The Goonies



Director: Richard Donner.Writers: Chris Columbus, Steven Spielberg. Cast:Sean Astin, Josh Brolin, Jeff Cohen, Corey Feldman, Kerri Green, Martha Plimpton, Ke Huy Quan, John Matuszak, Joe Pantoliano, Anne Ramsey.

To talk about this film objectively is for me virtually impossible. I’ve grown up with the Goonies and I could probably recite the script by heart (in fact both in Italian and English). For us children of the 80s this was the film to watch over and over again. We all dreamed of adventures, hidden treasures, secret dungeons. When I was 15 or 16 I even made a short film with my friends (using a huge VHS camcorder) called the “poonies” which was a rip off (to put it kindly) of the idea of a band of kids solving a mystery.
Anyway back to the Goonies. Your appreciation of this will depend whether you’ve grown up with it (or whether you’re a kid today) or not.

This screams Spielberg’s popcorn 80s all the way, in the best possible way: it’s witty, charming, exciting, adventurous. It has kids on bikes, the suburban locations, the slightly cheesy all American innocence. It’s just a perfect entertainment machine.

Beyond the (intentionally) ludicrous and slightly clunky plot director Richard Donner directs the group of talented young actors with such care, dynamism and love, making them feel like they’ve all been knowing each other forever. The interaction between them is what makes this such an enduring classic: they all embody their parts to perfection. Each of them has always something to do, even when they’re in the background. Yes sometime they all talk over each other and often it can be hard to understand what they’re talking about as their screams and loud music cover some of the lines, but that’s what makes it so much enjoyable to watch too!

The film rattles along from set piece to set piece, beautifully photographed with its moody dark shadows. There’s no “kids don’t do this at home” warning here. There’s swearing, penis jokes, tongue kissing references, some bullying even but it’s all done with such fun and innocence that it’s hard to fault it.
And that’s without mentioning the Fratelli brothers (and their mom!), Sloth, the pirate ship, the water slide, the “Good Enough” song, Sean Astin, and so on and so on….
My son watching it for the first time was breathless, shouting at the screen, covering his eyes and ears, mesmerised and terrified at the same time. What a joy watching it with him.
In a time defined by superheroes, blockbusters, Disney franchises and reboots, the Goonies is what “kids’ movies” used to be and Hollywood should look at it again once in a while and learn something from it.

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