Today! Because if you don’t bring those kids back I’m going to commit Hare Krishna!
The Goonies (1985)
Directed by Richard Donner (x4)
Starring Sean Astin (x2), Corey Feldman, Jeff Cohen, Jonathan Ke Quan, Josh Brolin, Kerri Green, Martha Plimpton, Anne Ramsey (x3), Joe Pantoliano (x4), Robert Davi (x2), John Matuszak, Mary Ellen Trainor (x5), Lupe Ontiveros, Keith Walker, Steve Antin
The ’80s were the heyday of kids on adventures in the movies, or at least it seemed that way when I was a kid, in the ’80s. Maybe every decade plays this way when you’re young – maybe that’s how they’ve designed it to feel! – but back then it seemed like we couldn’t hunt down kid-centric action peril flicks from much further back than the Carter administration, and so it all felt like a new concept. And the first time I ever remember going to a drive-in movie – at the glorious Circle Drive-In in Dickson City, still in operation as of this writing! – was to see the Ethan Hawke classic Explorers paired with Richard Donner’s rip-roaring, hilarious treasure hunt The Goonies.
I mean really, after this movie, who didn’t hunt through their attic or basement for old forgotten maps to the rich stuff? What made Goonies so relatable, even with all the villains and booby traps and Sloth, was that there’s nothing really supernatural in the film. Sure, the ending, maybe, and some of the traps are a little far-fetched, but watching it as a kid, you could kinda see how all this might exist. Lots of practical effects and stunts in this movie! So you could gather up your dumb buddies, get on your bikes, and go in search of pirate gold, even in Scranton, hundreds of miles from an ocean.
As much a Stranger Things precursor as E.T. or It, The Goonies features a bunch of terrific kid performances – as I mentioned in some recent post (Home Alone, maybe?), if there’s a Mount Rushmore of child comedy acting, movie MVP Jeff Cohen deserves to be carved in stone, alongside your Shirley Temples and Macaulay Culkins. You can easily make a case for the other Goonies as well – Sean Astin has had a great career, and does fine lead work, Ke Quan’s terrific few years continued following his Short Round excursion, Corey Feldman was never better – but Cohen, as terrific as he was as Chunk, was never in another feature film. Isn’t that incredible? He did some TV, and some voiceover work, but in five years he would basically stop acting, and move over to producing. It’s a true shame! For all the talent gathered up here – Oscar nominee Brolin, Emmy winner Plimpton, etc. – no one is funnier than Chunk.
(This has nothing to do with this movie, but is everyone aware that Martha Plimpton’s father is Keith Carradine? I learned this just now and am kind of amazed. Her mother Shelley was in the Off-Broadway company of Hair with Carradine, and that’s how it all went down. Huh! Lineage!)
Not a ton of major award recognition for this beloved classic of my generation, outside a few Young Artist Award type things, when they easily could’ve given out Best Middle School Translator to Feldman’s Spanish mangling Mouth, Best Guide to How Plumbing Operates, for their illustration of faucet handles disappearing and toilets exploding when pipes are banged on, and Best Upside-Down Penis, for that statue.
Donner becomes only the fourth member of the Four-Timer directors wing, following work on #305 Superman, #199 Superman II, and #227 Scrooged, but sad to say, this is his final list film. Sorry, Ladyhawke fans! He joins Woody Allen, Alfred Hitchcock, and Paul Thomas Anderson in the elite group. We’ve also got Astin (#179 LOTR: Two Towers) and Davi (#223 Die Hard) joining the Two-Timers acting guild, Ramsey (Scrooged, #280 Rhinoceros) advancing to the Threes, Pantoliano (#268 The Matrix, #201 The Fugitive, #347 Memento) to the Fours, and the legendary Mary Ellen Trainor (#375 Romancing the Stone, #344 Back to the Future Part II, Die Hard, Scrooged) as finally the second actress to the Fives, after Sigourney Weaver. Spotlight!