Just forget the words and sing along

Thursday, May 02, 2019

Fishing in the Discount Bin - The Goonies

Here we go again on Fishing in the Discount Bin.  I watch a movie I own and blog about it.  You know the drill by now.  Tonight, we do the 1980s classic The Goonies.  This is in my notes at February 16, 2019.

Well, it's that magical time of year.  It's when I take all the DVDs and Blu-Rays I've acquired over the past year, and move them from stacks on my coffee table and file them away on my shelves.  This usually results in re-organizing things and upending a whole bunch of movies.  In that upending, I pulled aside The Goonies, and it's been in a highly visible location ever since.  I decided to watch it again tonight, and after a quick google of my blog, discovered I'd never written it up before.  Which is weird.  I remember buying it on DVD some seven or eight years ago specifically to write it up for this blog.  I remember I'd just gotten my Blu-Ray player, and it was released on Blu-Ray, like, two weeks after I'd bought the DVD, so I was very disappointed I didn't get it in hi-def.  I remember sitting down to watch it some seven or eight years ago, but then I got called back into work, and was the crisis was resolved, the mood was gone.  So it's time to watch it and write it up.

I had a weird relationship with The Goonies for a while.  I remember watching it when I was a kid.  For a while there in the late-1980s, it was a VHS mainstay at slumber parties.  I remember getting a lot of the trading cards for some reason.  When I got to college, I'd look up movies on the then-new Internet, and started discovering that The Goonies had a bit of a cult following among people of my generation.  But whenever I'd bring it up in conversation, my friends had never heard of it.  I showed it to them on VHS one night, only for one to specifically call it dumb.  That was a little bit heartbreaking.  Was I wrong to like The Goonies?  Shortly after college, I had a co-worker who proudly showed me his vacation photos from the town of Astoria, Oregon, where The Goonies was filmed, and a lot of them had him proudly standing in front of many of the film's locations.  So I wasn't crazy.  There are people out there who like The Goonies

Maybe my friends who wrote off the film would be more open it to it now.  This is exactly the kind of film that JJ Abrams' Super 8 and the hit TV show Stranger Things are trying to mimic.  Steven Spielberg kind of created the "kids off on an adventure" genre in the 1980s with E.T., and went on to dominate the field through his company Amblin Entertainment.  In fact, The Goonies is an Amblin Entertainment production, and Spielberg himself gets a "story by..." credit.  The screenplay was written by Chris Columbus, who went on to be a great director in his own right, giving us the first two Home Alone films and the first two Harry Potter films.  But for directing duties, Spielberg turned this over to the legendary Richard Donner, who gave us the first Superman film and the Lethal Weapon franchise. 

Some great young actors, too.  Sean Astin, now best known as Sam in Lord of the Rings, is our hero, Mikey.  Thanos himself, Josh Brollin, is his older brother Brandon.  They're both commiserating.  The bank is about to foreclose on their entire neighbourhood, and the ritzy country club already has designs on leveling it and expanding their golf course.  Mikey's friends soon start coming by for their final weekend together:  Mouth (Corey Feldman), the smartass, Chunk (Jeff Cohen), a hyperactive, accident-prone sort, and Data (Ke Hey Quan, aka Short Round from Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom), a kid who's obsessed with James Bond and has built himself a variety of James Bond-ish gadgets. 

Mikey's father is the curator of the local museum.  As they kids start screwing around in the attic, they find a few things that Mikey's dad has brought home from work, including an old treasure map.  There's a local legend that a pirate known as One-Eyed Willie left a buried treasure somewhere near the town back in the 17th century.  With a treasure map in hand, a local legend in their heads, and designs on saving their town, the Goonies head out to try to find the pirate treasure. 

(I should mention.  The neighbourhood the kids live in is called the Goondocks, hence the residents are known as "Goonies."  Roll credits!)

The treasure map leads them to an abandoned restaurant on the edge of town, which has become the hideout for the Fratelli gang, Ma Fratelli and her three sons:  Jake, Francis, and the deformed Sloth  The Goonies discover the Fratellis are running a counterfeiting operation out of the old restaurant, and wait for the Fratellis to leave.  While waiting, they're joined by Andy, Brandon's girlfriend, and her best friend Stef, who wind up coming along on the adventure.  Once the Fratellis leave, they search the restaurant, and find a hidden entrance to a series of underground tunnels.  They venture into the caves on the hunt for One-Eyed Willie's treasure, with the Fratellis giving chase!

At many times, our heroes feel like turning back, but Mikey presses on.  Mikey is the one who's clever enough to solve One-Eyed Willie's traps and puzzles, and he starts feeling a certain kinship with Willie.  One magical scene finds the Goonies at the bottom of a wishing well, and Mikey gives them the inspirational speech to move forward.

Yeah...I remember specifically back in college, that's where one of my friends threw up her hands and said, "OK, I'm out.  That speech was so stupid." 

But our heroes eventually make it to One-Eyed Willie's treasure...the entire pirate ship, still afloat in an underground cave.  Which leads to a great, swashbuckling final battle with the Fratellis. 

It's interesting watching it again tonight, when we've got things like Stranger Things attempting to revisit the formula.  There's more innocence in The Goonies, where as Stranger Things goes dark .  And it is the kind of kids film you could never make today.  The kids swear a lot.  There is a body count.  The Fratellis kill people.  A similar film these days would be much more sanitized...or it would go the other way, and be super dark and gritty. 

And I love the music, too.  It's another obscure film score I spent too much money for.  And I forgot how great the opening credits sequence is.  The Fratellis escape from prison, leading to a high speed chase through the town.  And we get to meet all our heroes as they watch the car chase. 

The Goonies is just a grand adventure, full of some great movie magic, and for every kid who's ever dreamed of having an adventure in their own backyard.  Give it a go.  I'm sure you'll like it.

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