When Goldie Hawn’s movie career was at its peak, she produced a series of interesting movies and not all of them relying on her bubble-headed comic persona which she had ridden to so much fame (and a Supporting Actress Oscar) in previous years. Among her more interesting roles during this period were Protocol, Swing Shift, and in the film under scrutiny here: Garry Marshall’s Overboard. In fact, her work in this fairly typical Marshall slapstick comedy-with-heart might rank among her very best-ever performances. In many ways, the film around her doesn’t always live up to the performance she’s giving, but one leaves the film ever more convinced that her talents as an accomplished actress have never been fully exploited. Overboard offers many opportunities for her to play emotions that previous films didn’t.
Directed by Garry Marshall
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 1080p AVC codec
Running Time: 112 minutes
Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 English; Dolby Digital 2.0 Spanish, French
Subtitles: SDH, Spanish, French
MSRP: $ 16.99
Release Date: July 6, 2011
Review Date: July 27, 2011
Spoiled, overly demanding, and fabulously wealthy Joanna Stayton (Goldie Hawn) throws widowed carpenter Dean Proffitt (Kurt Russell) off her yacht when some cabinetry he’s built doesn’t meet her severe specifications. Shortly thereafter, however, she accidentally falls overboard, the upsetting incident spurring in her total amnesia. Her husband Grant (Edward Herrmann) sees her Jane Doe picture on television, but isn’t interested in claiming her since with her missing, he’s free to spend her millions as he pleases. Dean, however, also sees the news report and goes to claim her pretending she’s his wife, not because he wants anything intimate between them but to exact work out of her that will repay the $600 she owed him for the carpentry work he previously did and was not reimbursed for. Joanna has no choice but to believe this stranger is correct in telling her that she’s his wife Annie and mother to his four out of control sons (Jared Rushton, Jeffrey Wiseman, Brian Price, Jamie Wild). Since the death of their real mother, Dean hasn’t been much of a father to the rambunctious boys as he’s working two jobs just to keep a (leaky) roof over their heads. But with “Annie” now installed as homemaker and Joanna for the first time learning what it’s like to care for someone other than herself, changes in the Profitt household slowly begin to happen.
Leslie Dixon’s screenplay has all the standard elements of a Garry Marshall comedy: slapstick shenanigans, overly broad characters, and a change in character that leads to a sentimental happy ending. But the cast is so engaging that the overly familiar farcical elements aren’t a tremendous burden (he even surprised me with that chocolate cream pie that we just know is going to land in someone’s kisser; it doesn’t). Hawn, of course, is game for all of the muck that Marshall puts her through whether it’s an ill-fitting wardrobe, a series of cooking disasters, a rainstorm which with the leaky roof means more water inside than outside (Goldie is particularly endearing sleeping while holding two pans to catch the water), cleaning the abominably dirty house (Goldie cuts away spider webs with scissors), defrosting the freezer, and washing clothes with an antiquated machine that has a mind and a will of its own. In fact, it is easily an hour into the movie (what with the rich bitch she plays at the beginning and the confused and frustrated amnesiac when that plot device kicks in) before we see the first trace of that famous Goldie grin. The movie turns stickily sentimental long before it’s over, and the outcome is never really in doubt, but the film is almost two hours long and could easily have lost twenty minutes to give it a snappier pace befitting the farce elements working overtime.
Goldie Hawn really plays a juicy Jekyll and Hyde part here, a she-monster at the start who slowly and methodically transforms into a caring and naturally maternal woman without a trace of selfishness, and it’s undoubtedly one of her best roles (and she’s also never looked more glamorous than in those early scenes as a millionaires despite some of the outrageous costumes she’s wearing). She even survives some of the tedious breakup scenes once she learns the truth of who and what she is. Though sometimes couples in real-life don’t possess much chemistry on screen, that’s not a problem with Kurt Russell who plays another of his regular Joe characters effortlessly and with much appeal as he, too, sees some of the errors of his ways and begins his own transformation. The four child actors are among the least charismatic and appealing children ever used in this kind of film, but they drop their potty-mouthed bombs with aplomb. Edward Herrmann plays the entitled rich guy rather predictably and with no invention, and Katherine Helmond has even less to do as Joanna’s pampered mother. Michael Hagerty does yeoman work as Dean’s best friend and business partner while Roddy McDowall (who also executive produces) scores a point or two as the Stayton’s butler.
The film’s theatrical aspect ratio of 1.85:1 is faithfully delivered in a 1080p transfer using the AVC codec. Compared to several recent MGM high definition releases, the picture quality on this release is quite underwhelming. Color saturation is very good, and flesh tones look very realistic. But sharpness is never better than above average and sometimes much softer, and details aren’t particularly forthcoming with the sometimes milky contrast applied. Black levels aren’t exceptionally deep either. The film has been divided into 32 chapters.
The DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 stereo sound mix is very typical for comedies of the era. All the stereo presence is directed toward music cues (score by Alan Silvestri and a host of pop tunes on the soundtrack) which sound very nice, but dialogue and ambient effects while well recorded are all monophonically reproduced in the center channel. No age-related artifacts are present to mar the audio.
The only bonus feature is a 1080p theatrical trailer which runs for 2 minutes.
3/5 (not an average)
The performances of (particularly) Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell make the best reason for watching Overboard. The high definition transfer is something of a disappointment, and with no bonus material to speak of, this might best be a rental property unless one is a big fan of the stars or the film.