1985 was a big year for movies, even in a decade known as the peak of high-concept IP. It was a year dominated by flying DeLoreans, Madonna, Bruce Springsteen, the release of Nintendo, and one of the greatest adventures of them all – "The Goonies."
The secret caves. The old lighthouse. The lost map. The hidden treasure. What an exciting way to experience the Spring of 1985, back when you knew it was time to get home when the streetlights came on and being a kid with a bike meant the world was yours to explore...until dinner time at least. When opening weekend for a movie was an actual event requiring camping out and spending hours in line making new friends, and discussing your favorites with a random, fellow fan who happens to just be standing near you.
Today marks the 35th anniversary of "The Goonies," one of the most beloved, classic movies of the 1980s.
Steven Spielberg (Back to the Future, Indiana Jones and Jurassic Park films), Richard Donner (Lethal Weapon films) and Chris Columbus (Harry Potter films) collaborated to create this epic children's adventure with a group of friends known as the Goonies.
To provide the screenplay, the producer, Spielberg, would turn to then-relatively unknown Columbus, who had just penned "Gremlins" for Warner Bros., which Spielberg executive produced. Donner was then brought on board to direct, having previously directed both "Superman: The Movie" and "Ladyhawke." It was this directorial choice that ensured touches of fun, fantasy, and fear into the movie.
A 1980s movie from Spielberg, Columbus, and Donner is practically a guarantee for a blockbuster smash, right? Perhaps not at first. While the movie would go on to be one of the top ten movies of the year, it was overtaken by other massive blockbuster successes of that summer. This left "The Goonies" to become one of the relatively few timeless movies that were a sizable hit upon its release, yet still enjoyed a cult potential thanks to its "little movie that could" vibe. Still, it would fall upon the Goonies aficionados around the world to never say die, hit the right key of B flat, and follow them size fives, growing the movie's status over time.
In a story dependent on friendship, finding the right cast members to capture the natural chemistry of this young group of outcasts on a mission to save their town, was essential.
"The Goonies" proved to be the breakout role for Sean Astin as Mikey and '80s icon Corey Feldman, already a popular child actor thanks to his appearance in "Gremlins," played the wise-cracking Mouth. A very young Josh Brolin as Brand, newcomer Kerri Green as Andy, the incredible Martha Plimpton as Stef, "Indiana Jones'" former sidekick Ke Huy Quan as the brilliant gadget inventor Data, and Jeff Cohen as the loveable Chunk rounded out the cast of kids.
Cohen not only provided one of the most copied "dance moves" in cinematic history, but also provided one of the most genuine friendships of the era - one that began in fear yet developed into kind-hearted compassion and understanding. A solid message that is at the core of what it means to be a Goonie!
"Kids suck"... especially if you're a Fratelli, that is.
Led by the amazingly grumpy Mama Fratelli (Anne Ramsey), the movie opens with this dedicated mama breaking her boy, Jake (Robert Davi, a real-life opera-trained singer), out of jail. Her youngest and favorite son, Francis (Joey Pantoliano, who would again join the Warner family in 1999, with the sci-fi classic "The Matrix"), assists with the getaway.
The Fratelli's bickering and mother-and-sons relationship adds to the movie's theme about family ties. The family sticking together though thick and thin, despite Jake and Francis vying for their mother’s affection (while at the same time chasing kids and hunting down gold), shows how much heart is actually tucked into every aspect of this movie.
"Heeeyyy, youuu guys!"
Possibly one of the most iconic and quoted lines from the last 35 years came from the biggest Goonie of them all – Sloth. The misunderstood, unloved, feared, and abused third son of Mama Fratelli. This role was played by the late former football player John Matuszak, who, according to various cast and crew accounts, was a gentle giant. Chained away in secret in the basement of the abandoned lighthouse restaurant, we first find Sloth spending his days watching movies like "Captain Blood," featuring heroes whom he desperately aspired to be. No matter how torturous and unkind his life had been to this point, this deformed giant still had a heart of gold. He eventually becomes the hero he aspired to be when he stands up to his mother and brothers while wearing a Superman T-shirt (perhaps an Easter egg from Donner?).
The relationship between Chunk and Sloth perfectly captures what it means to be a Goonie: a person that has never fit in, someone who knows that there is more out there and just wants to do the right thing, not only for themselves but for others as well.
"The Goonies" may be the ultimate retro movie of the decade, from the clothing down to the glory days of what it meant to be a kid. Watching the movie through a child's eyes, the audience may feel the same sense of adventure as the characters – discover what they uncover, navigating treacherous traps, and ultimately discovering the long-lost pirate ship full of golden doubloons. For example, there is a scene in this movie that captures this magic - the Goonies have just outwitted the final organ puzzle that launches them down a tunnel and into an enormous cavern full of crystal blue water and The Inferno, One-Eyed Willy's pirate ship. In a brilliant move by Donner, the cast was not shown the pirate ship set prior to filming and as a result, captured their real-life reactions to the set. Wide eyes, mouths hanging open…we finally see what they've come so far to find. The audience then gets to share the characters' (and the actors') sense of wonder and amazement at the moment.
Will we ever see our Goonies come together again for another treasure hunt? Can fans convince filmmakers to make another adventure? Regardless of what happens, the treasured story of "The Goonies" can never be lost, only rediscovered.
Join the adventure and watch "The Goonies" today. Be on the lookout for the 4K UHD release later this year!