Tuesday, February 14, 2012


Last night, depressed and gloomy from my teeth-based escapades, I watched Overboard with my wife.

Growing up, we had a paltry collection of films to watch at home; a double comedy feature (Rhubarb Rhubarb and The Plank), A View To A Kill (which we'll come to shortly) and Overboard, which arrived some time after the others.

I like Overboard. It hasn't dated as much as some 80s films because Goldie Hawn's costumes in the first act are intentionally ludicrous, and Kurt Russell wears jeans and a tight tanktop, which for him never goes out of style. There's a bit too much reliance on the banjo/slap bass soundtrack to convey the fact that Something Enjoyable Is Happening, but most of the film has an adorably light touch, never more so than when Goldie Hawn's character recovers from her amnesia:

"Thank you for making me a wife and giving me children and - why did you do that?"

At the same time, and just like Ghostbusters, I felt constantly reminded that this could be a much more sinister film. A vengeful carpenter fools a quack psychiatrist into giving him a rich woman with no memory, who he enslaves, forcing her to live in animal like conditions in a hellish hovel, surrounded by his feral children. (Let it not be forgotten that our first sight of the kids is as they were attempting to immolate their teacher.) Of course, Kurt's had a hard decade, what with flesh-devouring monstrous Things in the Antarctic to deal with, and Kim Cattrell waiting just round the corner in Big Trouble In Little China, but come on now...

The message of Overboard is that it's fine to trick a woman into loving you, and that as long as you're deep down a nice enough bloke, then the posh totty with the big boat will bear your kids, help secure funding for your pitch-and-putt park, and even redecorate your kitchen. Hell, she'll beam with pleasure when you give her a washing machine for her birthday.

As such, it's not just a film with a radically conservative message (not so much telling women to get back in the kitchen as kicking them back in there with a bag over their heads) but the sort of thing that makes you worry whether every man who is that bit too entitled, expecting women to kowtow to his every need, was watching Overboard on repeat all through the 80s.

Oh, hang on.

I was watching Overboard on repeat through the 80s. My only excuse is that I didn't even know what a woman was. I'm British, after all.


Post a Comment