johnlink ranks THE GOONIES (1985)

PRINCESS BRIDE. GHOST BUSTERS. WHO FRAMED ROGER RABBIT. These were the films of my youth. Then, when I hit middle school age, it was LION KING and ACE VENTURA and CITY SLICKERS. For whatever reason, GOONIES was never there. I think I may have stumbled in on a scene from f it when I was five, and the villainous mama scared the crap out of me to the point that I did not want to see it. I know a lot about the movie. I know the Truffle Shuffle and the treasure map and Sloth. I know Josh Brolin made his debut and Corey Feldman is annoying (though I didn’t know that Joe Pantoliano and his hairpiece were in it). I’ve seen many sections of it, I’ve even seen the climax. But watching it beginning to end? Never happened. Until last night…

I watched THE GOONIES (1985) on 5.31.12. It was my first viewing of the film.

There is always a danger, with this kind of film, of the nostalgia outweighing the actual value. I freely admit that my ranking of THE PRINCESS BRIDE was skewed by the hundreds of times I’d seen it. It’s nearly impossible for me to watch that movie objectively (not that film is an objective medium). So, to come to a 1985 film as I approach my 30th birthday, a movie which has a 7.6 ranking on IMDB and which is a top five favorite for so many people of my generation… well this is not an easy task.

Because, frankly, much of this movie is rough. The film has no sense of reality, with the entire premise being absolutely absurd. Short Round is some kind of inventor whose inventions disappear off his body when he doesn’t need them, but who can fall thirty feet down a tunnel and stop his fall with a pair of chattery teeth on a bungee cord. Reality? What reality?

Corey Feldman’s false tough guy act is just obnoxious. You come around to liking him by the end of the film, but his bullying and constant talking make you want to punch him in the face. The dialogue and the acting throughout is suspect, with the auxiliary characters being particularly rough.

Much of this movie sucks. It’s poorly acted, poorly written, haphazardly directed.

So why do I enjoy it so much?

I have no idea. No goddamn idea. It just grows on you.

Patently absurd is the idea that the treasure these misfits, these goonies, is searching out might be real. But what kid doesn’t have that fantasy? What kid doesn’t want to find a treasure map to some local place which, in the course of one night, can give them the power to alter their families’ lives for the better? What kid doesn’t want that kind of adventure?

I love the idea that the treasure is that of One-Eyed Willie, who serves as a sort of alpha goonie even in death. Never mind that he slaughtered his crew, the guy buried some treasure and dies with it so no one else could have it. He set up illogically complex traps to stop those trying to get to it (just like the Goonies set up an illogically complex contraption to open their front door, or to crash land through it). The romanticism at work here is purely from the mind of a kid, even if it was created by adults (namely scriptwriter, and HARRY POTTER director, Chris Columbus, as well as exec producer Spielberg and director Richard Donner).

So much pleasure is taken with the creation of the movie, that it is impossible not to have some of that rub off onto the viewer. Technically speaking, this is an average film, but the experience of watching it is greater than the sum of its parts.

That said, the Sloth/Chunk relationship is downright creepy. There is a certain poetic joy from watching these two outcasts, the overweight Chunk and the deformed Sloth, forming a bond. And I’m fine with the innocent hugs. But when Chunk lays his head on Sloth’s crotch as he exits the cave, I was a little weirded out. And when he later declares he is going to adopt Sloth (despite his obviously being a grown man… but whatever), I was amazed that made it into the film.

But the line I most can’t believe made it into the film was when a girl, maybe 16, tells a boy, maybe 12 “You know, you’re a great little kid… person. You keep kissing girls the way you do, the parts of you that don’t work so good, they’ll catch up to the ones that do.”

What? That made it into a PG kid’s flick? I love the 80s…

Which brings me back to a point which I make often in these pages: Movies like this just don’t get made anymore. Even by 1990, the PG kid flick had changed from THE GOONIES to HOME ALONE. Not that HOME ALONE is bad, but it is much more sanitized that THE GOONIES. And today? Now it’s SPY KIDS and THE SMURFS and pretty much the most sterilized and politically correct stuff you can find. THE GOONIES doesn’t talk down to kids. It challenges them with scary villains, and social pressures, and dead bodies. It’s not afraid to throw actual danger at them, even as we as an audience wink at the danger knowing that everything will turn out alright. THE GOONIES, then, for all its flaws, sets out to make a movie about kids which kids can identify with. It absolutely succeeds on that level.

So despite its absurdity, despite its poor acting, despite its disconnection from logic, and despite the fact that I can’t justify why I would say this… I really enjoyed this movie.



The bonus is for the visual aesthetic this movie created. I can’t even justify why I like the look of this movie so much. The cinematography isn’t great, the editing isn’t profound, and the caves often look fake. But the world sucks you in, and you can’t help but enjoy the way it absorbs you. Like everything else about this movie, the reasons I like the way it looks are illogical.



~ by johnlink00 on June 1, 2012.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: