedar. He swears revenge and, when Joanna falls overboard herself in search of mislaid jewellery, hits her head and ends up with amnesia, he gets his chance.
Dean sees Joanna on the news and, with her husband denying he knows her, decides to claim the heiress as his wife, setting her to work raising his four unruly children and running his ramshackle home. Will this Park Avenue princess finally find her milieu, as a loving wife and mother? And can Dean prevent himself falling overboard in love with her?
It’s neither as sharp as When Harry Met Sally nor as sexy as Romancing The Stone but Leslie Dixon’s script combines warmth, tangible romance and belly laughs (“A falsetto child?”). Overboard might have the paltry production values of a TV movie but it is, quite simply, the kind of film that makes the world seem like a kinder place. Immerse yourself.
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