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'Overboard' (PG-13)

By Rita Kempley
Washington Post Staff Writer
December 16, 1987

If there's an amnesia movie worse than "Overboard," it slips my mind.

Goldie Hawn and significant other Kurt Russell costar in this inverted Cinderella story, a deeply banal farce that pooh-poohs the idle rich (who won't see it) as it panders to the noble poor (who should save their money). It features one-dimensional characters, a good long look at Hawn's buttocks and lots of pathetic sex jokes.

The skimpily clad, elfin midlifer Hawn plays heiress Joanna Stayton, a perpetually bored, pampered poodle of a money bucket. She and her foppish husband (Edward Herrmann) have docked their yacht for emergency repairs -- the remodeling of a closet. Little does she know she is about to find true happiness scrubbing floors.

Russell -- whose performance is this movie's only virtue -- is Old Spice manly in his role as Dean, a kindly flannel-shirted carpenter who is tossed overboard with his tools when Joanna deems her closet unsatisfactory. She and her husband put to sea, Joanna falls overboard and like many a soap opera diva, gets amnesia.

Dean tricks Joanna into believing she's his wife Annie and the mother of his four sons -- country-style juvenile delinquents who turn out to be Campbell's Soup kids underneath it all. After a lot of cooking, cleaning and nurturing, the irritable heiress becomes the perfect wife and a peachy mom. And for just a few scenes, the caricatures become flesh and blood and the movie a lovely one.

Russell and Hawn play off their comfortable real-life chemistry in these late scenes, but the filmmakers -- director Garry Marshall of "Nothing in Common" and writer Leslie Dixon of "Outrageous Fortune" -- cheapen them with "Porky's"-style dialogue. The kids, who have come to adore Joanna, still make lewd comments about the woman they think of as their mother. Maybe Dixon thinks she's got to write like a pig to keep up with the fellas.

"Overboard" contains profanity.

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