"The Goonies" (1985) – Classic Movie Review

HEEEYYY, YOU GUUUYYYS!!!! I’m Tyler and to celebrate
the reopening of Princess Cinemas
in Uptown Waterloo,
I’m here to let you know that
“The Goonies” is NoPerfectMovie!
If you’re like me and you’ve never
seen “The Goonies” up until now, let me
tell you what it’s about;
The Goonies are a group of neighborhood
kids played by Sean Astin,
Josh Brolin, Corey Feldman, Jeff Cohen and Ke Huy Quan
who discover a treasure map in their
attic that discovers
two things; the booby-trapped fortress of
legendary pirate One-Eyed Willy
and the Fratelli crime family played by
Robert Davi, Joe Pantoliano and
Anne Ramsey who
chase after The Goonies in order to
claim One-Eyed Willy’s treasure for
themselves!
And yeah, I honestly
know absolutely nothing about 80s
coming-of-age movies other than
“Stand by Me”, I fucking love “Sand by Me”!
But I knew through watching reviews of other movies
like this that there came a trope where
these kids had one main personality
trait that made them interesting,
one common goal that set them out on
this quest in order to discover stuff-
“Stand by Me”, was discovering a dead
body but on the way, they were
also coming to terms with the rejection
that they face in their daily lives. With this movie
(even though it’s a year before), there are
some similarities where
they are going on this treasure hunt but
at the same time they’re also
confronting the possibility that they may never be
friends again because their neighborhood
is being foreclosed, they’re all going to
have to move and chances are
they’re not all going to move to the
exact same neighborhood so
there’s already some simple but very
effective stakes to this treasure hunt but from scene one, “The Goonies” has that rare feature of
being ahead of its time in regards to
its subject matter while also
paying tribute to classic cinema of the
Golden Age and you can thank
Steven Spielberg for his story and Chris Columbus for
his really well fleshed-out script for
it because watching a movie made in 1985
where kids casually curse up a storm while being
chased by criminals armed with pistols who
faked a suicide in order to bust out of
jail… that is literally the opening scene
which I did not expect from a lighthearted
slapstick comedy about a treasure hunt,
it just felt amazing and it
felt like seeing the profanity from the kids and
just how violent the villains can be gave
the movie this sense of
edginess and also the level of stakes
and tension that were
already present with the motives for
finding this treasure in the first place,
but the stakes only become higher when
they discover that the other people out
for treasure
are unbelievably crazy and
even though they’re bumbling, potentially
dangerous too.
But one thing that really surprised me
about how ahead of its time was was the
way that it comes up with a sense of humour
through pop culture references; we live in a time
where it’s remarkably easy to
reference a movie or TV show from
a few years ago and
people are gonna laugh because they know
what the movie or show is,
and even though “The Goonies” does the
exact same thing, it does it in a way
that actually
(in a strange but still kind of subtle way)
enhances the characters and their
actions during certain scenarios-
especially this big entrance where Sloth comes in
wearing a Superman T-shirt and the fact that
this movie is directed by Richard Donner who
directed the first two “Supermans”…
technically,
that already is a really cool easter egg-as is
a reference to another Chris Columbus
script about a group of animals who
turn evil when you splash water on them…
I think I might have been the only one
in my theatre who understood that because
they were mostly
families and kids, I’m not entirely sure
but
the Richard Donner “Superman” reference,
it’s not funny just because
the guy who directed “Superman” directed
“The Goonies”, it’s funny because
the arc that Sloth went through as a
character where he
sums up the courage to stand up for
himself, stand up against this family
and in the process learn to stand up for
other people who are smaller and weaker
than him, once you see the “Superman”
T-shirt on him you actually feel
as empowered as he does as a character!
And while we’re still on the subject
of Richard Donner, it’s a tricky thing to
sum up the direction of this movie and
who’s really
to take credit for because many people
(Sean Astin
in particular) have pointed out that
Donner and Spielberg might as well have
been co-directors because Spielberg stuck his
nose into it the exact same way he stuck
his nose into “Poltergeist” but I mean…
we got good results with “Poltergeist” so I’m not really
complaining on that end, and there are
moments where you can definitely tell it
was mainly Spielberg who directed it-
namely through
the cinematography. It features a lot of
“Spielberg oners” that you hear about on
“Every Frame a Painting” where
you have multiple camera-setups and
shots to mask the fact that it’s a
minute or two long,
long take that’s there to cover an
entire scene in a single shot while also
keeping the pace moving very nicely and
those parts are
absolutely effective but looking at the
two of their filmographies,
I feel like there are still qualities
that they share equally, namely
how great the practical effects are in
this movie that make the
adventure scenes & the tension and
suspense feel a lot more natural!
Whenever they’re in this lair, there’s
so many full-scale models-
in particular this pirate ship that they
have to go through to get to the treasure.
The kids were so
blown away on screen when they see the
ship for the first time and that’s because
the crew was actually holding back on
them to make sure that they were giving
good performances, and then rewarding
them with
seeing that giant set for the first time
and just be like “Wow, we actually
get to go into this really cool ship”?
Full of real-life skulls because
One-Eyed Willy’s skull was
actually real, apparently…
that was a minor fact I heard of when I looked this stuff up but
yeah, you have practical sets, you have
scale models, whenever they’re trying to
evade the booby traps they obviously
can’t do
a hundred percent practical stunts like
they did with the original “Indiana Jones”
movie so instead they use
matte paintings to cover some of the
backgrounds or whenever
characters fall through a trap door or
something like that, and even though
the matte paintings themselves do look
kind of dated it has that “It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World” quality where the dated
effects still feel a lot more tangible and it
feels like the child actors can actually interact off of them, my favourite scene in particular being
this water current that the kids ride
like a water slide! That was a really
excellent sequence, love the PoV shots
that were shot in longer takes to make
us feel like we were really along for the ride…
I’m wondering if this was a Universal theme
park ride or something because
if it was, I missed it when I went there
for myself!
But i like to think that the one quality
that might be exclusively Richard Donner’s-
and this was
the directing technique that I loved
the most about this movie
was the lighting and the contrast of
dark shadows;
as these kids grow closer & closer
through the Fratelli’s lair and the hidden treasure,
they’re surrounded by these
dim, dark shadows as they’re running out
of light and they’re not entirely sure
if they’re walking around in circles or
if they’re getting closer to the treasure.
Same thing with the Fratellis-as they’re
lurking about in their lair, as these
kids are spying on them and discovering
how poorly they treat Sloth but also as
these villains grow
closer to threatening the kids,
they’re also covered by
these film noir-esque silhouettes and
shadows that really give the movie the element of
suspense & tension that it needs
but it also elevates the humor because
as you’re watching a suspenseful scene
the build up is so good and then
when the payoff is a quirky joke or
a slapstick gag,
the jokes and gags themselves still
really work because the kids
time them perfectly and deliver them
perfectly that
it doesn’t feel like wasted build up!
But let’s get to the one thing in particular
that you’re probably wondering how
I feel about the most,
The Goonies themselves! As someone who
watched it for the first time without
any nostalgia towards the kids in these
movies or the characters,
it’s really going to come down to
two things whether or not you like these
characters;
do you like the main character trait
about them that makes them
interesting and likeable? And are you
perfectly okay with how much screen time
they get because,
that’s the main issue that i have with
“The Goonies”,
the kids themselves each of them has an
uneven amount of screen time when you
compare one to another. There are so many
scenes where
Mikey or Chunk are the main focus of the scene,
and then you have characters like
Corey Feldman, Ke Huy Quan or these two girls that
team up midway through the movie that
really don’t get that much character
development, don’t really get that many
good jokes-they’re kind of just there to
stand in the background and do a lot of
excessive screaming
because of how dangerous each scenario
is getting and it’s not like
they couldn’t be afraid of these
scenarios, but you can only listen to
kids scream on end for a long enough amount of time-
especially short round from “Temple of Doom”
because that was the thing I was
really afraid of the most and not only that, as strange as I just
pointed out how kids infrequently get
screen time or character development,
I’d say the kids themselves get more
time to be
heroes than the villains do to be bad
guys or to be completely
clumsy & foolish bad guys because I like the Fratellis; they have this
Beagle Boys scenario
where the sons are bumbling idiots who
just fight over each other and
Anne Ramsey as Mama Fratelli is
basically Ma Beagle-she’s the brains
and the brawn of the group, let’s be
completely honest about that. And Anne Ramsey did have plenty of good moments
to be creepy & funny
and Robert Davi had potential, I like
the one bit where he just
brags about being an opera singer while
he’s doing misdeeds and I felt like they
could have done that more and more and
he would have been so much more funny!
and Joe Pantoliano, I love Joe Pantoliano,
he was one of the best characters in
“The Sopranos”!
Not the most likeable, but one of the best!
I can’t even really describe him as
a character other than like any other
movie, he has a toupee that he rips off
and screams a lot-if I’m being honest,
I laughed at him more in “Baby’s Day Out” and
“Baby’s Day Out” was a piece of shit! But
nevertheless, the kids themselves (even
though they do have an uneven amount of
time),
each Goonie in particular has likeable
personalities and an identifiable
motivation-trying to save their home
from foreclosure,
trying to stay friends with each other,
that makes it easy to latch onto them
and they each have
individual moments where you do wish you
got to spend more time with them!
And the one thing that was great about
these characters is that they each have
particular
skills that they usually take for
granted in their daily lives, but once
they go on this treasure hunt and these
skills
save them from near-death experiences, they feel a lot
more confident about themselves and their
abilities and their friendships with each other!
Like Corey Feldman as Mouth; his fluency
in Spanish he only used to
fuck with people when they had no idea
what he was talking about,
the one scene that everyone does
remember where he uses Spanish in a
misleading way…
would not make it into a movie nowadays
but it’s not really as
awkward as it sounds plus, he’s a
disobedient kid what do you expect him
to do?
But since the treasure map that they
have is in Spanish and the clues in the
lair are Spanish, he has to translate
them fluently
and he has to kind of be the guide once
in a while but he is really effective in that!
Like I said before, not really a fan of
Ke Huy Quan in “Temple of Doom” and I was
completely surprised that he might have
actually been my favourite character in
this movie just because
I love the way he imagines himself as
James Bond through these Rube Goldberg
devices that he comes up with and
since Chris Columbus wrote this movie, it
does have a “Home Alone” feel
to each device being treated as a
slapstick gag! They were so creative,
they were so
perfectly timed, I wanted more gags
like that but,
at the same time the less gags are in
there actually makes me
appreciate them more so in the end it
all works out.
I would’ve liked more of Corey Feldman
and Ke Huy Quan more than
Sean Astin as the main kid because one
thing i’ve heard about
in 80s coming of age flicks is that
a group of boys is usually led by
the average shy, optimistic kid who’s
there to give motivational speeches
whenever they’re down and
it kind of worked with Will Wheaton in
“Stand by Me” but that’s because
his speeches weren’t sappy. I had no problem with
Sean Astin’s performance even though
he was probably the corniest out of them-
I don’t blame him for it, I blame the
script for making his character so overly
sentimental and not really giving
Josh Brolin (who is still really good in
the movie) that much meat either because
I like Josh Brolin,
the fact that you keep mistaking Robert Davi for
Josh Brolin just because he really does
look like future Josh Brolin…
it’s insane-the fact that you don’t recognize
him actually makes his character a lot
more interesting and he’s the type of
older brother who
does love his younger sibling and would
do anything for him, but as he spends
more time with this girl who tags up halfway,
you really feel for him because
he wants to have
some time of his own independent to his
family and just with his friends,
a girlfriend in particular
and that was also a very simple but
identifiable motivation.
And even though he might have been in it
for way too much,
Jeff Cohen (in his only film performance)
as Chunk was actually really funny! I kind of
tend to be a sucker for the fat kid trope in 80s
movies where they’re a complete pussy
but they’re forced to go into dangerous
situations and become
a brave kid in the process, kind of like
with Jerry O’Connell…
again, in “Stand by Me” but with Chunk,
the genuine friendship that he built with
Sloth in a very short amount of time
because honestly, with the way “Hey you guys” is
quoted all the time, I thought that Sloth
was going to be
in it a lot more but again, as is Sloth’s
moments-who’s played by…
let me see if i can get this name right
because unfortunately he
passed on shortly after this… John
Matuszak… sorry if i got that wrong.
Really good performance as Sloth, really
good prosthetic
makeup for the character design-it was
really authentic!
The genuine friendship between
Chunk & Sloth really comes down from
the fact that the two of them do need to
learn to stand up for themselves,
they need to learn how to
stand up for their their closest friends
and that’s what made
their arcs feel the most genuine and the
most earned! So all in all,
“The Goonies” is a cult classic
for damn good reason; the characters are
all really likeable, the jokes
are so perfectly timed and delivered
that they (for the most part) land
and the themes of children sticking
together and
making their friendships last as long as possible-not by
hoping & praying for something
fortunate to happen but by
setting out to make the difference for
themselves, was all very identifiable.
I kind of wish that each kid kind of
stood out equally as opposed to one
standing up over the other and I do wish
the villains had more time to be
bumbling idiots-have that Joe Pesci and
Daniel Stern thing in “Home Alone” where
they did have a lot of time
to be bumbling idiots but as is,
“The Goonies”
is still a very good uplifting, cheesy
80s movie and for all those reasons, I’m gonna give
“The Goonies” 4/5
Guys, thanks as always for watching!
If you have seen “The Goonies”, you more than likely have-you’re probably
gonna go in the comments saying “You’ve
only seen it now? What the fuck were you thinking?!”
Well, I was a very insecure kid and I was
a little too afraid of Sloth… I didn’t-
I didn’t realize things back then, okay?!
I’ve gotten better at it now!
Be sure to stay tuned for more
Studio Ghibli reviews and be sure to like and subscribe!
Take care!

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