The Goonies

The Goonies (1985)
★★ / ★★★★

In Richard Donner’s “The Goonies,” a group of kids found a map containing the location of a pirate treasure. Brothers Mikey (Sean Astin) and Brand (Josh Brolin) had a week before their family were forced to move because their parents could no longer afford their home. But when Data (Jonathan Ke Quan), Mouth (Corey Feldman) and Chunk (Jeff Cohen) agreed with Mikey to search for the mythical treasure for one last adventure, they stumbled upon the hiding place of three Italian criminals (Anne Ramsey, Joe Pantoliano, Robert David) on the run from the cops. Their hiding place contained a secret passageway that led to an underground cave that housed the legendary pirate ship. “The Goonies” would appeal to kids because they would most likely be able relate to the characters’ silliness and quirkiness, the soundtrack was energetic, and it played upon the universal idea of children’s penchant for treasure hunting. Despite being a kid at heart, I wasn’t that entertained. There were far too many people in the cave. The two girls, Andy (Kerri Green) and Stef (Martha Plimpton), were completely unnecessary. The romance between Andy and Brand dragged the picture’s momentum. How could we root for their romance if they weren’t fully realized characters? The fact that the picture kept suggesting that there could be something between Andy, around sixteen years old, and Mikey, who was still in elementary school, was more awkward than funny, creepy than cute. I felt like the girls in the movie were added simply to appeal to the same sex. I wish they made their exit when they stumbled upon a well where three guys above could have taken them home. I grew tired of their whining. I enjoyed the film most when the guys accidentally triggered booby traps. It was like watching a light version of Steven Spielberg’s “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” exciting but we never truly felt that the characters were in any real danger. We were simply curious to see how the protagonists would adapt to the quickly changing environment. I did wish, however, that the criminals were more dangerous. Most of the time, they acted more like cartoon characters. I didn’t buy for one second that they were smart enough to pull off breaking someone out of jail as they did in the first scene. “The Goonies” wasn’t rich with subtlety. The child actors’ lines often felt forced and it was obvious when some of their lines were dubbed. They probably ran out of takes. Still, the movie was entertaining and charming in its own way. Based on Spielberg’s story, I couldn’t help but wonder how sharper and stronger it might have been under his direction.

5 replies »

    • Yeah, like “Fright Night.” lol. I mean, I’d rather show that movie to my future kids than “The Goonies.” The latter had its charming moments but some bits either just bored me or I found them trying so hard to convince us that what was being shown was an adventure. We needn’t be reminded so often.

  1. Franz,

    I was deeply disappointed by this film when I saw it for the first time earlier this year. I suppose at age 26, I’m a bit outside of the target demographic, but I still found it frequently annoying and stupid. The dialogue was not well-written enough (just imagine what someone like John Hughes could have done with something like this!), and the child actors’ performances were decidedly uneven. Corey Feldman will always have a place in my heart after Stand By Me, but he wasn’t given much to do here. And the bad guys… arrgh, they were soo annoying.

    I hope this is one of these films that you simply needed to be the right age in the 1980s to enjoy. If not, I cannot exactly understand why it has garnered the status it still enjoys, after 27 years.

    • Interesting John Hughes comment. I never thought about that.

      OK, I actually thought Feldman was perfectly cast. I can’t imagine anyone else being in his role. The bad guys, on the other hand, were so generic. They were so idiotic, not once did I find them threatening… even if they held a gun. That must mean something.

      • Franz,

        quickly on Feldman: I didn’t mean to suggest that he was bad or miscast, only that his role was kind of uninteresting. I think my biggest problem with this film was the trumped up expectations accumulated by people a couple of years older than me, who had fond memories of growing up with it. Nostalgia can seriously warp your critical senses. It took me many years to rewatch the Mighty Ducks movies, for instance, and realize that they are, ahem, not good. That said, I have deep respect for the power of nostalgia, and neither The Goonies nor the Duck movies are without some charms.

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