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Joanna Stayton is a super-rich spoiled brat, over-bored you might say. Dean Proffitt is a struggling carpenter who should know how to handle brats since he raised four of them. One night Goldie goes overboard on her yacht, loses her memory, and winds up in Dean's world. Then the sparks begin to fly.
For more about Overboard and the Overboard Blu-ray release, see Overboard Blu-ray Review published by Jeffrey Kauffman on January 23, 2011 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.0 out of 5.
Starring: Kurt Russell, Goldie Hawn, Edward Herrmann, Katherine Helmond, Roddy McDowall, Mike Hagerty
Director: Garry Marshall
» See full cast & crew
Overboard Blu-ray Review
Hawn and Russell valiantly try to keep this film afloat.
Reviewed by Jeffrey Kauffman, January 23, 2011
Garry Marshall is one of the old school comedy giants of Hollywood, a man whose work in television goes back to such stalwart series as The Dick Van Dyke Show and Make Room for Daddy. Marshall of course went on to great renown for his efforts on Happy Days, and was able to move into feature films starting with several efforts that ran the gamut from parodies like Young Doctors in Love to more critically acclaimed, if financially disappointing, outings like Nothing in Common, until he was accepted as a bona fide A-lister with Pretty Woman in 1990. In fact, as is to be expected in a career as long lived and far reaching as Marshall's has been, there's actually a rather wide disparity in quality in a lot of Marshall's output. For every television classic, there's the haunting memory of Me and the Chimp. And in films, Marshall's best work has sometimes been eclipsed by lighter fare that actually plays more like a television sitcom. That's exactly what viewers should expect, and what they get, in Overboard, an okay, and often enjoyable, romp with Goldie Hawn as an amnesiac rich bitch who is given her comeuppance by the carpenter she's recently fired, played by Hawn's real life main squeeze Kurt Russell. There's nothing very remarkable about Overboard, but it delivers a few laughs and is easy to take as it meanders its way to its expected happy ending.
Hawn has been an interesting phenomenon herself throughout her career which is nearly as long as Marshall's. After working as an extra in a few films (including some Disney features), Hawn started really attracting notice as the ditzy neighbor on the short lived CBS sitcom Good Morning, World, and then became an overnight sensation as one of the "Sock it to me" girls on Laugh-In, where her lame brained non sequiturs and bubble headed persona rather ably covered up what was obviously a very smart, career oriented woman who knew pretty much exactly how to play the Hollywood game. Hawn allowed herself to be cast in the dumb blonde mold and rode that cliché to an Oscar for Cactus Flower. If her initial film outings, frankly including her Academy Award winning film, didn't exactly stretch the parameters of "serious acting," Hawn established herself as one of the leading light comediennes of her generation. When she finally got the chance to display some dramatic acting chops in Steven Spielberg's early effort The Sugarland Express, suddenly there was acknowledgement from critics and audiences alike that this was an unusually complex personality who just might have the makings of a major actress.
The fact is Hawn, despite her occasional dramatic triumphs, has chosen the light comedy route more often than not, and she is the major spark that ignites Overboard, however fitfully. Her uptight debutante Joanna Stayton is a hoot in the early scenes, so tightly wound one almost expects her to explode on screen at any given moment. Hawn is able to generate guffaws from something as simple as trying to fit one of her absurdly huge epaulettes through a doorway. She plays this part of Overboard completely over the top, and it works perfectly as farce, aided and abetted by the equally broad turn by Katherine Helmond as Joanna's dotty mother, looking only slightly less outré than she does in Terry Gilliam's Brazil.
Unfortunately the film can't quite sustain the level of giddy silliness it attains in its early scenes, once Joanna has fallen off her yacht, suffering from amnesia, and getting whisked away by Russell's character Dean Proffitt, as he claims she's his wife and mother to his four unruly sons. The large middle act of Overboard plays exactly like one of Marshall's sitcoms, with stick figure characters, trite punch lines and simply silly shenanigans. It's no less entertaining than your typical 30 minute television escapade, but it's no more filling or substantive, either.
Hawn and Russell obviously have chemistry, and that helps bring life to the long middle segment of Overboard. That said, there's something just the slightest bit unsettling about Russell's Dean hoodwinking Hawn's Joanna (whom he rechristens "Annie") into thinking she's his wife, as she's already married to prissy Edward Herrmann. The burgeoning romance, so expected in a film like this, is actually handled fairly tastefully along the way—notice how the two never kiss and only share one exuberant hug after Dean gets some good financial news—but once their relationship is consummated, it seems just the slightest bit—to quote Hawn's character herself—tacky.
The four children actors are fun, if never given much more to do than cause mayhem, and Marshall stages everything with a minimum of fuss and bother, but with that early 80's penchant for nonstop zoom lenses. Roddy McDowall, also credited (perhaps surprisingly) as Executive Producer, has next to nothing to do as Hawn's put upon manservant, and Herrmann does his patrician patsy schtick with his usual relish. But one just can't help feeling a lot of Overboard plays like a warmed over sitcom, albeit without an intrusive laugh track.
Overboard Blu-ray, Video Quality
Glub, glub, glub. Overboard was never a particularly attractive film to begin with, and aside from receiving an anamorphic transfer on this new Blu-ray, there's unfortunately not a lot of good news about this AVC encoded transfer in 1080p and 1.85:1. While this print doesn't have the egregious damage that the previous SD-DVD exhibited, there are still occasional flecks and speckles. The worst thing about this transfer is the overwhelming grain which devolves at times into digital noise, which crops up especially in exterior shots of Dean's dilapidated house. The initial shots of this house in midrange almost look like a swarm of insects are covering it, and strange as it may seem, every midrange shot of the house for the entire film suffers from this same anomaly. Colors are okay, nothing more, with adequate but far from eye-popping saturation. The overall look of the film is depressingly soft and mushy, with less than crisp contrast and unstable black levels. Yes, it's a step up from previous home video releases, but really not by much, aside from its correct aspect ratio.
Overboard Blu-ray, Audio Quality
No surround mix here, but a perfectly serviceable lossless DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 mix makes the most of the ubiquitous source cues and live music performances which fill the film. Dialogue and underscore are both handled very well, and the frequent ambient environmental sound effects are also well mixed and offered with good fidelity here. Everything is easy to hear, albeit almost resolutely placed front and center for the bulk of the film. Even for a stereo mix, this is a fairly narrow soundfield, with very few if any discretely directional effects placed throughout the movie. Dynamic range is excellent, and the low end on the film is surprisingly robust, adding a bit of sonic "oomph" to the proceedings.
Overboard Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Only the Theatrical Trailer is included as an extra, and in fact this budget priced release does not even sport a main menu. The film loops back to the beginning after it ends.
Overboard Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Overboard is enjoyable enough if taken on its own unambitious terms. Hawn is a hoot, especially in the opening scenes, and she and Russell have great on screen chemistry. The film itself is a mishmash, a sort of warmed over sitcom that has just a hint of the smarmy in its main conceit. This Blu-ray transfer has a pretty shoddy looking image, but fans of the film will probably delight that at least it's framed correctly in this presentation. If you're a Hawn or Russell fan, you could do worse than to spend a couple of hours with this film, but it's certainly no masterpiece.
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