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The Goonies ‘r’ good enough for me!

Can’t keep a good Goonie down.

Here’s another Amblin Entertainment kid-based movie by Steven Spielberg that still holds up over time. The Goonies (from 1985) is a charming, fun ride featuring pirates, monsters, secret passageways, treasure maps, cunning kids, and more bike chases than E.T. (What is it with Spielberg, kids, and bicycles?) Altogether, it’s worth getting to the drive-in to catch this one on the big screen in select theater locations — like mine! We may not have new movies, but we can rediscover and share the best of the old ones. My niece just saw The Goonies at our closest drive-in, and I didn’t have the Peetimes for her. My bad. They’re up now on the RunPee app, in case you go. I have three really good ones.

Note: All Classic reviews have spoilers. Ye be warned. 

What and who are the Goonies? Where are the pirates? Is this a kissing book?

Okay, this isn’t The Princess Bride, but it’s got all the adventure elements a kid (or kid-like adult) could want. There’s a little kissing, but it’s not played up. It’s more about a bunch of geeky friends trying to save their Oregon coast homes from becoming a golf course, by way of booby traps and secret maps. Who didn’t want to become a Goonie after this? Did you make your own Goonie club? Can I make a Goonie Meetup?

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Hampering the story are some rather goofy elements that drag things down. The villains are too over the top. Some of the gags are almost stupid, which is surprising in a Steven Spielberg film. Usually he’s more clever than that. These moments take one out of the otherwise fine story structure, and keep The Goonies from getting an A+.

Looking back. Way back.

One thing that stands out from The Goonies is how incredibly young some of these well-known, beloved actors are. Look at Josh Brolin as a teen. He’s only recognizable if you know it’s him — today he’s all growed up as Thanos and Cable, in two hit franchises you may have heard of. Sean Astin is equally not Samwise Gamgee. And so on. It’s a fun cast, played off well by Chris Columbus, who went on to head the first Harry Potter films.

A couple of interesting notes from my rewatch: 

  • There’s a reference to Gremlins if you listen for it: pay attention to Chunk talking to the sheriff. So this is a shared universe! We can call it an Amblin Entertainment Universe…which implies E.T. also happened.
  • The nods to Raiders of the Lost Ark and the Indiana Jones series. Some of those booby traps look awfully familiar. Spielberg is having fun riffing off himself. And I’ll take the time to tell you Gremlins also references the Amblin-verse. I’ll share that in the Gremlins review.
  • Spielberg loves Looney Toons. Listen to Data’s contraptions and how they effect him and the bad guys. These sound effects are an homage to Bugs and Co, but they aren’t as funny as they should be, and take the viewer out of the story. If you’re not an actual Toon, then the ‘looney’ effects only work in Toon-crossovers like Farscape (in Revenging Angel), Space Jam, Roger Rabbit, or the living Toon of Jim Carrey in The Mask.
  • In case you’re wondering, naming a Goonie “Data” is not an homage to Star Trek: The Next Generation. The Goonies is a 1985 flick, whereas ST:TNG didn’t premiere until 1987. It’s unknown if this is a coincidence on the part of Trek.
  • At 1:13 the Goonies have a peeing scene. We note these things because peeing during movies is our business.

Grading Goonies

So there are some over-the-top goofy moments, that, intended or not, are notably awkward . Also, the villains aren’t interesting. They aren’t clever, or funny, or even slightly sympathetic. I’m not sure what they were trying to do and why.

Sloth, on the other hand, was warmly amusing and really elevated Chunk’s journey: always being the ridiculed, clumsy Goonie was hard on him. With Sloth, Chunk found an even worse-off outcast, and realized they could both be superheroes if they worked together. I loved their bonding scenes. Sloth was an example of how over-the-top should be used. Sloth rules.

And the pirates? They were only there in spirit, among the skeletal remains, and in the imagination of Mike. Mike (Sean Astin) intuitively followed the clues by getting ‘into the mind” of a canny pirate called One Eyed Willy. Mile’s the true hero of Goonies (along with Chunk accidentally becoming one too). And of course, teamwork goes a long way.

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I got something in my eye when the pirate ship sails off in the end. Goodbye and good luck, Willy!

Overall, the messages are pretty good:

  • Use your head. Think things through. If you want something bad enough, there are probably clues to follow.
  • Don’t expect you will get exactly what you wanted. Sometimes you’ll find something better.
  • Trust your friends in difficult situations, and be someone your friends can trust too.
  • Don’t be afraid of someone different than you. They might turn out to be your new best friend.

Movie Grade: A

Also, you can’t beat that Cyndi Lauper made an entire hit song about The Goonies (they ‘r’ good enough).

Concert Review – The Movie Music of John Williams

Movie Review – First Man

Movie Review – Ghostbusters (2016 reboot)

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4 responses to “Classic Movie Review – The Goonies”

  1. Sarah E Smithers Avatar
    Sarah E Smithers

    I dont think I’ve ever seen Goonies.. I think i was afraid the stupid parts would be too childish and stupid and it would just make me mad.. And from what you just posted I think I couldn’t sit through it

  2. Awww, Sarah! You need to add this movie to your life list. See it, by all means. It’s just lovely, and the nits that I picked are so minor. I mean, seriously — I gave this an A!!!!

    An A!

    Let me reiterate that I gave it a full A.

  3. Yes, Hatchet gave the film an A! I would probably have had added two or three +’s after it but that’s the difference between us.

    You do have to look twice to recognise Josh Brolin but notice how he’s using his chest expanders, getting ready for the call to the MCU. Which has just made me think… is there any other actor who has had two prominent, and different, roles in the MCU?

    Oh, and data has been used in English since the 1640’s so that predates both The Goonies and ST:TNG. I was going to start on about why Data was chosen as a name but that way lies mansplaining!

  4. Hatchet here. It’s cute that we’re picking a tiff over the difference between an A+ and an A. All movies should be so lucky.

    I have trouble awarding that top grade to movies with boring villains (this is why Guardians of the Galaxy “only” gets an A, no matter that it’s one of my favorite-ever movies). But setting the silly bad guys aside, Goonies is delightful. I want to gather all my friends together and Knight them as Goonies, and text everyone an open invitation to join me on various adventures.

    But it’s missing that X factor to make it transcendent. I had to ask, “Is Goonies as good as E.T.? As Jurassic Park, Raiders of the Lost Ark, or Titanic?” That’s where the difference comes in. And even though Spielberg proved his kid movie magic with ET. in 1982, he took a brief diversion in 84 and 85 with the looney toons styling of Gremlins and Goonies.

    Some movies that I grandfather in as A+ films, like Back to the Future and Ghostbusters, allow me to ignore bad science and implausible situations because they still have the ability to enchant me. Goonies has that childhood nostalgia, but I cared more about the adventure and situations than about any of the characters. I think to have properly told the Goonies tale, the movie needed another half hour.

    In those days younger audiences lacked the bladder power for that. Too bad we weren’t around then!

    Technically, only Thanos is/was in the MCU when their movies came out (the movies…not the comic books). Disney/Fox are now folding the X-Men into the MCU, which will make Deadpool and the Avengers in the same universe (although I argued before that they were already had been.)

    Hints of the MCU in Deadpool:

    But to answer your question, I don’t think there’s much crossover in the actors. Unless you count Chris Evans from both the Avengers and Fantastic Four? That’s reaching far back. Or, Ryan Reynolds reprising his own role with two Deadpools.

    Ryan Reynolds also manages to cross the DC/Marvel gap, although he doesn’t like to admit The Green Lantern exists anymore than his first Deadpool. 😉

    Sometimes I make these huge comments and wonder if I can turn them into articles!

    Anyway, please mansplain me about Data. I am…intrigued.

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