If you want a pure unadulterated ride in to the middle of the eighties, “The Goonies” is an inadvertent trip in to the complete mindset of the decade. Cyndi Lauper, adventure, escapism, work out obsession, coming of age, nostalgia for the sixties, a humongous Steven Spielberg influenced narrative, Corey Feldman, Richard Donner, Jonathan Ke Quan, if it was in the eighties, it’s likely here. That doesn’t act as a caveat, thankfully, as “The Goonies” is a very decade relevant film that still manages to work as an excellent child oriented fantasy adventure in the vein of “The Hardy Boys.”
Mikey and his brother Brand are on the verge of moving from their neighborhood in the Boondocks where they spent most of their lives with their group of friends. They spend their days engrossed in wacky antics and escapism that keep them bonded as a group known as The Goonies. When Mikey is convinced he can find the treasure of “One Eyed Willy” that can prevent his father from signing over his house and keep them from moving, he and his friends seek out the hidden treasure. Meanwhile, the evil Fratelli family have just broken out of jail, and are hiding out in an abandoned restaurant, planning their next action, while Mike and The Goonies are directly under the structure, finding the clues that will hopefully lead to a buried treasure.
“The Goonies” isn’t just about finding treasure, but Mikey’s journey to maintain his home unit, which involves, a group of eccentric but fun loving friends he has no intention of ever leaving. Josh Brolin is great as the inadvertent leader of the group who is at first a foil of the group, and then realizes that he also has no intention of leaving his childhood home. The script penned by Chris Columbus is obviously heavily influenced by “The Hardy Boys” adventures with a hint of “Indiana Jones” thrown in, and it shows through and through. From the odd clues, the deadly booby traps, and the inevitable awe inspiring discovery that leads to a showdown with the evil band of criminals, it’s a loving tribute to old time cinema that Spielberg was prone to delivering in the eighties.
True to the decade, there is even the heavy presence of Rube Goldberg devices that not only act as a means of setting off deadly booby traps, unveiling the hidden ship of One Eyed Willy, and even activating the gate to Mikey’s front yard. “The Goonies” works because director Richard Donner is able to garner such natural and unique performances from the cast of mostly child performers. Folks like Feldman and Astin offer quite excellent and lovable turns as their respective characters, while Jeff Cohen is hilarious as the group’s food hound Chunk.
His sub-plot involving his gradual bond with the Fratelli’s deformed sibling Sloth is charming, and hilarious. Especially when Sloth decides to band with the Goonies and help them take down the Ftatellis. “The Goonies” is that rare instance of children’s cinema that appeals to all audiences, and still holds up as a wildly entertaining and utterly excellent adventure film. It’s a shame it never garnered a sequel, but all things considered it works perfectly as a standalone. I could picture at least two more films based on these characters being just as entertaining. “The Goonies” is by far the classic you’ve heard about and garners incredible replay value.