Starring: Kurt Russell, Goldie Hawn, Michael Hagerty, Edward Hermann, Katherine Helmond
Rated PG (for Language and Brief Sexuality, I guess)
With "Overboard," giving my opinion is easy: I'm not going to tell you to put it in your Netflix queue, but I'm not going to tell you to take it off either. It's a slight, sunny, inoffensive romantic comedy that's hard to dislike. It's also awkwardly paced, occasionally stupid for the sake of the plot, and suffers from a ridiculously melodramatic ending.
Dean Profitt (Russell) is a blue collar carpenter who has been assigned to come aboard to do an emergency job on a yacht. What he comes to find is that he needs to build a shelf for a bitchy rich girl named Joanna (Hawn). Doing the job is a decision he's going to come to regret because Joanna is an employer from hell, making little effort to prevent him from hearing her talk about him behind his back. When he finishes the job, she flips out because it wasn't made from the right kind of wood. Dean helpfully offers to redo it with the right kind of wood, as long as he gets paid for the extra trouble. But Joanna refuses ("Everyone knows that cabinets are made of cedar!" she snaps) and promptly throws him overboard. Later that night, Joanna takes a tumble overboard herself, and ends up on shore with no memory. Sensing a way to make his money back through labor, and a little revenge, Dean poses as Joanna's husband, calling her "Annie." He and his four kids put her through the paces (read: a living hell) until she gets the swing of things, and Dean starts to fall for her. Of course, there's the secret of her identity that is preventing a real "happy ever after..."
The film's biggest problem is how Joanna/Annie acts when she's first got amnesia. If her memory is wiped clean by her accident (I don't think amnesia works out so simply, but I'll let it slide since this movie never makes any attempt to be serious), would she still be such a bitch? Or would she be more flat and vulnerable? And then her change from harridan to heavenly comes too suddenly. Would it happen because of one action without motivation, or would it be more gradual. I get that with a movie this light and airy, these aren't questions that I'm supposed to ask, but the movie feels like it's taking the easy road by playing dumb.
Still, it's hard to deny the appeal of the two leads, who play well off one another (this was their fourth, and thus far final, time doing so). Real life partners Kurt Russell and Goldie Hawn have translated their off-set chemistry onto the screen, and while it doesn't necessarily burn, they click well enough for the film's purposes. Comic support by Michael Hagerty (who is so similar to John Candy in this role that it's impossible not to think of the big man) and the late Edward Hermann is also effective.
Garry Marshall is known for his lovey-dovey romantic comedies that are tied up happily, even if such an occurrence is highly improbable or illogical ("Pretty Woman" is an example). That's okay, since romantic-comedies are fantasies (well, most of them). But here, the ending is handled in such an over-the-top way that it's eye-rolling rather than crowd-pleasing. It would have worked had he scaled it back just a little bit.