35 Reasons ‘Overboard’ Became a Cult Classic on Its 35th Anniversary

35 years later "Overboard" remains a comedy classic, and with good reason.
35 Reasons ‘Overboard’ Became a Cult Classic on Its 35th Anniversary

Largely thanks to the chemistry between Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell, Overboard remains an 80s rom-com classic. Honestly, this movie may have been shelved and completely forgotten about if it werent for the Hollywood favorites on-screen charisma. Instead, people today still enjoy watching Hawn walk around in that thong and belittling Russells character to the point where he completely loses his marbles and ends up kidnapping her in one deranged revenge plot. (Boy, the 1980s — and also that thong.)

To celebrate the films 35 years of existence, here are 35 reasons why Overboard, with all its flaws, still remains wildly popular... 

It’s Kinda, Sorta Based on Actual Events

In 1981, there were news reports of a woman found in a Chicago state park, naked and suffering from amnesia. It took seven months, but she was finally identified and traced back to her parents… who said they hadnt spoken to her in seven years. A separate story saw a woman wash ashore in Florida with no memory of who she was. Both of these tales helped to form the movies central plot.

The Directorial Touch of a Comedy Legend

Overboard was directed by Garry Marshall, the man who wrote for both The Lucy Show and The Dick Van Dyke Show, created Happy Days and, following Overboard, went on to direct Pretty Women, Runaway Bride and The Princess Diaries.

The Dawn of A Screenwriter’s Successful Career

Overboard was screenwriter and producer Leslie Dixon's first major film. She later wrote Mrs. Doubtfire, Freaky Friday and Limitless, while serving as an executive producer on the critically-acclaimed psychodrama Gone Girl.

A Sign of Bygone Times (Thank God)

A woman falls off a boat and gets amnesia. She is taken advantage of by a man out for revenge who: kidnaps her, lies to her, forces her to raise his kids and even gets her to boink him. Yeah, in todays world, that reads more like a thriller horror than a rom-com.

Stars Who Were Newly in Love

Say what you will about this movie and some of its questionable ideas and themes — of which there are plenty — but watching the then newly coupled-up Hawn and Russell fall in love as their on-screen characters took Overboard to another level.

The Eat-the-Rich Vibes

The movie is part of cinemas not-so-long tradition of ridiculing rich people and their silly rich ways. Getting amnesia, being kidnapped by a working-class family and learning to do hard work themselves is apparently the only way a rich snob can overcome their love of yachts and escape their godawful parents and useless spouse.

The Lemon Hat Joke

In a first acts showcase of the rich and terrible, Hawn ends up uttering one of the funniest jokes in the movie at the end of this scene:

So Many Adaptations

Listen, if your film has seen six adaptations from around the world — including one Hindi film, one South Korean TV show and a Russian miniseries — theres no doubt that its become a phenomenon. 

Seriously, Everyone Wanted to Get in on the Remake Action

Before we got the Anna Faris gender-swapped remake, Will Smith was looking to produce one in 2010, with Jennifer Lopez in talks for the lead.

A Family Affair


Pictured: Not their actual kids.

Not only were Russell and Hawn dating at the time, but they also had their kids on set. Russell and Hawn even hosted a barbeque for the entire cast and crew, like they were one big family on set.

Luxury Boats

Overboard and its remake had ultra-luxe boats at the center of their stories. The one from the original was the same boat used in the 1993 movie, Indecent Proposal.

Roger Ebert Liked It

While most critics at the time panned the film, Ebert gave it three stars, writing, The things that make Overboard special, however, are the genuine charm, wit and warm energy generated by the entire cast and director Garry Marshall. Hawn and Russell work well together, never overplaying scenes that easily could have self-destructed.

The Scene Where Joanna Remembers

Because when it comes to blondes in comedies, Hawn is the GOAT. She can go from sincere to hilarious to heartfelt to dumbstruck in the blink of an eye.

The National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation Crossover


Dean’s blue pick-up truck is the same one used in the 1989 comedy — the one following the Griswold family in its opening scene.

Warner Bros.

The Cooking Scene

There is just something so funny about Hawn dressed in a smock the size of a king-size duvet giving Russell a deadpan look while saying, “You shot a chicken?”

The Improv

Joey (Jeffrey Wiseman), one of Deans kids, has this strange habit of speaking in a Pee-Wee Herman voice. Apparently, this was improvised, as Marshall encouraged all the actors to come up with their own unique takes on the characters.

Hawn and Russell Fell in Love All Over Again Watching the Movie Together

It would be years later before the two stars got cozy and rewatched the movie together. Hawn said on The Late Late Show with James Corden that they never watch their own films, and thats fair — but they both enjoyed it so much that they fell in love with each other all over again.

The Other Russell Cameo

Russell’s dad, Bing Russell, has a cameo appearance in the movie as Sheriff Earl.

Inspired By An Italian Movie

Medusa Distribuzione

The 1974 Italian film Swept Away has a rich yacht owner finding herself stranded on a deserted island with a member of her crew. Its not a comedy, but the premise did inspire Overboard and birthed an awful Guy Ritchie and Madonna remake in 2002.

Russell and Hawn Wouldn’t Make Another Movie Together For 31 Years

Netflix's 2018 film, The Christmas Chronicles, would mark the first time that the two appeared on screen together since 1987.

All of Goldie Hawn’s One-Liners

Its hard to pick a favorite Hawn line. Of course, theres the aforementioned lemon hat joke, but she also dropped, My life is like death, my children are the spawn of hell and youre the devil! As well as, Well, the entire civilized world knows that all closets are made of cedar. Then theres the scene early on with Andrew the Butler painting her toenails while she unloads, These gnats keep landing on my wet nail polish. I guess Im supposed to walk around with their little corpses stuck to my fingers, is that it? ... Its easy for you to say. You dont have to sit out here in the brine with your perm frizzing to oblivion. I look like a bushman.

Reese Witherspoon s Mega-Fandom

When the actress presented Hawn and Russell with their Hollywood Walk of Fame stars in 2017, she admitted that her first email address was overboard@aol.com.

The Controversy It Continues to Inspire

From people arguing that Dean should be jailed for his unhinged revenge plot to others saying that Anna Faris remake retained the original films sexism regardless of the gender swap — this odd screwball comedy and its remake will forever be a talking point among fans and cinephiles alike. Leslie Dixon, who wrote the original film, said of the remake: In this day and age, theres something that feels peculiar at best and unsavory at worst about a woman bringing a man into her home when she has four daughters.

It Was Ray Combs Only Film Appearance

The comedian, who would go on to host Family Feud, played a local cop. It marked his first and only appearance in a movie.

The Butler Was An Executive Producer

Roddy McDowall — one of the stars of The Planet of the Apes — served as an executive producer on Overboard, and was pitch-perfectly cast as Andrew the Butler.

Another Family Appearance

The Coast Guard spotter is played by none other than Garry Marshalls son, Scott Marshall.

The Underappreciated Mike Hagerty Pops Up

The late actor, who played Dean’s best friend, Billy, had parts in some of the best sitcoms in history — from Cheers and Seinfeld to Friends and Curb Your Enthusiasm. John Candy almost ended up playing Billy but was already committed to doing Planes, Trains and Automobiles. Hagerty, however, more than held his own.

”We Moved Here… Deliberately?”

The whole gaslighting thing aside, the scene where Dean takes Joanna to his house for the first time is hysterical. The small details make it great: the TV with its lost signal, one of the kids playing with a toilet plunger and the ”curtains” all come together to perfectly set the mood.

Joanna/Annie Doing Housework

It isnt a 20th-century comedy without a slapstick montage sequence. Like this one, in which Hawn hilariously tries out all the different ways of dealing with cleaning up dinner.

Real Locations

The Wharf Restaurant and Captain Flint’s weren’t built sets. They were real, local restaurants in Mendocino, California, where the film was shot.

The Wardrobe


From Hawns skimpy bathing suits and haute couture to Russells denim vests — there are just a lot of fashion choices being made here, not to mention Joannas silly smock she wears in her new role as Annie.

Behind-the-Scenes Shenanigans


A cut scene featured Billy (Hagerty) hanging out at the bowling alley, drinking beers with his Coast Guard buddies. Not only did they use actual Coast Guard members, but they drank real beer too, and, according to Fast-Rewind, everyone was hammered by the end of shooting it.

A Putt-Putt Center for the Locals


The putt-putt course they built was left intact when filming wrapped, so the locals could go and enjoy some mini-golf on Overboard's set.

Joanna Falling Off the Boat

Joanna seems to care more about her hair than the fact that she fell overboard in the dead of night, and Hawn nails it.

An Extra Apparently Led to Barack Obama Becoming President


One of the women hanging out with Joannas husband is actress Rielle Hunter, who would have an extramarital affair with former U.S. Senator John Edwards in 2007. Edwards was the Democratic Partys nominee for VP in 2004 and was up for the presidential nomination in 2008. However, following the scandal, the Democrats got Obama to step in, and the rest is political (and also Overboard) history.


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