Revisiting ‘Overboard,’ Another ’80s Film That Has Spoiled With The Passage Of Time


Nostalgia is a powerful thing. Some might even call it a beautiful thing, but when it comes to 1980s romcoms, there’s plenty of cringe-worthy self-reflection to be had. That is, after one realizes they were cool with some problematic cinematic happenings that would never fly today. In this spirit, Molly Ringwald recently revisited John Hughes movies through a #MeToo lens that isn’t entirely kind in retrospect. Those, however, were beloved films remembered warmly by those who grew up identifying with at least one member of The Breakfast Club. Yet what of something entirely fluffy and void of coming-of-age redemption, like, say, 1987’s Overboard, which has now received the remake treatment?

Let’s first dispense with the most obvious question, which has been asked a lot already, of relevance: Did the world really need an Overboard remake? No, of course not, but people do recall it somewhat fondly, which is why Lionsgate gambled on Anna Faris starring in the new version in theaters. Tellingly, the film was dropped into the weekend following Avengers: Infinity War, so no one ever expected this movie to be a huge money-maker at the box office, although it might rake in some cash on home video. And Faris, like Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell, possesses enough charisma to justify her onscreen presence most of the time. The original film reaped such benefits despite, well, a revolting plot.

To briefly recap, Russell’s character, Dean — who is upset about being stiffed on a carpentry contract — kidnaps, enslaves, and has sex with an amnesiac, Joanna/Annie, under false pretenses (while saying “every time with you is like the first time”) after convincing her that she is his wife. Not that this sort of thing was out of the ordinary back in the day. After all, the romantic hero of Sixteen Candles fervently pursued panties belonging to the girl of his dreams by trading his unconscious girlfriend to the Geek, so a common theme prevails.


Yet Dean was never jailed, or even accused of illegal behavior, after Annie is finally claimed by her true owner husband. Instead, all misdeeds are spun as a positive because they resulted in Hawn’s character becoming a nicer person, who apologizes for being such a “rich bitch” to her help. And later, the script sees her return to her abductor (and, some shall say, her rapist), who not only gets the girl, but he also ends up rolling in her dough (for life, presumably). Yet she is thrilled to now have a husband for whom she doesn’t have to pretend to be on her “period every week” to avoid sex.

Win, win? Not in 2018.

Lookit — director Garry Marshall’s starring vehicle for Russell and Hawn was never meant to be taken as high art. Likewise, none of the characters possess any redeeming qualities, so it’s hard to expect much (or undertake any lengthy analysis) regarding a thin romantic comedy in which Kurt Russell first appears while wielding a chainsaw as banjo music plays. People enjoyed the movie, and they still do, as a cable rerun on a lazy weekend afternoon, but nobody was out there claiming that the film resonated so deeply within their souls that they’d like to see these characters revisited. Indeed, the film is rather appalling to view through contemporary lenses, and that cannot be ignored.