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The story of One-Eyed Willy’s hoard
Has haunted the dreams of the greedy and bored,
But, though men have suffered both peril and pain,
Their seeking and sneaking have all been in vain.

Until the momentous event heaven-sent
When a map was discovered by mere accident,
And a cluster of kids, their homes soon to be sold,
Endeavored to find Willy’s ill-gotten gold.

Through tunnels and traps only pirates would build,
The friends followed through, some alarmed and some thrilled.
While saving their home, all the Goonies, now grown,
Sought out golden legends and so wrote their own.

MPAA rating: PG (maybe PG-13)

The Goonies is a film I really wish I had seen when I was younger. I remember seeing it on the shelf at Blockbuster when I was a kid and never having enough interest to rent it, but I’ve been meaning to ever since. In fact, it probably would have been one of my Blindspot picks if I hadn’t caught it on TV at the end of 2016. Despite my late introduction to this beloved ‘80s flick, I still enjoyed it a lot, much in the way I enjoy YA books or cartoons that are clearly juvenile but still entertaining.

Of course, the biggest claim to fame that this Steven Spielberg/Chris Columbus story has is the talented cast of young stars-to-be, like The Outsiders, Stand By Me, or Red Dawn. Jonathan Ke Huy Quan may be otherwise known only as Short Round in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, but it’s a little surreal to see so many other well-known actors at the start of their careers, from Joe Pantoliano and Josh Brolin to Corey Feldman and cute little Sean Astin as Mikey Walsh. Little did they know at the time….

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The film starts out in fun fashion as a jailbreak orchestrated by the criminal Fratelli family triggers a car chase across town, whizzing past the main characters and introducing us one by one to the club of young Goonies and their individual quirks. To their dismay, their neighborhood is soon to be destroyed by an encroaching country club, and no one wants to see it saved as much as Mikey. When they find a hidden map in his attic that may lead to a lost pirate treasure, he convinces his pals to follow him. Joined later by Mikey’s brother Brand (Brolin) and his female friends (Kerri Green and Martha Plimpton), they discover more adventure and danger than they imagined, both from booby traps along the way and from the Fratellis hot on their trail.

I can imagine everyone having a favorite Goonie. Maybe someone loves Data (Quan) and his anti-bully inventions or poor chubby Chunk (Jeff Cohen) and his klutzy anxiety. I thought Corey Feldman as Mouth stole his scenes, and I especially loved his hilarious “translations” to the Walsh’s Spanish-speaking maid. Astin makes for a wholly likable leader of the bunch, and despite their eccentricities, it was neat how each of them got a moment to shine by using their unique skills. The traps they encounter are actually quite inventive and nail-biting in a Scooby-Doo sort of way, and though I’m not the first to notice this, the family dynamic of the Fratelli family reminded me of the air pirates in Castle in the Sky, headed by a mean and cantankerous mother (although Mama Fratelli is much meaner than Dola).

It did seem that the filmmakers were aiming for different age demographics depending on the scene. In some cases, the language and menace seem a bit much for young kids, and until the end, the Fratellis are more threatening than the cartoonish villains I expected. Other times, the danger devolves into juvenile panic, possibly stretching one’s patience for kids screaming at each other. I wasn’t much of a fan of Sloth, the deformed and simple-minded Fratelli brother whose presence seems pointless until needed by the plot, and the final confrontation with the Fratellis seemed rather poorly planned. I mean, one minute, the kids are being forced to walk the plank as if it’s some great peril, and the next, everyone’s jumping off as if it’s no big deal. Even so, the very end was heartwarming, despite the fact that no one seems eager to recover what’s disappearing in the distance.

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All in all, I’m glad I finally got to enjoy The Goonies, even without the nostalgia goggles with which all those children of the ‘80s view it. I can certainly understand it being a childhood favorite, and I suspect it would have been for me too, had I chanced to rent it from Blockbuster all those years ago. (Boy, I’m making myself sound old.) The Goonies may be a bit puerile at times, but its lovable cast of youngsters and adventurous spirit still make it a classic.

Best line: (Andy, trying to play a piano booby trap) “I can’t tell… if it’s an A sharp or if it’s a B flat!”   (Mikey) “Heh, if you hit the wrong note, we’ll all ‘B flat!’”


Rank: List Runner-Up


© 2017 S.G. Liput
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