“The Goonies” just turned 32 and it’s crazy to think that much time has passed, and that I have gotten that much older. But this is one of my all-time favorites, so what better time than now to dive into this classic from 1985.
This movie had a fantastic team behind the camera. Steven Spielberg wrote the story, Chris Columbus wrote the screenplay and Richard Donner was in the director chair to lead this young cast. Sean Astin, Josh Brolin, Jeff Cohen, Corey Feldman, Ke Huy Quan, Kerri Green and Martha Plimpton made up the Goonies. Robert Davi, Joe Pantoliano and Anne Ramsey formed the bumbling criminal family of the Fratelli’s.
The story followed a group of kids living in the ‘Goon Docks’ of Astoria that embark on an important journey when they find an authentic treasure map in Mikey’s attic. With his father being a museum curator, Mikey has no doubt the map is real. He convinces the rest of his friends to join him on the adventure to find a treasure that will keep their homes from being foreclosed, and destroyed to make room for a posh coastal country club.
There are not many people who haven’t heard of ‘The Goonies’. Since its release, is has developed a massive following, consisting of more than just the millions of kids who grew up in the 80’s loving this film. When discussing classic films of the decade, the conversation would not be completed without mentioning this classic tale of adventure.
Yes, the plot is beyond implausible, and some of the characters and scenarios are far-fetched. But that is what makes this film the enjoyable adventure it is. Director Richard Donner captures the cold, grey feel of the region with a great selection of backdrops in his scenes. Locations that have over the years made for a collection of national film landmarks people still flock to today.
The settings of the film add to the adventure as the group of kids weave their way through the wilderness, caverns, and beaches in search of a treasure that could save all their families homes. This is a subtle element, but it more than effectively fuels the plot and builds the desperation of the young characters as you know the stakes that are involved and the pressure riding on them to succeed.
Being able to connect to the character’s is key to the enjoyment of a movie. And the casting in this one resulted in just that, characters you can invest in. The group of kids, were led by young Mikey, who was excellently portrayed by Sean Astin. With his unending determination, and belief in the stories his father tells him, he keeps the rest of the group moving. An aspect I found compelling as he felt like a capable young leader despite his lack of maturity. Throughout this story the cast has a great chemistry that makes you feel like they really are friends, banding together for a common goal and as a viewer you can’t help but sit back and root for their success.
There was also a great mix of character types among the group. They each bring their own unique personality to the film, and added with a great screenplay written by Chris Columbus, the interactions between the kids are amusing. They are lighthearted, natural, at-times clever, and manage to lock the film in the 80’s era with unending slang from the decade that will naturally rouse some nostalgia.
The first-act starts with an introduction to the main characters and quickly sets up the plot for the rest of the film. With a fluid pace, and a mix of adventure and laughs, your entertainment will never waver. The group of kids relentlessly pursue this treasure of the old pirate One Eyed Willie with danger around every corner.
All the while being chased by the Fratelli’s, a mother and two son crime family that in their own right deliver many laughable moments. Both through the dialogue, and with their physical comedy. Davi, Pantoliano, and Ramsey were all fantastic in this film. They add a nice balance to the younger cast and convey just evil enough of an antagonist to seem viable. But not too capable to think some kids couldn’t outsmart them.
Now anything conversation about “The Goonies” would be lacking completion without mentioning the most memorable member of the cast, Sloth. Just as odd as his placement in this film, is the surprising enjoyment that comes as the result of his contribution to the adventure. With his, let’s say odd mannerisms, and virtually zero backdrop or reasoning, Sloth, for me has gone down as one of the memorable film characters from the 80’s. A much different era than we live in now. Where the stocks in Aqua Net soared, the dollar was strong, and movies could implement a character like this without suffering from major backlash.
Something I think is a silent contributor to why this film has never gotten a reboot. As the silent but multi-million-dollar question looms of – how do you revamp this character without offending the current day masses, or the old-school fans? With the answer being simple. You can’t.
Regardless, this film is fun for all ages and still holds its relevance today. The group of kids, as they hunt for the treasure learn to believe in one another. Learn to never give up, and along the way they also discover a great deal about themselves. They learn about the value of not casting judgement on others. Loving people for who they are, and that sometimes a person’s weaknesses can actually be used as strengths. These subtle messages are all delivered in a wild adventure, with some fun performances that were perfect, because they weren’t perfect. This film gives you a little bit of everything and it will always be one of the all-time greats.