The Goonies (1985)


“The Goonies” is the name of a group of kids (Sean Astin, The Lord of the Rings, Jeff Cohen, This is a Business, Corey Feldman, Friday the 13: The Final Chapter, Jonathan Ke Quan, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom) living in a coastal community facing eviction by greedy real state developers. When “The Goonies” find a treasure map, they embark on a quest to find the loot and save their homes.

Reaction & Thoughts:

“Goonies never say die!”

Despite being written by Chris Columbus (Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets) and directed by Richard Donner (The Omen), producer Steven Spielberg is the real auteur of this silly, but entertaining kiddie show. The Goonies has many things in common with Spielberg’s E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982) and the Indiana Jones films.

I watched The Goonies many times when I was in my early teens, and I always enjoyed it. However, now that I’m much older, I’m beginning to see the film’s shortcomings more clearly. The flimsy storyline is full of holes, most of the young actors overact, the dialogue is cringe inducing at times, and the ending is corny as hell.

The film’s brisk pace helps hide some of the most glaring inconsistencies. Plus, I’m certain the movie’s target audience, young kids, will enjoy its whimsical tone. However, The Goonies is an ’80s movie through and through, and I’m not sure how today’s jaded kids will react to a movie filled with the giddy optimism of the ’80s.

The cast is endearing. Jeff Cohen is a bit too much, but Corey Feldman has some great lines. Jonathan Ke Quan is by far my favorite — this kid is a natural! Kerri Green (Lucas), Martha Plimpton (Running on Empty) and Josh Brolin (Sicario) play the older kids. Robert Davi (The Living Daylights), Joe Pantoliano (The Matrix) and the inimitable Anne Ramsey (Throw Momma from the Train) play a gang of nasty criminals.

The fanciful art-direction looks as real as a Disneyland attraction, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. I loved the way the film uses Erich Wolfgang Korngold’s majestic score from the classic Errol Flynn swashbuckler The Sea Hawk (1940). Composer John Williams’s Superman theme is also utilized in a clever manner.

Conclusions & Final Thoughts:

Although I have definitely outgrown it, I will admit that The Goonies is a nice piece of escapism for pre-teens — it’s a goofy, but charming movie. It’s also fun to see so many well-known actors at the beginning of their careers. The film has understandably become a cult favorite among Gen Xers. Color, 114 minutes, Rated PG.

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