'The Goonies' Review: How Had I Never Seen This?
We are halfway through Reader's Submission month, and I've had the great fortune of watching only great movies, like The Goonies. I'm not sure how I hadn't seen this movie until today, but I'm kinda disappointed that it took me this long to watch this film, since it shares so much with the Indiana Jones franchise. It is essentially Indiana Jones for young adults, and that is not a knock at the film in the slightest.
The film follows the exploits of the Goonies, a ragtag bunch of kids who live in the Goon Dock area of Astoria, Oregon, as they try to uncover the treasure of the hilariously named One-Eyed Willie and save their home. One-Eyed Willie was an infamous pirate who's missing treasure was a thing of myth for the children of the Goon Docks, long believed to be just a legend. However, once one of them finds a treasure map hidden in an attic, the adventure is on. The hunt for One-Eyed Willie's treasure takes them from an abandoned restaurant hideout for criminals to deep under the Goon Docks, where they navigate a pirate labyrinth in the search for the treasure. It clearly takes influence from Indiana Jones, but in the best way possible.
The real highlight of the film is the cast, which manages to not make children obnoxious, as most films do. The main cast features Sean Astin, Corey Feldman, Jonathan Ke Quan, and Josh Brolin, along with Joe Pantoliano and Robert Davi playing the bad guys. Almost thirty years later, it's pure nostalgia to see a young Sean Astin and Josh Brolin playing brothers while knowing that the two would later be part of some of the biggest franchises in movie history. They are not only believable as the Walsh brothers, but have fantastic on-screen chemistry. It was also nice to see Jonathan Ke Quan, who played Short Round in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, as he almost steals the movie as the gadget-loving Data. He is essentially riffing on his Short Round character, and it's too bad his career never took off.
Corey Feldman rounds out the recognizable child actors playing Clark, otherwise known as "Mouth" because he has the tendency to get in trouble with his verbal quips. I have a hard time not hearing Donatello from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles every time I hear Feldman's voice. He has some of the funnier scenes in the movie, especially when he is asked to translate Spanish with the Walsh's house cleaner. Pantoliano and Davi are entertaining as the inept Fratelli brothers, getting roped into the search for the treasure by accident. The two are funnier than they should have been, and are pretty humorous every time they are on screen. I don't know why, but Roberto Davi breaking into song in Italian is hilarious as fuck for some reason.
The action in the film further reinforces the Indiana Jones connection. The underground scenes are very reminiscent of the beginning of Raiders of the Lost Ark, especially regarding the booby traps set by the pirates. While I wish there was more of the underground portion, the mystery aspect of the film totally makes up for it. The Goonies spend most of the film hunting down clues and following the map to the treasure. It wouldn't work if all the of the characters weren't so likable, but they work so well together it makes the mystery scenes great.
The only issue I had with the film was with two characters in the film: Chunk and Sloth. Chunk, played by Jeff Cohen, is the stereotypical fat kid of the group who is not only a klutz, but also only thinks about food. It's a dumb characterization that doesn't mesh well with the otherwise smart writing from Chris Columbus and Steven Spielberg. We get it, he's fat, move on. Being fat isn't a characterization, it's a physical trait. While I found Chunk to be mildly obnoxious, he wasn't nearly as unsettling as Sloth. Sloth is the possibly mutated, possibly inbred third brother of the Fratellis who Chunk helps escape from his shackles. There is never an explanation as to why he looks the way he does, but he doesn't fit in well with the rest of the film, and his physical appearance is unsettling to say the least.
The Goonies is one of those films I'm genuinely surprised that it took me as long as it did to watch it. It has a great cast along with a really well-written script. Aside from the strange addition of Sloth and the grating Chunk, the film has that Spielbergian touch to it that only Steven Spielberg can bring to a movie. If you're a fan of the Indiana Jones franchise or just of comedy-adventure, than check it out.
Final Say: Watch It