Film Flashback: The Goonies (1985)

I love the 80s. No, I am not talking about the VH1 show—but mostly about 80s pop culture (which is, funny enough, what that show is about). The movies are so over the top, the music is catchy, and the hair is big. Some of the films I watched as a kid created this bizarre love of movies within me. I realize now that it was total escapism. Willow was not real–though I probably spent more time trying to find out more about Nockmaar than was considered healthy. The Ghostbusters were just a bunch of comedians, and didn’t really have knowledge about the supernatural. At this point, I question whether Corey did, in fact, have a License to Drive. But the films were fun, youthful, and (maybe I am projecting my inner child here) innocent.


This whimsy inspired me to start my blog’s  “film of the month” club. I wanted to revisit these films—not just to see how well they held up over time, but to create a discussion about them. What about these films attracts audiences? Why do we find them appealing? How do people connect when discussing an old favorite film? How do I get Cyndi Lauper’s “Good Enough” out of my head? These old (or should I say “classic” to make myself seem younger?) films have a place in my heart and I guess I just wanted a reason to watch them once more.


Kicking off the film flashback is The Goonies, directed by Richard Donner and written by Steven Spielberg and Chris Columbus. The Goonies is about a group of misfit kids in a small, Oregon town. Mikey (no relation to the Life Cereal kid), played by Sean Austin, and Brand (Josh Brolin) are brothers living in an area of town about to be sold to developers and turned into a golf course. Unless their parents can come up with a large sum of moolah in less than 24 hours, their home (along with countless others) will be demolished. Funny enough, their father is a curator of a museum, with a bunch of antiquities in his attic. Yes, this sounds a little fishy to me too– was he stealing these artifacts?–but I went along with it. Although these pieces have been in the attic for who knows how long, Mikey, Brend, and their buds Chunk (Jeff Cohen), Mouth (Corey Feldman), and Data (Jonathan Ke Quan) find a super secret treasure map—in a frame. Yeah, it sounds silly when you say it out loud, but I was caught up in the heat of the moment, too. They meet up with a few other pals and search for this mysterious pirate ship, laden with gold pieces. Arrrre you ready to hear the last piece of the plot? They are chased by three escaped convicts: Larry, Curly, and Moe. It’s a race to see who will find the booty first– and who will survive (dun dun DUN!!).


Admittedly, it has probably been ten years or more since I have seen the film. While the tone of the movie still felt the same to me, I saw a lot that I had previously missed. For example, it opens with an elaborate (and I used that term loosely….. very loosely) jail break scene. After fooling one guard, the convict walks out of the jail’s open doors. Yes,wide, open prison doors. I think Oregon should rethink their prison system. The felons are just plain silly. Yes, it is a kid’s movie, but I didn’t remember them being so inept. Clearly, they went to the Three Stooges school of criminal activity. The three are so bumbling, I expected to hear a “why I oughtta….” several times. But, like most slapstick comedy, it still made me chuckle every now and then.


While watching The Goonies, I had to wonder what this would have looked like if it were made today. For example, the plot would probably be considerably shorter; as the main character would have just used his smart phone to call for help or look up directions. You see, back in the 80s, not everyone had a cell phone, and these kids were forced to try to find their way through an elaborate tunnel system on their own. Also, I have a feeling that the cast would look very different. Instead of actors playing age-appropriate parts, I am sure the cast would be composed of twenty-somethings pretending to be pre-teens and teens. Most likely, there would be more explosions, some slow-motion shots of people saying “noo!”, at least one sex scene, and each kid would be given some weird, complex backstory. There is certainly something to be said about simplicity.


Does this film hold up over more than two decades? Yes and no. During parts of the film, I think I groaned a few times. No, it was not just the criminals’ brilliant plan to listen to Chunk’s entire life story while trying to ascertain where his friends (with information on their whereabouts as fugitives) went. And it wasn’t just at the styrofoam rocks (remember how much I hated those in The Descent: Part 2? At least here I was willing to overlook the fake sets). Some of it just seems really dated now (especially some dialogue and characters). However, the plot, thin thought it may be, seemed to work for me. I like that no one was killed (oops… spoiler alert?). I like that the love interests just kissed (oooooh! Shame, shame, we know your name). It just seemed kind of sweet to me.


Although I realize times have changed since 1985 (yeah, The Goonies is celebrating its 25th anniversary), parts of the film seem a little problematic. However, I still felt the same sense of adventure when I watched this movie as a boring, serious, grown-up. I actually find the cheesy sets kind of fun. They remind me of some silly amusement park ride. And, in a way, that is the feel of this film. It’s a journey. One I know I could/would never take in real life, but one that I can take whenever I pop in this film.


Until next time!!! 🙂


Remembered Score: A+

Revisited Score: A-

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