Americana Movie Month: "The Goonies" Review


Americana Movie Month: "The Goonies" Review

-- Rating: PG
Length: 114 minutes
Release Date: June 7, 1985
Directed By: Richard Donner
Genre: Adventure, Comedy, Family

The 1985 hit "The Goonies" captures the essence of childhood wonder and adventure. The movie takes the best of pirates, villains, and childhood friendship to weave a tale that has enthralled old and young alike.

In a story that is reminiscent of the 1934 movie"Mama's Little Pirate" from the "Our Gang" series, "The Goonies" revolves around a group of young friends from a suburban neighborhood in Oregon. One rainy day, the friends find an old newspaper clipping and a treasure map in the Walshes' creaky old attic. The map purportedly leads to a treasure that once belonged to a pirate named One-Eyed Willie.

Their reasons for going after the treasure involve more than just mere curiosity. Land developers who want to expand the nearby Astoria Country Club have painted a target on their neighborhood, and the kids are afraid their families will be forced to move, thus breaking up their close friendships. They believe that if they can only find the buried treasure, they can save their parents' homes from foreclosure and continue to lead the happy, carefree life they have always known.

The movie takes the audience through a thrill-seeking adventure that starts at a rundown waterfront restaurant. The group is unaware that a family of fugitives running from the law has taken over the building. The children soon figure out what is going on, and they send for help.

The map leads the children through an underground cavern, where they find their fair share of bats, caves, cobwebs, and booby traps before they eventually hit pay dirt and find One-Eyed Willie's old pirate ship. They are soon reunited with their parents, who no longer have to worry about losing their homes.

Steven Spielberg served as executive producer and wrote the story upon which the screenplay was based. This was one of Spielberg's earliest endeavors. While it didn't earn him any awards, it set the stage for his future successes. He went on to direct smash hits such as "Back to the Future," "The Color Purple," "Schindler's List," and "Saving Private Ryan."

One of the things that sets this movie apart is that it has a large cast of central characters, and each of them plays an important role in the film. Jonathan KeQuan plays Data, the masterful inventor. Sean Astin plays Mikey, who becomes the group's spiritual leader and thought provoker. Corey Feldman plays Mouth, the joker and wiseguy. Jeff Cohen as Chunk and a young Josh Brolin as Brand also turn in masterful performances.

Many of these young stars went on to bigger and better roles, thanks in part to the roles they played in this movie. Josh Brolin, for example, landed a part in the 1999 hit "The Mod Squad," as well as roles in "W.," "Milk," "Men in Black 3," and "True Grit." Corey Feldman starred in "Gremlins," "Stand by Me," and "The Lost Boys."

The movie went on to garner rave reviews and several awards. Anne Ramsey won a Saturn Award for Best Supporting Actress for her role as Mama Fratelli, and Sean Astin won a Young Artist Award for Best Starring Performance by a Young Actor for his role as Mikey. Jeff Cohen, Corey Feldman, and Martha Plimpton received Young Artist Award nominations, and Jeff Cohen also received a Saturn Award nomination for Best Performance by a Young Actor.

The movie's musical score is also top notch and utilizes music such as the theme from "The Adventures of Don Juan" to bring the pirate theme home. Other musical contributions were made by popular entertainers such as Cyndi Lauper and Richard Marx.

Despite the film being almost thirty years old, it still resonates with audiences today. There are some bits of humor that contemporary viewers may not understand, such as when the boys talk about playing the game Pole Position. Children of the twenty-first century may also not understand the absence of cell phones and iPods. However, the changes in lifestyle between 1985 and the present seem to melt away, because the basic premise of the movie captures a yearning that still lives in the hearts of children-going on an adventure to find a buried pirate's treasure.

Although the film does use profanity and some racist innuendo here and there to get laughs, most viewers are able to overlook these flaws. "The Goonies" is an escape that lets the audiences of all ages live their childhood dreams. The film has become a classic that is almost looked upon as a preadolescent version of the "Indiana Jones" movies.

Rating: 4 out of 5