The Goonies (1985)

Posted by on Jan 2, 2012 in My Childhood | 0 comments

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Disclaimer: Some violence, a little mention of sex, and lots of swearing.

This is one of the most beloved of all children’s films, which held true in my own household when I was growing up, and for good reason. Its unique story and screenplay (by Steven Spielberg and Chris Columbus) speaks to children instead of at them, and includes loads of swearing, sexual curiosity, and immaturity – of course, that’s not the only way to reach kids. The Goonies boldly goes where few have before (Stand By Me certainly did) by giving kids a chance to view others that think, speak, and behave as they do.

The band of children the film goonies2follows is nicknamed as such for the working class neighborhood in which they reside – the Goondocks. With the wealthy landowners threatening to raze their homes to make way for a golf course, the Goonies decide to follow a legendary map rumored to lead to pirate treasure – a lifetime of loot collected by One-Eyed Willy. The gang includes the asthmatic leader Mikey (Sean Astin), his muscle-bound brother Brand (Josh Brolin), smart aleck Mouth (Corey Feldman), clumsy compulsive liar Chunk (Jeff Cohen), gadget-creating Data (Jonathan Ke Quan), two squeamish girls Andy and Stef (Kerri Green and Martha Plimpton), and a surprise character played by footballer John Matuszak.

The gang encounters problems, however, when a family of murderous fugitives begins following their trail (quarrelling brothers played by Joe Pantoliano and Robert Davi, and their power-tripping mother memorably played by Anne Ramsey). Their journey takes them through underground tunnels, where they have Indiana Jones-esque run-ins with bats, an extensive waterslide, and hordes of booby traps. And like Spielberg’s Indiana Jones films, The Goonies is a non-stop action flick with loads of effects and thrilling sequences.

Some excellent comedic performances goonies3by Feldman and Cohen provide wall-to-wall laughs as well, with memorable scenes such as the castrated statue, Spanish housekeeper, “Truffle Shuffle,” and Chunk confessing his entire life of sins. One of the film’s most endearing qualities is its almost endless number of repeatable lines that have infiltrated the pop culture lexicon (“Goonies never say die!” “Andy, you Goonie!” “Hey you guys!” “Baby Ruth” “50 dollar bill” “Oh come on, come on – you are in the clouds and we are in the basement” and “My pinchers of peril!”). One of the funniest quotes, “The octopus was really scary,” is an editing mistake as it refers to a horrid scene involving an Ed Wood-type octopus that was deleted late in production.

Sadly, or perhaps fortunately (I’ll reserve judgment for now), a sequel has been rumored for the past decade, with Director Richard Donner and actors Astin and Feldman alternating fueling and extinguishing the buzz. But the latest statement is that “it’s inevitable.” So you be the judge.

With direction from Donner (of Superman and Lethal Weapon fame) and a soundtrack that includes REO Speedwagon and the title song (Goonies R Good Enough) by Cyndi Lauper, you shouldn’t need to be told that The Goonies is a time capsule of the 80s with action-adventure moments paying homage to movies of the 40s and 50s. And if I may be so bold as to use the lamest ending ever, it’s a “treasure.”

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