The Goonies (1985) / Adventure-Comedy
MPAA Rated: PG for violence, language and some innuendo (probably PG-13 by today's standards)
Running Time: 114 min.
Cast: Sean Astin, Josh Brolin, Jeff Cohen, Corey Feldman, Jonathan Ke Quan, Kerri Green, Martha Plimpton, Anne Ramsey, John Matuszak, Robert Davi, Joe Pantoliano
Director: Richard Donner
Screenplay: Chris Columbus
Review published June 17, 2004
A huge fan favorite for those who watched this growing up, The Goonies makes up for its silly, predictable story and stereotypical characters by being a fun and imaginative old-school adventure, like Raiders of the Lost Ark aimed at adolescents. It's no surprise that Steven Spielberg produced this "young Indy" adventure, and also wrote the original story that would be used by Chris Columbus (Gremlins, Young Sherlock Holmes) for the screenplay. Further begging comparison, Jonathan Ke Quan (Second Time Around), who played Short Round in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, makes an appearance here as a similarly high-strung adventurer with a gift for gadgets.
It's an ensemble cast, but Sean Astin (Lord of the Rings, 50 First Dates) is the star by default, as the youngest of two brothers who are about to move from their home in Astoria because they lack the funds to stop a developer from taking over the area. This would end many friendships with the other children in the area, which they've dubbed the Goondocks, and their crew call themselves The Goonies, who are united in their quest for adventure and shenanigans. Things take an interesting turn when a map is discovered, which promises to lead to the secret fortune of the infamous One-eyed Willy, whose cache of jewels promises to make them rich beyond imagination. The gang end up finding the entrance to the caves where the loot is hidden, but a rival group of thieves threatens to get there first, and to kill anyone who gets in their way.
Although a bit potty-mouthed, The Goonies is an innocuously fun family adventure that delivers on entertainment, even though it doesn't really sparkle with smart dialogue or fresh developments. It's a little corny, a little contrived, and very cartoonish, but once you conclude that it plays mostly for laughs, you'll probably have no problem just accepting it for the silly adventure that it is and join in on the fun.
That's not to say it's a really good film, as the acting isn't stellar, and the screenwriting often encroaches into the realm of the corny, particularly when the Goonies need inspiring from one of Mikey's insipid pep speeches ("This is our time!", "Goonies never say die!"). There are some silly pieces, such as when the Goonies start tinkering with some pipes that causes havoc to the country club just above, and pretty much every gadget conjured up by Data is nothing more than a mini "deus ex machina" whenever the kids are stymied as to how to get out of a predicament.
Yet, for all of its flaws, The Goonies gains momentum from its charm and imagination, making this a popcorn movie favorite, especially for people who love the 80s. While I can't proclaim this as great as the Indiana Jones adventures, like Cyndi Lauper said in her song on the soundtrack, "The Goonies R Good Enough."
©2004 Vince Leo