Action/Adventure / Reviews

The Goonies (1985) review

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Starring: Josh Brolin, Sean Astin, Corey Feldman

Written by: Chris Columbus

Directed by: Richard Donner

A group of young friends find a treasure map and go on an adventure to locate the treasure, along the way running into booby traps and The Fratelli’s, a family of criminals just escaped from jail.

The Goonies is a classic family film, the likes we wouldn’t see made today.  Directed by Richard Donner (Superman: The MovieLethal Weapon) and written by Chris Columbus (Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, Adventures in Babysitting),  this is a magical film that doesn’t treat children as anything but what they are.  They are not coddled and treated as they are worthless until twenty.  For a modern audience of young teenagers, this should be an empowering film, inciting adventure and exploration.  It is a wonderful film, thirty years after release and I feel that is now, and always will be, a classic, remembered fondly and enjoyed for generations to come.


An evil real estate developer is looking to buy all the houses in an area known as ‘the goondocks’. A group of friends, known as The Goonies, worried about having to move away from each other, find a treasure map in the attic of one of the boys.  They set off on an adventure to try to recover the legendary treasure of One-Eyed Willy, a notorious pirate, to save their homes. Soon, though, they come into contact with a gang of crooks known as The Fratelli’s (Anne Ramsey, Joe Pantoliano, and Robert Davi). Evading The Fratelli’s, the kids soon find themselves facing booby traps left by One-Eyed Willy and his pirate gang to protect the treasure, while still being pursued by the crooks.

Yesterday, we had storms roll though our area.  Thanks to that, my internet connection started to go a little wonky.  As I looked through my collection of Blu-Ray’s, I stumbled upon The Goonies.  I had purchased it about a year ago and hadn’t watched it since I bought it.  In fact, I probably hadn’t watched the film in 5, maybe 10 years.  Well, on Monday night, I take my son home to his mama, but we had a couple hours to kill before she got off work.  So I popped it in.  I figured he wouldn’t really care about the film, but I wanted to watch it, so, dammit, Daddy wins.  I was right.  He didn’t care about it for the first half hour.  As I talked to him though, during a smoke break, I told him the movie was about a bunch of kids who find a treasure map and go looking for treasure.  He looked at me, and like a little man, said “That sounds pretty interesting.”  Of course, interesting sounded more like ‘interzestin’ but I got the point. From that moment on, he sat on my lap and watched the rest of the film with me, enamored and enthralled by the booby traps, the chases, and the wonderful music by Dave Grusin.

As you watch The Goonies, you can’t help but notice how well it fits in with ’80’s Steven Spielberg produced or directed films.  In fact, Steven Spielberg has a Story by credit and the film was released through his Amblin Entertainment banner. You could easily find this placed among Gremlins, Poltergeist, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doomand others that Spielberg either directed or produced or had a story by credit on.  At the time, he clearly remembered his childhood and looked through that magical lens between childhood wonder and the crushing blows of adulthood. Even his short lived TV series Amazing Stories tapped into that childlike wonder, looking at the world through their eyes.  While this film wasn’t directed by Spielberg, it is clearly inspired by him and I think he had more of a hand in it than just a Story by credit.

The Goonies is a wonderful, magical film that deserves to be seen, if you are the one person who hasn’t seen it.  Just keep in mind, there is a little bit of language sprinkled throughout.  Watching this again, it is still just as fun as it was when I saw it back in the ’80’s.  Share this film with your children.  It is a great adventure story for them, and I think you will be surprised by how much you will find yourself enjoying it, as well.

***1/2 out of ****

And, just because it is amazingly awesome, here is the music video for Cyndi Lauper‘s The Goonies ‘R’ Good Enough.

BIZZAM!! Fun Facts!

  • The pirate ship at the end of the film was real. All the shots in the ship were actually filmed in or on the ship.  At the end of shooting, it was offered to anyone who wanted it.  No one did so it was scrapped.
  • The film was shot mostly in sequence and took five months to shoot.
  • From IMDB: In the storybook of the film, One-Eyed Willy’s back-story is told by Francis Fratelli, when The Fratelli’s take the doubloon from Chunk. One-Eyed Willy, whose real name is William B. Pordobel, was a court jester, before becoming an ingenious pirate, when he was banished from five Spanish courts, for his practical jokes and formed a band of pirates, whom marauded hundreds of the king’s ships and accumulated a treasure worth millions. But, Willy’s ship “Inferno” was attacked by three of the King’s ships and Willy steered his ship into a hidden underground cavern and was sealed within by the canon fire from the British. Willy and his men had spent a couple of years trying to repair the ship and had built underground caves with weird booby traps to protect the treasure and one of Willy’s men escaped to tell Willy’s story, which became a legend.
  • From IMDB: Despite the fact that no “uncut” version has been released on home media when basic cable/local stations air the film the version used includes both the “Stop and Shop” and “Giant Octopus” sequences cut from final version.
  • NOTE:  I remember seeing the giant octopus scene at some point.  I didn’t watch the deleted scenes last night to see if it’s on the disc, but I must have seen it on a TV broadcast at some point in the past.

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