National Kids Day: The Goonies
As part of National Kids & Pets Day, we decided finding nostalgic childhood films was a bit easier than combining both themes. We are taking this opportunity to review ten films that have been deemed staples of the youths of varying generations. This article looks at The Goonies.
This was meant to be a part of National Kids Day: an emphasis on family films that many generations grew up on. Millennials love The Goonies. It’s discussed all the time. I’ve seen it, now. I can’t comfortably put this crass-fest under the “family” label and call it a day. Last thing I need is a bevy of emails, telling me that I geared people towards a cuss-filled, immaturely sexual, morbid onslaught. It would be another story if this film was actually good.
Well, sorry readers (some of you are likely going to be readers-no-more after this). It isn’t good. In an early-ish scene, Mouth instructs his Goonies friends to make lots of noise to get the pipes going. I could barely tell a difference. This entire film is so stupidly loud, I could have sworn “The Goonies” is a term for the mini migraines that haunt you for hours after the film. This goes on for just under two hours. For crying out loud, how much screaming nonsense can you take? I’ve heard that kids like this audible-passing-kidney-stone more than adults that revisit it, and it might be because it never lets up one iota. For me, this is too much. Zero imagination, and the complete insistence of it through shouting and sound battles.
So some foul mouthed schmucks find a treasure map and vow to follow it, against the wishes of older brother/honorary member Brand. What else can be said about this? The kids (titled the Goonies, of course) bump into some deep trouble (the crime Fratelli family) almost serendipitously: the Goonies only just so happened to stumble upon this treasure map, and the Fratellis are currently caught up with their own business (a “stiff”). Toss in a bunch of pop culture references (haha, get it, the “prank” police call being referred to is the plot for Gremlins. Haha. Hah. Hah.), and you have a recipe for calamity.
The entire film doesn’t let up. It. Does. Not. Let. Up. From the opening police sirens, to the bitter end. This is meant to appeal to hyperactive youths. I understand this. That doesn’t mean it’s a good film. The cult status might be because this film was a part of the childhoods of millions. It wasn’t a part of mine, so I have zero justification as to how I would ever wish to watch this again. There is some great production value, here. The elaborate sets. The triumphant Dave Grusin score. This was meant to be a fully bodied film for kids. It only resonates as a bedazzled garbage can for me.
Is this meant to usher in mature themes and dialogues to kids that are old enough? Is this the taste of the adult life? Guess what? It isn’t. It’s too childish, and rambunctious to be the kinds of films adults would watch. It’s also way too vulgar and dark for just kids to view. This is the product of the PG curse: a film that tried to land right in between G and PG-13 (the evil older sibling of PG). We gotta sprinkle some s-bombs, pee jokes, and genital talks to make sure we qualify for the full family rating. Not too many, though. We don’t want to risk being PG-13, or, gasp, rated R!
Seeing that this was a story Steven Spielberg created and abandoned, and a story that Chris Columbus converted into a screenplay (cinema businessmen extraordinaires), we may have our answer. Superman director Richard Donner pulled the trigger, and apparently vowed to continue the box office success he was garnering already. It was a win for all parties involved.
Well, it wasn’t a win for me. Every gross image, jump scare, lame joke, and story deviation was just enough for me. Every fat joke to ridicule Chunk was a tired joke to begin with (that only got worse with each joke being told). If Braveheart is the never-ending macho man epic, then The Goonies is this film for tween boys. It’s annoying enough that any flaws stick out even more, especially stupid storyline tropes, for instance (of course Brand’s mom didn’t listen to him when he was tied up. That’s convenient.). What about the awful directing of background performers? Absolutely! When Brand steals Rosalita’s child’s bike and she stomps around in place? Who would do that, and not chase after the thief (or at least not robotically start stomping the millisecond after the bike is stolen)? Even main stars are mugging, or spazzing out in a silent fit in a number of scenes, as if even the visuals have to be maddeningly loud. What’s the excuse here?
Once again, The Goonies wasn’t made for a thirty year old critic. Maybe make your own discretions with your own kids, if you think this is the kind of film they should be watching. For me, I can partially admire the capturing of the kind of energy a young boy might have. All I know is, every time Data busts out a new invention that conveniently correlates to any situation, I lose less belief in this film. It is an eyesore, an earsore, and barely pieced together in any cohesive way. It’s as if a ten year old brat made up this tale on the spot. Maybe that’s why it appeals to kids. I got nothing substantial out of this, outside of a greater appreciation for the films I did grow up with.
Also, on a final note, Sloth ripping his shirt off to reveal the Superman logo (a clear reference to Donner’s previous film) was the extra slap to the face I simply did not need. At all.
Andreas Babiolakis has a Masters degree in Film and Photography Preservation and Collections management from Ryerson University, as well as a Bachelors degree in Cinema Studies from York University. His favourite times of year are the Criterion Collection flash sales and the annual Toronto International Film Festival.