- Movie Rating -

The Goonies (1985)

| June 7, 1985

Goonies seems to be the polite response to a lot of parents who had an axe to grind with Steven Spielberg over the face melting and heart-ripping in his Indiana Jones pictures.  The complaints, mixed with the series’ great success at the box office are an indication that such violent content was more concerning to the parents than to their kids.  Goonies is a movie with a lot of similar adventures though the violence is tamped way down, almost as if Spielberg listened, understood, and responded.

But that doesn’t mean that the movie isn’t a lot of fun.  I imagined that this was kind of an Indiana Jones adventure wherein the legendary archeologist was off somewhere else and The Little Rascals got involved in the hunt for buried treasure.  The tone is sort of the same.  You have a group of weird kids from the neighborhood, each with a different quirk – the fat kid, the sensitive kid, the wiseass, the gadget guy, the older brother, the girlfriend etc. – they all talk over each other, insult each other, like each other, and get involved in an adventure that could only be found in the movies.

This sounds like the recipe for chaos but it really is a lot of fun, opening up the kinds of adventures that kids might dream up and act out in their back yard.  The leader here is Mikey (Sean Astin) whose friends are wiseass Mouth (Corey Feldman), gadget obsessed Data (Ke Huy Quan), and overweight Chunk (Jeff Coen).  One day the kids are rummaging around in Mikey’s attic where they discover an old treasure map, which Mikey’s older brother Brand (Josh Brolin) deduces is the lost map to the treasure of the once-feared pirate One Eyed Willie.  When I heard that name, I was sure that parents would have something to complain about.

Anyway, the caves to reach the treasure involve going through the restaurant owned by Mama Fratelli (Anne Ramsey) who turns out to be a nefarious character with two sons who will give the kids a lot of trouble along the way.

The cave itself is kind of wonderful.  It’s not in any base of reality but seems like a set designers dream.  It’s all set with the kinds of booby traps – falling rocks, shootings spikes – that have been standard for the Indiana Jones pictures, and the kids find themselves in great peril several times.  What is interesting is that the movie walks a fairly thin line between implied danger and actual danger.  The scenes are just tense enough that you know the kids won’t get hurt, but you still tense up thinking that they might get hurt.  It’s all done with a high energy that keeps things moving and a sweetness that makes us root for the kids.

The movie is produced by Spielberg and directed by Richard Donner who made the first (and best) of the Superman movies and has since directed the wonderful LadyHawke.  He really has a sense of style and the movie is really a good collision of the frenetic energy of Spielberg and the more thoughtful stuff brought about by Donner.  It’s a good mixture.  The movie is a lot of fun.  It’s the kind of movie that is made for kids but doesn’t push older people away.  It’s an adventure, a good one.  Dr. Jones would have approved.

About the Author:

Jerry Roberts is a film critic and operator of two websites, Armchair Cinema and Armchair Oscars.
(1985) View IMDB Filed in: Action, Comedy