Directed By: Richard Donner
Starring: Sean Astin, Josh Brolin, Jeff Cohen
Tag line: "The pirates map, The villainous crooks, The underground caverns, The booby traps, the skeletons, The monster, the lost treasure, and the magic that is... THE GOONIES"
Trivia: The pirate ship was entirely real. All the shots were filmed in the ship. After the film, it was offered to anyone who would take it. No one wanted it, so the ship was scrapped
The Goonies is an ‘80s adventure flick filled with exaggerated characters, outlandish situations, and occasionally crude humor that stretches the boundaries of family entertainment to their breaking point. It’s also one of the all-time great kid’s films, and a movie I love a little more every time I see it.
A small neighborhood in Astoria, Oregon, known as “The Goondocks” to local residents, is in danger of being torn down by a greedy millionaire (who needs the land for his posh new golf course). For Mikey Walsh (Sean Astin) and his older brother Brand (Josh Brolin), the thought of losing their family home is almost too much to bear. Mikey’s closest friends, Mouth (Corey Feldman), Chunk (Jeff Cohen) and Data (Jonathan Ke Quan) are in the same boat as he is, and barring some miracle, this unique group of pals, who call themselves “The Goonies”, will be torn apart forever.
Then, out of the blue, the miracle they need falls into their laps. While looking through the artifacts that his father (Keith Walker), a museum curator, is storing in their attic, Mikey discovers an old treasure map that once belonged to One-Eyed Willy, an infamous pirate who, according to legend, buried a fortune in gold somewhere nearby. Figuring they could use the money to save their homes, the Goonies, joined by Stef (Martha Plimpton) and Andy (Kerri Green), begin what will prove to be a wild adventure. As if finding the loot wasn’t difficult enough (to protect his fortune, One-Eyed Willy set up a number of sophisticated booby traps), Mikey and his pals must deal with Ma Fratelli (Anne Ramsay) and her sons Jake (Robert Davi) and Francis (Joe Pantoliano), a trio of wanted criminals who have also set their sights on the treasure. Throw in Ma Fratelli’s mutated son Sloth (John Matuszak), who she keeps chained up in a small cell, and you have the makings of a crazy, and altogether fun, motion picture.
Based on the opening scenes alone, it’s obvious the Goonies aren’t your average bunch of kids. Mikey, the unofficial leader of the group, is an eternal optimist as well as a dreamer, and is convinced there’s a boatload of treasure just waiting to be found. Corey Feldman’s Mouth is a troublemaker; when asked by Mrs. Walsh (Mary Ellen Trainor) to translate her instructions to their new Spanish-speaking assistant, Rosalita (Lupe Ontiveros), Mouth instead convinces the poor woman that her employers are drug-addicted sex fiends. Chunk is clumsy, often breaking whatever he decides to pick up; and Data, who likes to invent different gadgets, fancies himself the next James Bond (he makes his grand entrance by gliding down a wire strung between his house and Mikey’s). Sure, they’re all strange, and, like every other character in this movie, a bit over-the-top, but we root for them all the same. As for the humor, it’s sometimes too risqué for a family film (while at the Walsh’s, Chunk drops a two-foot-high replica of Michelangelo’s David, breaking off the penis, which, according to Mikey, was his mother’s “favorite part”), yet is guaranteed to make you laugh.
Where The Goonies truly excels, though, is in its adventure sequences, which fill a good portion of the movie. While exploring the underground caverns they believe will lead them to One-Eyed Willy’s booty, the Goonies encounter all sorts of dangers, including bats, booby traps (some are pretty clever), and, of course, the Fratellis, who are always a few paces behind them. Each and every turn they make results in another fun action scene, and the group even manages to uncover some amazing things along the way (like what happens to coins when they’re dropped down a wishing well). The set pieces, most of which were built on sound stages, are incredible, as is the make-up that transformed former all-pro football player John Matuszak into the lovable Sloth, who, though a tad creepy (his left eye looks as if it melted halfway down his face), is a useful ally.
With its fast pace and steady stream of unlikely situations, The Goonies was clearly geared towards kids, and may prove a bit too frantic for older viewers. But for those of us who saw it at an impressionable age, The Goonies will always hold a special place in our hearts.