The Goonies ‘r’ good enough for me!
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?_
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.
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.
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).
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Co-Creator of RunPee, Chief of Operations, Content Director, and Managing Editor. RunPee Jilly likes galaxy-spanning sci fi, superhero sagas, fantasy films, YA dystopians, action thrillers, chick flicks, and zany comedies, in that order…and possesses an inspiringly small bladder. In fact, that little bladder sparked the creation of RunPee. (Good thing she’s learned to hold it.)