The goonies (goonies having the double meaning of losers and also inhabitants of the Goon docks of the city of Astoria, Oregon) is a real cult movie. Don’t believe me? Just go to the part of Twitter talking about cinema and you’ll find a lot of love for this 1985 movie directed by Richard Donner! It’s always mentioned in the unmissable polls on the films to bring to a desert island and among the best films released in his year. But let’s put Twitter aside for a moment (or even for several moments). Everyone, movie lover or not, knows who’s One-eyed Willy and remembers the “Super Sloth!!!” moment! So, does this movie deserve to be considered so well?
Of course it does! Personally, I consider it a bit inferior to two other movies of the same age and with young protagonists, namely Stand by me (1986) by Rob Reiner and Pyramid of fear (1985) by Barry Levinson, but we’re still talking about a wonderful movie, there are so many memorable aspects of it! The protagonists of The Goonies are a group of friends formed by Mikey (Sean Astin, later to become Sam in the Lord of the rings by Peter Jackson, among other things), Mouth (Corey Feldman, who had worked the year before in Gremlins by Joe Dante, the following year he was going to appear in the aforementioned Stand by me, and in 1987 there he was in The lost boys by Joel Schumacher), Chunk (the now-skinny Jeff Cohen), Data (Jonathan Ke Quan, also the kid in the second Indiana Jones), and Mikey’s older brother played by the very young Josh Brolin. The antagonists are also memorable, the Fratellis (which is Italian for brothers), who apparently due to their Italian origin sing loudly and eat pasta. And there are unforgettable scenes like the discovery of the galleon and the escape of the Fratelli brothers including a high-speed car chase.
This fun adventurous movie mixes pirates and adolescence, friendship and love, violence and humor, and it does it perfectly! There are lots of characters and all are well defined, each one with his/her unique traits, none is forgettable. Although none of them undergoes a real evolution like, for example, those in Stand by me (but in that movie growth and entry into the world of the adults are the central themes, the adventure is just an excuse to develop them), in The Goonies you find yourself following Mikey and company as if you were also part of the group! The fantasy part of the story creates a unique atmosphere since the first scene in the attic with the discovery of the first clues to get to the treasure of One-eyed Willy, and the galleon discovery is simply spectacular. It was the Eighties and all special effects were practical, and there was no expense spared: the production basically built a pirate galleon to life size, and it’s said that it was kept hidden from the main actors to ensure that their astonished reaction was the most genuine possible. The strength of the scene in the movie proves that it worked!
But, above all, the dialogues are incredible. Given that five teenagers are the protagonists of the movie and that they are on screen together almost all the time, chaos reigns with lots of scuffles, insults, games, broken stuff, discussions typical of that age… and everything sounds natural, spontaneous, it seems almost impossible that all was written by Chris Columbus (the screenwriter, although the story is attributed to Steven Spielberg). The friendship scenes are really all excellent, every time I watch them I notice new details, something which makes this film unique.
But it wouldn’t be me if I didn’t come up with something I don’t like about this movie. Admittedly, only small things, but enough to put it third in my personal list of the best Eighties’ action films with young protagonists! Only the orchestral part of the soundtrack works for me, while the Cindy Lauper’s songs have aged badly and scream “Eighties” at every note, which for me is not good. Also, some of the adult characters are a bit too idiotic for my taste. Yes, the Fratellis are fun, but they’re also incredibly and unbelievably stupid! And Rosalita… does she really take at face value the translation made by Chunk when Mikey’s mother is telling her what to do in the house? Ok, the scene is funny, but I find it somewhat artificial, unlike the rest of the movie which I find fresh and spontaneous.
That’s all! Yes, I know, I have few criticisms, but as I said The goonies is wonderful, to be watched again and again! Ciao!