| Spoiler warning: The following contains plot details about|
the entire movie.
Heiress Joanna Stayton is accustomed to a wealthy life with her husband, Grant Stayton III. While waiting for their yacht to be repaired in the rural hamlet of Elk Cove, Oregon, she hires local carpenter Dean Proffitt to remodel her closet. He puts up with her rude and condescending attitude, and produces quality work, which is dismissed by her because he used oak instead of cedar, despite her not having specifically requested this at the start.
He agrees to redo the closet, if he is paid for the work he has already done. She refuses to pay, and they have an argument, during which he notes that she is inventing things to complain about, because her life is so pampered and boring. This is overheard by the yacht's crew on the intercom, who applaud him for telling her off. Their argument concludes with her pushing him off the yacht.
That night, as the yacht sails away, Joanna goes on deck to retrieve her wedding ring and falls overboard. The next day, a story is aired on the local TV news about her having been picked out of the water by a garbage scow. She is suffering from amnesia, and is taken to the local hospital, where no one can determine her identity. Once Grant discovers that she has fallen overboard, he sails back to retrieve her. After seeing her mental state and her lashing out at hospital employees, he denies knowing her, and returns to the yacht to embark on a spree of parties with younger women.
After seeing her story on the news, Dean, who is a widower living in squalor with four sons, seeks revenge by encouraging Joanna to work off her unpaid bill. He goes to the hospital and tells her that she is Annie, his wife for thirteen years, and the mother of his four sons. Dean lacks legal documentation to take her home, but is granted her release after telling the hospital staff about a small birthmark on her buttock, which he saw on the yacht when she was wearing a revealing swimsuit. She reluctantly goes home with him and is appalled by his residence, but feels some obligation to pitch in, having come to think of herself as "Annie".
Joanna initially has difficulty dealing with Dean's sons and the heavy load of chores, but she soon adapts. As she masters her responsibilities, she learns about the boys' school and family issues, and that Dean is secretly working two jobs to pay bills. She begins to fall in love with him and to develop motherly love toward his sons, and starts streamlining the money problems with more efficient budgeting. Joanna also convinces Dean to step up and be a father to his sons rather than simply be their friend, as his sons are doing poorly in school and struggle with literacy, yet he simply brushes these issues aside rather than fix them.
Seeing Dean struggle, Joanna makes his dream come true by helping him design a miniature golf course based on her untapped knowledge of the Seven Wonders of the World. Although he has also fallen in love with her, he doesn't tell her the truth about her real identity for fear that she will leave. Billy, a friend who created doctored photos of the couple to cement the alibi of their prior relationship, tells Dean that his family needs Joanna.
Meanwhile, after Joanna's mother, Edith, threatens to castrate Grant (who has been continually lying that Joanna is "too indisposed" to talk to her) if he doesn't produce Joanna in one week, he reluctantly ends the partying and returns to Elk Cove to retrieve her, tracing her to the Proffitt residence. She greets him and her memory instantaneously restores. She is shocked and hurt when she realizes that Dean lied and has been using her for months. She returns with Grant to their yacht.
Joanna now finds her old lifestyle boring and pretentious and is particularly offended by how rude and haughtily Grant and Edith treat the staff on the boat. She apologizes to her butler, Andrew, for her spiteful treatment of him. He then helps Joanna to realize how happy she was with Dean and his sons. Joanna commandeers the yacht and turns back toward Elk Cove. When Grant finds out, Joanna says she doesn't love him anymore and Grant, in return, reveals that he never loved her and that he left her at the hospital upon seeing her there. After Dean and Joanna reunite, she tells him that all of the money is actually hers, not Grant's. As the kids make their Christmas lists in the middle of June (including a Porsche), Dean asks her what he could ever give her that she doesn't already have. Joanna looks at the four boys and replies "a little girl."
|All spoilers have been stated and have ended here.|
- Goldie Hawn as Joanna Stayton/Annie Proffitt
- Kurt Russell as Dean Proffitt
- Edward Herrmann as Grant Stayton III
- Katherine Helmond as Edith Mintz
- Roddy McDowall as Andrew
- Michael G. Hagerty as Billy Pratt
- Brian Price as Travis Proffitt
- Jared Rushton as Charlie Proffitt
- Jamie Wild as Greg Proffitt
- Jeffrey Wiseman as Joey Proffitt
- Henry Alan Miller as Dr. Norman Korman
- Hector Elizondo as Garbage Scow Captain Tenati
- Sven-Ole Thorsen as Olaf
- Garry Marshall as Drummer
- Ray Combs as the cop at the hospital
On review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 44% based on 27 reviews, with an average rating of 5.1/10. On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 53 out of 100, based on 13 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews." Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "A–" on an A+ to F scale.
Variety praised Hawn's performance, but called it "an uninspiring, unsophisticated attempt at an updated screwball comedy that is brought down by plodding script and a handful of too broadly drawn characters." Rita Kempley of The Washington Post called it "a deeply banal farce" with "one-dimensional characters, a good long look at her buttocks and lots of pathetic sex jokes." Roger Ebert liked it; while calling it predictable, he wrote: "the things that make it special, however, are the genuine charm, wit and warm energy generated by the entire cast and director Garry Marshall." The Los Angeles Times' review of it read: "The film tries to mix the two 1930s movie comedy strains: screwball romance and populist fable. But there's something nerveless and thin about it. Hawn and Russell are good, but their scenes together have a calculated spontaneity—overcute, obvious."
The film has gone on to be considered a small cult classic.
The film made $1.9 million in its first weekend, $2.9 million in its second (+34%) and $3.9 million in its third (+54%), totaling $26.7 million by the end of its run.
- Main article: Overboard (2018)
A reimagined film of the same name, starring Anna Faris and Eugenio Derbez, was released on May 4, 2018. The main roles are reversed from the 1987 original. Derbez portrays a wealthy man who falls off of his yacht and is found by Faris' character, a single mother who convinces him that he is her husband.
A loose adaptation of Overboard is the 1992 Hindi film Ek Ladka Ek Ladki, directed by Vijay Sadanah and starring Salman Khan and Neelam Kothari.
The 1997 Malayalam film Mayaponman is another loose adaptation.
The 2006 South Korean television show Couple or Trouble, starring Han Ye-seul and Oh Ji-ho and directed by Kim Sang Ho, is also a loose adaptation of the film.