andy, anne ramsey, beaver cleaver, brand, charlie sheen, chris columbus, chunk, corey feldman, cyndi lauper, data, don't break the team, eddie haskell, fratellis, goon docks, goonies r good enough, gremlins, harry potter, home alone, jeff cohen, joe pantoliano, john matuszak, josh brolin, ke huy quan, kerri green, lethal weapon, martha plimpton, mikey, mouth, one-eyed willie, richard donner, robert davi, rocky road, sean aston, sloth, stef, steven spielberg, superman, the goonies, treasure, truffle shuffle, winning
This past weekend I introduced my two sons, ages 6 and 8, to The Goonies for the first time. This was a pretty big moment for me as it is one of my all-time favorite movies and I wanted them to love it as much as I did when I saw it 28 years ago. It’s no surprise that they did and I had hoped that their love of the movie was for the same reasons that I loved it and still love it. Funny enough, when I queried them about it, here were five of their responses:
1) There was a gun in it and Francis Fratelli got bitten in the junk with Data’s “pinchers of power.”
To explain – my wife and I try to keep exposure to violence and the mechanisms of violence at a minimum so anytime a gun makes an appearance, the boys love it if for nothing other than to piss us off. They learn that trick quite early. And since my sons are boys, anything having to do with private parts is funny. Very funny, in fact. Sadly, this is one thing that doesn’t really change as you get older.
2) Chunk is funny. Data has cool inventions.
Yes he is, although I have been asked to do the Truffle Shuffle more times than I ever hoped to be asked. This is why I was at the gym at 9:30 p.m. last night.
Can’t wait for the crazy ass inventions I come home to while the kids are on summer break. No doubt the bulk of them will be made in some effort to bring pain to my person.
3) Sloth is cool. Can he live with us?
Sure. As long as he brings the Rocky Road.
4) The water slide looked fun and they wished they could ride on it.
My youngest refused to ride the water slide at the public pool by himself just yesterday. Sigh.
5) They could use all that treasure to buy all of the stuffed animals, Angry Birds, Just Dance video games and candy they want. Oh, and their own laptops so they watch YouTube videos of Annoying Orange.
Fair enough. Hard to argue with that.
So, not quite what I was hoping, but I have high hopes that their impressions and takeaways from the film will evolve over time. With that said, here are my impressions 28 years later and five reasons why I think this film still endures (with five badass posters to boot):
The Goonies is a movie that you can’t help but to love because it appeals to the very essence of what youth is all about – anything in your wildest dreams is possible. It should be no surprise to anyone when I say I’m not the biggest Steven Spielberg fan. However, his participation in this project is one the few saving graces of his career, in my opinion. It suits him when he taps into his more nostalgic side. His films are more successful in my book when he does this. Take the first three Indiana Jones as a good example (despite George Lucas‘ involvement). The absence of his played-out “father-figure” is one of the films strengths. That it was directed by high-octane action director Richard Donner (first two Christopher Reeve Superman movies and the entire Lethal Weapon franchise) was an interesting choice, and a successful one, surprisingly. And with Chris Columbus, the man who wrote Gremlins (and would later direct the first two Home Alone and Harry Potter films) writing the script, its pedigree was good to start. So here we go…
5) Kids can get shit done without their pesky ass parents getting in the way
We all remember being kids and not getting to do something because we weren’t “old enough,” right? As if when a certain age hits, you are freed of the bonds of whatever was keeping you from a certain task or experience because of that age. So, in the context of this film, Mikey’s dad staying up to all hours trying to figure out a way for them and the other families living in the Goon Docks to remain in the face of foreclosure showed no results. It was the kids on this crazy ass adventure utilizing material that was already at the hands of the adults who overlooked it that saved the day. What is a more satisfying way to say “fuck you” (relatively speaking) to people who keep you from doing things just because of your age? Suck it, parents. That the kids were able to stick it to rich assholes in the same process is a double win.
4) Being a little brother sometimes is cooler than being the older one
Mikey (Sean Astin) is the driver of the story. It’s his decision, along with friends Mouth (pre-heroin Corey Feldman), Data (Ke Huy Quan) and Chunk (Jeff Cohen), that sets the whole series of events of the film in order. Despite being an asthmatic, Mikey frequently bests his more able-bodied, albeit screw-up of a big brother, Brandon (Josh Brolin), a win for all little brothers out there.
I have an older brother with whom I’ve always had a fantastic relationship never having but minimal problems with him throughout our lives. I suspect I’m in the minority there. However, that the little brother wins in this film never escaped me because it was always a pleasure to defeat the Golden Boy of our family when I did. No doubt he would say something about the rare occasion that it actually happened. Sure Brandon gets the girl in the end, but Mikey smooched her first AND found the treasure. To quote Charlie Sheen – WINNING.
3) The kids in this movie act like real kids and are relatable
One of the things I had to watch with this movie was the fair amount of swearing in this movie. While my children have been subjected to these words before, usually when my crotchety ass father is around or when I’m driving, hearing other kids relatively close in age to them is different. But in this movie, the filmmakers didn’t give us the standard white-washed, idealized Disney version of childhood where kids talk and act more like Beaver Cleaver, submissive and obedient, than Chunk Or Mouth. The kids in this movie speak like kids did when I was growing up, especially when out of earshot of their parents. That they disobey and are skeptical of as well as speak in ways that mimic their parents rings is honest, even to a 10-year old watching in a theater in 1985.
Another key to these kids is that they very relatable in the sense that it’s likely that we had similar examples in our own friend groups as kids. There were certainly cheeky kids who resembled Mouth in their own Eddie Haskell-ish ways – sweet to our moms, but loudmouth troublemakers.
Everyone knew the pathological liar, perhaps even keeping them around to see what sheer nonsense they would make up next. And we all had friends with crazy ass ideas and the ability to get us all in trouble. These archetypes are fairly universal and the filmmakers employed them with great execution.
2) Friendship trumps all
As a kid, the one thing that is more important than anything else outside of your parents is your friends. They give you affirmation that you belong to something, a group, and give you some sort of identity. They are your sounding boards, your shoulders to cry on, your hecklers, your champions. In short, they are a separate, but equal family. I know this was and is the case for me still. And The Goonies represent this to the fullest. All of them are in the same situation – facing foreclosure and the threat that they will all be separated. So what do they do? One last adventure together, one last chance to stick their necks out for one another, laying it all on the line in the hopes that they can somehow make it so this assumed separation will not happen by getting each others’ backs.
My friends and I had a series of Cardinal Rules and the overarching rule that superseded all was Don’t Break the Team, meaning never sell out your friends. Pretty solid lesson to learn as a kid, methinks. The Goonies has this in spades.
Perhaps this is the one thing that we lose as we transition into adulthood and settle into the humdrum of our professional and family lives. Growing more content with our bevy of technology making everyday tasks easier by the day, we don’t capitalize on our newly acquired time. We instead are content to keep our eyes pasted to the multitude of screens that surround us, mostly our smartphones. This movie really captures the lifeblood that is youth – each day brings a new adventure and it reminds us to perhaps exploit that as much as we can.
I put watching this film with my boys very high on my list of my favorite film-related experiences of all-time, because I literally felt I was sharing my childhood with them and they embraced it. Now we have that in common. I could see in them the same excitement that I had in watching The Goonies when it first came out. What’s more exciting to kids like mine at their age than looking for and finding pirate treasure? In fact, what more exciting to adults like me than finding pirate treasure? Not really anything. So it’s no wonder that this film still has relevance 28 years after it was released and will likely continue to do so for years to come. This is the wonderful thing about film – how the story and themes contained within a short 1-3 hour window can literally transcend time and era.
For you unfortunate souls who have never seen this classic, here’s the trailer:
And let’s not forget the awesome Cyndi Lauper video for the theme song: