Late to the Party: The Goonies

Hello, all!  This is my first-ever post for Geekin’ Out and I’m rather excited to present to you my review of The Goonies.

I imagine you’re thinking that someone reviewing one of the most iconic movies from the ‘80s is a bit stupid, and ordinarily I’d be right there with you.  But believe it or not, reviewing popular movies, TV shows and whatnot that everyone else has known about for ages and ages is my new role around here.  Why?  Well … because I’ve never seen them.  I grew up in the ‘90s with no gaming consoles, no cable or satellite (which means no MTV, YTV or any stations other than local programming by CBC and CTV), and little to do in my spare time aside from reading and playing around on the internet when dial-up wasn’t being a dick, which, let’s be honest, was most of the time.

Feel free to be shocked about the fact that I’d never seen The Goonies before watching it this week. I didn’t know much about it except that Sean Astin had starred as one of the lead characters, that Sloth, one of the secondary characters,  looked seriously creepy, and that it involved kids looking for treasure.  That’s all I had, and so I’m going to review this movie as if that’s all you know about it.

(For my live-tweeting stream – in other words, what I was thinking as I watched the movie – click here and scroll all the way down to the bottom for the beginning of the stream.)

Let’s do this.

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After the opening scene of criminals escaping from a local jail, we’re introduced to the Goonies, who are known primarily by their nicknames: Mikey, Mouth, Chunk and Data.  The banks are foreclosing on their parents’ homes and the boys contemplate what it would be like if they could suddenly find a way to keep their houses.

The Goonies with One-Eyed Willy's map

Fortune and glory!

Once left to their own devices, the Goonies sneak up into Mikey’s attic and, in the midst of their fooling around, find a map that is rumoured to lead to treasure once owned by a pirate named One-Eyed Willy.  (Let’s not start with the penis jokes, I chuckled over that often enough because I’m a total juvenile.)  They set out to uncover the hidden treasure, but instead stumble upon a murder committed by the family of escaped criminals known as the Fratellis.  Their quest for pirate gold turns into a fight of survival as they try to stay a step ahead of their pursuers in the booby-trapped caves of One-Eyed Willy.

Thoughts

By my standards, the plot is a little on the generic side.  There’s nothing new about looking for pirate treasure, in movies for either children or adults.  It isn’t enough to make the movie seem tired, like it’s going through the motions, but it’s hard not to already have ideas about what’s going to happen.  That said, the booby-traps, while inarguably childish in nature, were complex enough as to keep things interesting for me, rather than letting me drift back over to Twitter for more than a couple of seconds.

I’m not entirely sure why, but I found myself comparing this movie to Muppet Treasure Island quite frequently while I was watching it.  Sure, it’s similar enough in terms of going on a treasure-hunt of epic proportions, but there’s no Muppets, no Tim Curry and no entertaining musical numbers, so what gives?  The only reasoning I can come up with is that, as a treasure-hunt movie goes, it would be a great movie for a younger audience.  It’s exciting enough to keep your attention, funny enough to make you laugh and action-packed enough to keep your interest piqued.

Chunk and Sloth

Who doesn't love a good Babe Ruth?

Speaking of piqued interest,  Sloth’s character disappointed me slightly, but only because he didn’t have nearly enough screen-time as I’d expected.  His interactions with Chunk are funny and sweet, but to me, there was far too little from this unique character: not enough interaction with his family, not enough of how he and Chunk work to find and help the rest of the Goonies, not enough of his personal story.  He’s an interesting, hapless character, and I would have loved to see more of him.

That said, my favourite part of the movie was, as it always should be, its characters.  I immediately latched onto Mikey and Data, as they were the only Goonies whom I recognized from other roles: Sean Astin (Mikey) from Rudy and Lord of the Rings, and Jonathan Ke Quan (Data) from Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.  (I also recognized Joe Pantaliano, who plays one of the Fratellis.)  Data was easily my favourite character, with his numerous gizmos and gadgets and what I found to be some of the best lines in the movie. Mouth was also entertaining in a crude, unapologetic way, and Mikey was the typical sympathetic hero of the story.

As far as Chunk is concerned, I both loved him and hated him; he constantly seemed to be jabbering on, freaking out, or talking about food.  I get it, that’s part of being the fat kid in the group, which is also what I’ve been for my entire life; but I’ve never known someone to want ice-cream so badly that they fail to notice a corpse standing frozen in the freezer less than a foot away from them.  In the end, though, he redeems himself in my eyes by offering his home to Sloth, saying that he loves him.  For a character who is in many ways inherently selfish (unintentionally, of course), that very simple line struck home for me and made me want to give him another chance.

Shifting away from the characters, I was somehow both unfazed and impressed with the sets.  They were pretty generic once the Goonies headed into the caves — ‘cause really, once you’ve seen one movie-cave, you’ve pretty much seen ‘em all — but other more elaborate sets, the pirate ship and skeleton shrine (complete with musical keyboard), were rather impressive.  They looked to me like they were taken straight from an abandoned Indiana Jones set, and they added a little something more to the story to keep me interested.  The dingy restaurant in which the Fratellis set up shop is also sufficiently creepy, looking run-down and overrun by cobwebs.

The Verdict (Sorry, Kim, had to steal that.)

To finish this up, I’ll say that I rather enjoyed The Goonies. It was fun, adventurous, entertaining and nostalgic (even to me).  I don’t think it would be one that I would pick up again to watch on my own, but I could see myself having a hoot watching this with a bunch of friends.

Rotten Tomatoes: 63%
iTunes – 4.5 / 5
IMDB – 7.5 / 10
Toria – 3.5 / 5

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One Comment

  1. Ben
    Posted July 21, 2011 at 10:14 pm | Permalink

    Great review, Toria. My parents took me to see The Goonies back when it was first in theatres, and I’ve seen it many times since – it’s one of those iconic 80’s movies that feels timeless. It’s funny, but I had the same feelings about Chuck as you did. I think they overplayed him being the pudgy kid in the group, but he’s not entirely unlikable as a character character. Great review overall – I look forward to seeing more 🙂

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