This week’s pick is the adventure-comedy classic The Goonies (1985). Richard Donner (Superman I, II, Lethal Weapon series) and Steven Spielberg craft this cult classic, which has entertained countless fans for over twenty-five years.
The Goonies centers around a group of seven outcast teens from Astoria, Oregon whose homes are about to be demolished due to a real estate venture to expand the ritzy Astoria country club into their neighborhood. Facing their last weekend together, Mike Walsh (Sean Astin) and the rest of his friends rummage around his father’s attic and uncover a map, and a Spanish doubloon.
Mikey begins to tell the story of a Seventeenth Century Pirate known as One-Eyed Willie who stole a large assortment of treasure from the English back in 1632, and it was rumored to have been buried somewhere along their coastline. At first, Mikey’s friends seem reluctant to go on one last Goonie adventure but change their minds when they realize that if they were to find One-Eyed Willie’s treasure, they and their families wouldn’t have to leave Astoria.
Mikey, Data (Jonathan Ke Quan), Mouth (Corey Feldman), and Chunk (Jeff Cohen) tie up Brandon (Josh Brolin), Mikey’s older brother and head out on their bikes and use the map to find the location of the buried treasure somewhere nearby to the coast. The boys stumble across an old seaside tavern, which has been vacant for years, and the terrain fits the description on the map.
Upon further inspection of the grounds, the boys run into the Fratelli family, a gang of robbers who are using the abandoned tavern as a hideout and for counterfeiting. After their first run in with the Fratellis, they return and find out that the basement of the tavern is the entryway into a cavern that leads to One-Eyed Willie’s treasure. The gang sends their clumsy, yet lovable sidekick Chunk to go get the police and bring them back to the tavern, while the rest of them escape through the underground passage.
While the remaining six friends venture further into the series of tunnels that Willie and his men had dug, they encounter several booby traps that almost cost them their lives. In one scene, the gang encounters the corpse of famed treasure hunter Chester Copperpot who went missing in 1935 after a newspaper article stated he knew the location of Willie’s treasure. While looking through what’s left of his belongings, Mikey finds his wallet and his driver’s license, which confirms the man’s identity as Chester Copperpot.
Hot on the trail of the gang, is the Fratelli family who find out through Chunk who was later captured while trying to find help. Chunk is locked up in the basement with the other Fratelli family member, the disfigured Sloth who becomes friends with Chunk and the two also descend into the caverns to stop the Fratellis and save the rest of the Goonies.
The Goonies is a fantastic comedic action/adventure that is filled with endlessly quotable dialogue, and very likeable characters. One such character is that of Mouth (Feldman) who is a very intelligent wiseass that manages to always get the gang in trouble, yet speaks Spanish fluently and is able to translate the map during the adventure throughout the caves.
My second favorite character is Chunk (Jeff Cohen) who is a pathological liar and when trouble does happen, no one, not even the police will believe Chunk. Cohen has some of the best scene stealing dialogue throughout the whole movie. Some of these scenes are between he and Sloth (Former LA Raider football star John Matuszak) who introduce themselves while locked up in the Fratelli basement. Chunk offers Sloth a Baby Ruth candy bar and the two hit it off immediately.
The Goonies was a story written by Spielberg and the screenplay was adapted by future director Chris Columbus. Donner’s masterful direction style and his great relationship with the cast of young actors on the set made the film so much more enjoyable to shoot when principle photography began in October of 1984.
When the film debuted the next spring, it made over nine million dollars its first weekend. It would go on to gross over sixty one million dollars for the rest of 1985.
Donner and Spielberg have been saying for several years that there will be a sequel and that most of the original cast will return. Many of the actors have pledged to return, but there has been a lot of talk and Warner Brothers along with several other studios have expressed little interest in a sequel or any other type of adaptation. Donner says, “A Goonies sequel is definite. We’ve been trying for a number of years and Steven and I really want to bring in a new generation of fans.”
The Goonies is available on both DVD and Blu-Ray disc thru Warner Bros. Home Video and can be rented via Netflix.