The Goonies (1985)

With the recent passing of director Richard Donner, I decided to take a look at a classic film of his, The Goonies.

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The film, produced by Steven Spielberg, begins with a prison breakout.  Specifically, a counterfeiter named Jake Fratelli (Robert Davi), who manages to escape the pen with help from his mom (Anne Ramsey) and his brother Francis (Joe Pantoliano).

It’s during the ensuing police chase that we meet the kids who comprise the title team: Mouth (Corey Feldman), Andy (Kerri Green), Stef (Martha Plimpton), Data, (Jonathan Ke Huy Quan), Chunk (Jeff Cohen), Brand (Josh Brolin), and his younger brother Mikey (Sean Astin).

But they’re all feeling a bit low because their Oregon haunt, the Goon Docks, are set to be foreclosed on the next day to accommodate the town’s country club.  When obnoxious Mouth pays Mikey and Brand a visit, he pisses Brand off by reminding him that their last weekend together could be more fun had Brand not flunked his driver’s test. Mouth also forces Chunk to do the “truffle shuffle”, or wiggling his overweight belly, before letting him in. Chuck says that he witnessed the police chase earlier, but they call bullshit on this due to his tendency to make up bullshit stories.

After Data arrives using one of his wacky inventions, Mikey’s mom comes home with a lady named Rosalita, who’s agreed to help them pack up for their upcoming move. Because Rosalita doesn’t speak English, Mouth translates Mikey’s mom’s instructions, telling the poor woman that the house is full of drugs and sexual torture devices and that she’ll be locked up if she screws up.

At the same time, Chuck proves he’s a klutz again by breaking an important piece of Mikey’s mom’s mini-replica of Michelangelo’s David. It doesn’t help that Chunk glues the piece back on upside down.

After the two grown-ups leave to get supplies, Mikey’s friends ask why his mom told them they can’t go in the attic.  He says it’s just stuff from his dad’s time as a museum curator. This leads to everyone going up to see if there’s any cool stuff.  A thunderstorm begins, and our heroes find a doubloon and a map from a pirate named One-Eyed Willy. Mikey explains that his dad told him that Willy stole treasure from the British, who chased him to a cave not far from here. They sealed the place so Willy and his crew couldn’t escape, but Willy laid out booby traps to keep outsiders from the treasure before killing his own crew. One managed to escape, hence why the Goonies now have the map. They also find a newspaper article which states that a guy named Chester Copperpot disappeared while looking for that treasure.

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Mikey says that finding this treasure could allow them to keep their homes, although the others pooh-pooh this idea. It isn’t helped when the father of the town jerk Troy (Steve Antin) stops by to remind them that there are papers Mikey and Brand’s dad needs to sign by tomorrow.

But Mikey manages to convince the others to go on this treasure hunt, so they tie Brand up and deflate his bike tires so they can dart off. Brand breaks free after his mom and Rosalita return, and prove to be no help. He ends up taking a little girl’s tricycle to go after the others. But his bad day continues when Troy drives up next to him, with Andy and Stef as his passengers. But the two girls get upset when Troy forces Brandon over a cliff with the tricycle (that little girl’s going to be pissed!).

Mikey and the others find the spot on the coast specified on the map, and with Mouth translating the Spanish on the map, learn that the abandoned restaurant in the vicinity is the next point. Alas, they quickly realize that the Fratellis have already picked the spot as their hideout. They convince Mama and her boys that they’re merely customers, and she in turn gives them dirty water to drink. Chunk says that he’s seen their RV with bullet holes in it, but the others tell him to shut up. Mama grudgingly allows Mikey to use the bathroom, allowing him to see if there’s anything else down below that could lead to the treasure. He sneaks in and sees Jake tormenting his chained, deformed brother Sloth (John Matuszak).

Brand, Stef, and Andy catch up with them, with the latter saying she elbowed Troy’s lip. They start to head out, but then they hide and see the Fratellis drive off, presumably with bodies of feds.

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Going back inside, they hear Sloth’s groans, allowing Stef to give a hilarious line.

Stef: Chunk, I hope that was your stomach!

After Mouth pisses Chunk off again with a crack about his weight, the latter’s anger causes him to break a water bottle, and the remaining water goes below the nearby fireplace. They also find a freezer loaded with ice cream, which naturally draws Chunk in like a magnet. But another corpse is found with the ice cream.

 

Naturally, this is when the Fratellis return, and in their haste, the Goonies end up putting Chunk into the freezer with the corpse while they hide under the fireplace. Once the Fratellis leave again, Chunk comes out and the others tell him to call the police. He leaves through a window, and the others explore the cavern they just found.

But Chunk doesn’t get very far, because the car he flags down is being driven by the Fratellis, who quickly abduct him. While the other Goonies keep moving, they come across a series a pipes which they use in a vain attempt to warm anyone at the nearby country club. Andy’s hyperventilating leads to the group finding the skeletal remains of Chester Copperpot. They also find a key on him along with some candles, unaware that they’re really marked TNT. Suddenly, they’re startled by a swarm of bats.

The Fratellis threaten Chunk with a blender if he doesn’t spill his guts. Intentionally or not, Chunk buys his pals time by rattling off all the bad stuff he’s ever done, amusing Jake. And fortunately, those same bats come up from the fireplace to buy Chunk himself some time. But the Fratellis let him live when they find the doubloon on him. They lock him up with Sloth before heading for the fireplace.

With the key they found, the Goonies discover a waterfall with coins in it. But they soon realize they’re at the bottom of a nearby wishing well, and wouldn’t you know it? Troy and two of his pals are at the top. Andy calls for them and they send a bucket down to bring everyone up. Mikey, though, reminds them that while this place is dangerous, it’s still their best chance of finding that treasure, and thus their best chance of not losing their homes. The others agree, with Andy telling Troy to piss off by sending only his jacket back up to him.

While Chunk is initially scared, he convinces Sloth not to hurt him by sharing his Baby Ruth bar. Sloth then breaks free of his chains. Chunk calls the sheriff, who in turn calls bullshit, because of past stories Chunk has made up, including one about “all those little creatures that multiply when you throw water on them.” But the call is cut short as Chunk tries and fails to keep Sloth from going into the fireplace.

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Elsewhere, the Fratellis are running into the booby traps Data set up. The other Goonies need a potty break, and after the boys go into the cave Brand designates as the men’s room, Andy decides that now is the perfect time to make out with him.  But she unknowingly ends up doing so with Mikey, causing Stef to laugh herself silly.

Data ends up falling into a ditch, but saves himself from the spikes below thanks to one of his inventions. He informs the others of the room he’s now in, where the Goonies find an organ made of bones. The map says that they must play the notes on the back, but they’re screwed if they make too many mistakes. With the Fratellis closing in, Andy manages to play the right notes thanks to her piano lessons.

Her playing opens up a passage that leads to a waterslide, which takes them to a huge grotto. Their eyes widen as they find Willy’s awesome pirate ship the Inferno anchored here. They board the ship and Mikey gives his regards to the remains of Willy found inside. At Mikey’s request, they help themselves to the treasure, save what’s in the platter in front of Willy.

But the Fratellis show up and force the Goonies to give up the treasure they’ve packed. They also force Andy into the water by walking the plank, prompting Brand to go after her. As Stef and Mouth are about to join them, Chunk and Sloth show up to save the day.

While Sloth deals with his mom and brothers (in a nice in-joke, Sloth is now wearing a Superman shirt), Chunk and the others abandon ship and head for light they see at the other end of the cavern. They realize that the candles they found earlier are in fact TNT when they light one, which quickly causes a large boulder to block their way. Sloth moves it while his family attempts to get Willy’s treasure. Alas, we see the reason for Mikey telling them to leave some for Willy: the Fratellis’ meddling activates another booby trap, causing the cave to begin breaking apart. Sloth helps the Goonies get out and is big-hearted enough to go back for his abusive mom and brothers.

The Goonies arrive on the beach and are soon joined by the families as well as the police (one of whom is played by director Richard Donner). The Fratellis come out as well and are promptly arrested, although the Goonies ensure Sloth won’t be taken in too. Chunk invites Sloth to live with him, and I guess Chunk’s parents and sister are fine with a stranger now living under their roof.

Troy’s father arrives with those foreclosure papers, but Rosalita shows them the jewels that Mikey was able to keep in his pocket. As they celebrate the fact that they won’t have to leave their homes now, everyone is astonished by the sight of the Inferno sailing off with the Goonies all cheering.

Like E.T.: The Extra Terrestrial, a big reason The Goonies works is because the child protagonists are all likeable and fun. The bad guys are scary but never overly so. Also like E.T., we have yet to see a sequel to this film, although there have been attempts over the years that have fallen through for various reasons.

But that’s just as well, as far as I’m concerned, because this film doesn’t need a sequel. Both The Goonies and E.T. are awesome by themselves.

Rob Kirchgassner

Rob is a blogger, critic, and author. His latest novel is Ailurophobia, available now from Amazon.

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