The Goonies (1985)
The Goonies (1985)

Genre: Adventure and Comedy Running Time: 1 hr. 54 min.

Release Date: June 7th, 1985 MPAA Rating: PG

Director: Richard Donner Actors: Sean Astin, Josh Brolin, Jeff Cohen, Corey Feldman, Kerri Green, Martha Plimpton, Ke Huy Quan, John Matuszak, Robert Davi, Joe Pantoliano, Anne Ramsey, Mary Ellen Trainor




t the county jail in Astoria, Oregon, Jake (Robert Davi) breaks out to the getaway crew of his brother Francis (Joe Pantoliano) and Mama Fratelli (Anne Ramsey), who drive off in action-movie style as the cops give a boisterous pursuit. Meanwhile, kids Mikey Walsh (Sean Astin), Clark “Mouth” (Corey Feldman), Brandon “Brand” (Josh Brolin), and Lawrence “Chunk” (Jeff Cohen) hang out at their house, trying – and failing – to stay out of trouble. Data (Ke Huy Quan) also shows up – using a zipline like James Bond (accompanied, of course by 007’s theme music) – just before Mikey’s mother (Mary Ellen Trainor) and her new maid Rosalita (Lupe Ontiveros) show up. But a momentary appearance by adults doesn’t stop the youths from screwing around and finding their way into the attic, a trove of curious miscellany.

When they stumble upon a map that seemingly leads to One-Eyed Willy’s lost pirate treasure from 1632, the ragtag friends – adopting the name “Goonies” – determine to find it and get rich (or to pay all of their parents’ bills). Their hunt (initiated by tying up Brand, who was left in charge) leads them to a dilapidated lounge at the edge of town, where the Fratellis have holed up (and stashed a body). Soon caught up to by Brand, and joined by girls Andy (Kerri Green) and Stef (Martha Plimpton), they bravely quest after the lost fortune – through and under the property, riddled with watery traps, sticky cobweb, and slithering insects – like adventure-seeking archeologists (or the swashbuckling likes of Peter Pan or Captain Blood).

What could have been construed as a serious, dark crime drama is immediately established as fun-loving, Spielbergian fare, thanks to the sensational, uplifting music by Dave Grusin. “The Goonies” is something of a rare collaboration between extraordinary filmmakers, each one imparting creativity and style of different brands (before then branching off into additional genres and becoming prolific individually). Together, writers Steven Spielberg and Chris Columbus and director Richard Donner have crafted an unusually family-friendly, juvenilely adventurous epic of mischief and escapism. Adults are the villains, authority figures meet comical demises, real danger is largely absent, and supervision is at a minimum. Additionally, the central characters are self-proclaimed rejects and excel in Rube Goldbergian inventions – hallmarks of the knowledgeably childish perspectives of the artists at work. There’s even time for youthful romance. Plus, the crooks are just inept enough (like the thugs from “Home Alone”) that none of their stalkings are all that intimidating.

“Kids suck.” In the world of “The Goonies,” adults aren’t just adversaries – they’re monsters. But no matter how scary, there’s an undeniable levity in both the protagonists’ actions and predicaments. There’s sarcasm (the gang shouts over themselves with so much hilarious babbling that it’s occasionally difficult to sort out all the jokes) and comedy to lighten the scenarios, even when – with a bit more realism – there should only be screams or silence. Jump scares, dead bodies, booby traps, and other mildly frightening images are just as tinged with humor, even when it comes in the form of a deformed giant (John Matuszak as Sloth, in now iconic makeup), or in harrowing traipses across narrow obstacles. In many ways, “The Goonies” resembles a younger take on the adventures of Indiana Jones – as if a preparatory piece for the opening moments of “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade” four years later. Reveling in humorous mayhem, ceaseless excitement, and an uncommon sensibility when it comes to childlike wonderment, “The Goonies” is an impressively well-balanced project, even when certain moments betray the moderately unpolished origins of concepts that would be revamped and reused to better effect in subsequent pictures.

– Mike Massie

  • 9/10