Overboard is my favorite rom-com of all time. It’s also the most disturbing. While it took me several years to recognize this, I’m now unable to see it any other way. Sure I still enjoy watching it (every single time it’s on TV), but I’m now watching it like the psychological kidnapping thriller that it was meant to be. Have no idea what I’m talking about? Great, because I wrote approximately 10000 words to explain it in detail to you.
So the movie kicks off with Joanna (Goldie Hawn) lounging around on a yacht and ordering servants around. It’s clear right away that we’re supposed to hate her. Because good, kind people don’t lounge around on yachts. They work on them! That’s right, we also meet her future kidnapper/husband/savior/lady-spirt-breaker Dean (Kurt Russell) in the opening scenes. We know he’s one of the good guys because he’s a grown man who wears his overalls half-down. How can a guy too simple to put on overalls correctly be anything but a blessing in (sweaty) disguise.
Joanna hires him to build a very specific kind of shoe rack for him in her yacht suite. Something that looks nicer than 99.8% of American houses. Naturally Dean messes up (again, he’s simple) and Joanna responds by refusing to pay him. Also by throwing all his tools in the water. Good riddance sweaty carpenter Dean….And hello sociopathic kidnapper Dean.
Fast forward to later that night (or week…or year…who knows how time works with these people) and Joanna falls overboard in the middle of the night. She hits her head on what I can only presume is a sharp dolphin and washes up on shore with amnesia. The kind of amnesia that seems to only exist in movies. Even though she can’t remember who she is or where she’s from, she remembers to act like an entitled bitch when she’s in the hospital. Naturally the local hokey-pokey news runs a story on her that’s all “does this she-devil belong to you?” Her husband Grant sees this and even goes as far as to the hospital to get her. Then he remembers that he fucking hates her and leaves her to rot in her straight jacket. Luckily for her, Dean also sees this news report. Unluckily for her, Dean also hates her. But rather than leave her there, he tells the hospital that she’s his wife. Because the hospital also hates her (see a theme here?), they release her after Dean pinky swears he’s telling the truth.
He brings her home to his hovel — and I assure you, calling it a hovel is putting it nicely — and introduces her to
his their four wretched sons. Yep, that’s right. Dean is a single dad. It’s unclear when his wife died and/or who killed her. (*cough* definitely Dean *cough*) Even though Joanna feels like something is very wrong this set-up, she has no choice but to go along with it. Because when a man who calls himself your husband picks you up from the hospital and says, “sugarplum, your name is Annie, your my wife and these are our children,” you roll with it. Even when he dumps you in the water bin for disobeying him and even when he pretends like he wants to drunkenly sex you to freak you out.