For those of us able to claim the 80’s as the major part of our childhood, classic adventure tale The Goonies is likely to feature heavily as part of that nostalgia. Now approaching twenty years from its original release date, the ingenious, yet enjoyably simply story, of a group of kids facing the usual adolescent angst, peer pressure and that awkward interaction with the opposite sex is captured perfectly, and intricately woven into the exciting plot that features three seriously scary yet, seemingly incompetent baddies, missing treasure and the infamous one-eyed Willie, (presumably his name was one of the in-jokes included for knowing adults to chuckle at.)
Channel 5 supplied me with my Goonie weekend, the tamer PG (and original version I was familiar with) on during the day, whilst 12 rated Goonies Uncut showing at the decidedly late hour of 11pm! Of course, like anyone given the choice, I stayed up for the good version – which to my delight, provided some interesting surprises and a few decidedly sinister added scenes, plus for those of us who like our films with a bit of extra spice, some choice swear words I’d not seen within the context of this film before. The Goonies of the title are the Goondock kids, who, desperate to stop their houses being destroyed to make way for a Country Club, set off in search of One-eyed Willie’s treasure, armed with a treasure map, and an ancient doubloon devised to pinpoint its exact location.
The young actors involved all excel in their performances, with many going on to bigger and better things. Corey Feldman’s ‘Mouth’ is perfect as the wise cracker of the group whilst Sean Austin’s strong and earnest portrayal of eternal Goonie, and leader ‘Mikey’ holds the group, and the film, together throughout. Jonathan Ke Quan’s zany inventor ‘Data’ is great, with an idea for every occasion, however, its character Chunk played by Jeff Cohen, with a comedic brilliance far above his age, that constantly threatens to steal the show. Never far from food, or a complaint, whilst on their way where X marks the spot, Chunk is heard to whine, “you made me go up this big hill and you said you’d give me a twinkie.” Unfortunately for the boys, the treasure location turns out to be the hideout of criminal family the Fratellis, made up of ‘Mama’ and her two squabbling sons, with a third family member chained up in the basement.
The terrifying matriarch of the family still rules her adult boys’ with an iron fist, perfectly happy to admit the youngest is her favourite whilst she clobbers her eldest. The string of pearls she wears is a really nice touch, to what is otherwise an extremely dominant, and some might even say, manly character. After her first meeting with the Goonie clan, who decide to go into the restaurant despite Chunk’s hysterical warnings of “they’re gonna kill us!” she sums up her thoughts on motherhood and children in general, “kids suck.”
Long suffering babysitter and elder brother Brand, now enters the fray with would-be girlfriend in tow, just as the boys use the Fratellis’ brief absence to search for the loot, after being terrified by the seemingly dangerous ‘Sloth’, who’s still chained to the wall. Chaos ensues once the baddies return leaving Chunk trapped in the cupboard with a corpse they’d killed earlier, and rest of the group finding a tunnel which could lead to a way out, or even, as Mikey desperately hopes, buried treasure. Despite finding a way out, and in true adventure style, Chunk is re-captured by the Fratellis, leading to a fantastically funny interrogation scene in which he feels the need to confess to everything he’d ever done wrong in life. His misdemeanours even endear him to the eldest brother who can’t help but admit, “Ma, I’m really starting to like this kid.”
Having given up the whereabouts of the secret tunnel, Chunk is tied to a chair and left alone with the disfigured and undoubtedly unnerving, Sloth. However, following his initial fear of the huge prisoner, we see them bonding over chocolate, forming what will eventually become the most heart warming bond, and lead to the incredibly important moral of this story. By this point, we now have three sets of groups rushing along the much booby-trapped tunnels racing towards the treasure, and, after what, even at my age, still looks like the most exciting water slide ever, we finally reach the pirate ship and much fought over possible treasure, with Mikey telling Willie, “you were the first Goonie.” All characters are now reunited, with Sloth able to become the hero he always wanted to be and accepted warmly into the Goonies.
Yet with the final booby trap playing its part, all their dreams of treasure now seemed lost, survival being the only option. Having saved ‘Sloth’ from the discriminatory grown-ups, who inevitably assumed his guilt upon judging his appearance, the film packed an important and still relevant emotional punch that benefits all Goonies no matter how old you are. Never judge anyone, because they are different, we all deserve love and acceptance no matter how we may first appear, and even those as unfortunate as Sloth initially appeared to be, still deserve a family that, just as Chunk promised to do, will “take care of them.” In true happy ending style the unscrupulous property big shots got their comeuppance, the Goonies kept their neighbourhood and even though I was still left wondering about the non-existent octopus they all mentioned, a little visit to you tube soon solved that mystery for me too.
Deleted octopus scene