Tuesday, 16 August 2011


“The things which the child loves remain in the domain of the heart until old age. The most beautiful thing in life is that our souls remaining over the places where we once enjoyed ourselves” - Kahlil Gibran

At the weekend we saw Richard Donner’s 1998 film “The Goonies” based on a story by Steven Spielberg. This is a classic children’s movie, which although dated and looks very 80s, is a fun adventure. There are bad guys, pirate treasure, underground tunnels, booby traps, boys vs girls, some adolescent romance (very jejune!) and of course the triumph of good over evil. There are some funny scenes, but don’t expect depth and polish. It’s all good fun, perfect for kids that love to go on treasure hunts and imagine themselves starring in swashbuckling adventures.

The film revolves around a group of children and adolescents who live in the poorer, less trendy part of Astoria, Oregon. Every member of this band of “Goonies” as they call themselves, is given a strong characterisation, which helps to move the story along. Teenage Brand is obsessed with his body image and wants to build up his muscles, while his younger brother Mikey is asthmatic and bookish, but is the more imaginative of the two. The chubby little Jewish boy, Chunk, is quite disarming with his weaknesses and manages to deliver quite few good one liners, as well as perform the “Truffle Shuffle”. ‘Data’, the bright Chinese kid with the gadgets, as well as ‘Mouth’ with his hilarious translation of the house-cleaning instructions are all characters that are simple and stock comedic ones, perhaps, but quite appealing for the children who watch the movie and for some adults who remember nostalgically their own childhood.

The two teenage girls who join the boys a little late on in the film are weak, but they are there to add teenage appeal and provide the romantic interest for Brand (played by the way by Josh Brolin, James Brolin’s son). Mikey is played by Sean Astin who played Sam Gamgee in ‘Lord of the Rings’. Both of these child actors did quite well in Hollywood later in their life, compared to other child actors (and Shirley Temple does spring to mind, rather unconnectedly!).

The bad guys in the movie are the Fratelli Brothers and their mother played in broad slapstick strokes by Robert Davi, Joe Pantoliano and Anne Ramsay. They bumble along and create ludicrous tensions, only to have them resolved by their expected downfall and many gags. John Matuszak who plays the severely disfigured ‘Sloth’ Fratelli teaches an important lesson about beauty only being skin deep. The film works as a children’s film as it is ridiculous, unassuming, full of silly children’s gags and a simple rollicking adventure that all children have imagined themselves involved in. The characters are shallow but believable because of their simplicity and stock characterisation. The film was made to be a fun, feel-good movie, not one to win prizes at art-film festivals. To this end it is a successful one.

It is interesting watching films intended for children and compare them over a few decades. One can observe the increasing sophistication as one comes to the more recent ones and also how the children’s films have crossed over into the adult genres. Indeed many of the contemporary children’s films have a firm adult following with many of the die-hard fans being well advanced in years! One only needs to think about the Harry Potter series and the number of adults that became engrossed in all of these movies, and one can see that children are becoming more and more like miniature adults, and adults are regressing into a dark and complex children’s world, which they have helped to create.

‘The Goonies’ will please the young and the young at heart. It is the kind of movie that adults will find endearing because it has the power of nostalgia, while even children nowadays will watch with interest and amusement because it offers them childhood pure and simple, with no grown-up plots and evil nasties, or lots of psychological depths. Its premise is uncomplicated and the moral lessons it teaches are obvious and its significance glaring. Fluff, but amusing fluff, especially for the children of today who have been robbed somewhat of their childhood.


  1. I loved this movie Nic!!!!!!!!! The kids act so well and as you say it's not deep or dark, just great fun!!!!

  2. This is a movie that brings back nostalgic memories for me and it's one that I have watched a couple of times. My nieces and nephews also love it!