The Goonies (1985)
Nowadays i tend to bandy the word “classic” around, like it’s about to go out of fashion, but i have to say The Goonies really is a classic of 80s cinema. Before i go any further let me just say this, The first time i settled down to watch this movie, i was far from impressed. I lasted a mere 15 minutes before turning it off, thinking it was possibly the worst VHS rental i could have picked. All i could hear, was what i considered to be a load of mouthy American kids just shouting at each other non stop. No way was i going to make it through two hours of this. Must have had a bad day at work, and the last thing i needed was, what i considered to be a gang of Stateside teens, screaming and yelling at one another.
Fast forward 35 years. I’m having a conversation about classic 80s movies with a couple of guys at work, and as always happens, The Goonies comes up. How can you have never seen The Goonies all the way through ??? How can you not consider it to be one of the defining movies of the 80s ??? I’d been asked these and other questions many times over the years, so i thought it was about time i took another look at The Goonies, to see if my opinion of it had changed. Low and behold it had. My whole outlook had completely altered.
The Goonies, are a bunch of misfit kids, who all live in a small, picturesque, coastal bay town called Astoria. They love going on “Goonie Adventures”, exploring etc, and doing the kind of stuff kids enjoy doing. This little town is about to be sold to a local businessman, and turned into a huge country club, and golf course. One day while exploring the attic, Mikey, played by Sean Astin, finds an old treasure map, which supposedly, in the 1600s, once belonged to the pirate, One Eyed Willy. To cut a long story short, the gang decide to follow the treasure map, to try and find the fortune in jewels, apparently hidden somewhere within the underground cave system beneath Astoria, and save their homes, and the town, from foreclosure.
This, Richard Donner directed, Indiana Jones style quest leads to various adventures involving booby traps, being pursued by The Fratelli’s, a family of local criminals, who want the treasure for themselves, and a hidden, secret Fratelli family member, straight out of a horror film, and a pirate ship buried deep within the caves.
This is a straightforward family adventure movie with a slightly adult edge to it. It also has a cast of brilliant young actors including Cory Feldman, as Mouth, fresh from his success in Gremlins the year before, Ke Hu Quan as Data, the budding inventor, who the previous year, played one of Indiana Jones’s sidekicks in Temple Of Doom, Josh Brolin, who went on to have huge success in movies such as No Country For Old Men, and several of the Marvel movies. The supporting cast includes Sean Astin as Mikey the sensitive kid, Jeff Cohen as Chunk, who’s never less than enthusiastic about pretty much everything, and rounding things off are Martha Plimpton, and Kerri Green, as the only two female Goonies.
The thing with The Goonies is this. There’s a whole generation of twenty somethings out there who quote this movie as being one of their all time favourites. they grew up with it, have seen it multiple times, purchased the merchandise including t shirts, posters and various other bits of paraphernalia, and can quote dialogue and scenes from the movie, word for word. Its a treasured, fondly remembered part of their childhood, and their love for this movie, is something i didn’t quite appreciate going into it. You mention any movie from the 80s, and people get very sentimental about the memories they have of them, but you mention The Goonies and you get whoops, shouts and cries of “HEY YOU GUYS !!!” and GOONIES NEVER SAY DIE !!!.The feelings of pure respect, love and affection for, what at first seems a simple kids adventure movie, is something you can feel, whenever your in a room with anyone, who’s a fan.
The Goonies, is without a shadow of a doubt, a complete phenomenon, which i definetely enjoyed alot more the second time around. What i didn’t get, and i was pre warned about this, is the pure nostalgia hit, i would have got, had i seen, and enjoyed it, upon my original viewing 35 years ago. Back then, to me, it was just an irritating racket. Nowadays i can appreciate the film for what it is, a cracking adventure yarn, starring a bunch of kids, some of whom were on the verge of becoming very famous indeed.
There are many aspects of The Goonies that may seem slightly jarring, seen with modern eyes. Alot of the humour, and attitudes in the film, wouldn’t quite sit right with audiences today. There’s also some slightly uncomfortable dialogue, which definetely wouldn’t fly today, but i have to say it all adds to the overall 80s feel of it. But if you take it for what it is, you will absolutely enjoy the hell out of this brilliant family movie. I’m certainly glad i took the time to revisit it after, nearly four decades, and, unlike my first watching, i can heartily recommend it to anyone looking for a harmless, fun way to spend a couple of hours, on a rainy Saturday afternoon. Just settle in and enjoy…..