By Ezra Stead
The Goonies, USA, 1985
Directed by Richard Donner
You know what I love about the ’80s? Public Enemy, NWA, Prince, Guns N’ Roses, and the fact that The Toxic Avenger (1984), an unrated film that shows a kid’s head getting smashed by a car in graphic, bloody close-up within the first thirty minutes, was inexplicably made into a children’s cartoon on broadcast television.
You know what I hate about the ’80s? Reaganomics, Reagan, Bush, and now that I’ve pretty much got you all on my side, let me do a 180 and say that I hate The Goonies (1985).
Okay, so you’re probably yelling at your computer screen now, but I defy any of you, to give me any kind of logical argument for why anyone over the age of ten, with an IQ over 100, should like this film, let alone consider it “the greatest adolescent adventure film of all time,” as at least one critic has dubbed it.
Now, I’ll admit that I am lacking the one and only prerequisite for liking The Goonies: I never saw it as a kid. I know dozens of people who profess to love the film because they grew up with it. Most of them haven’t seen it since they were kids, but I guess that’s beside the point. The point is, I also never saw Labyrinth (1986) or The Princess Bride (1987) or The Neverending Story (1984) as a kid either, but I still love those movies now, after having seen them as an adult. Why? Because they’re actually good films.
The Goonies, on the other hand, has one good thing going for it: Chunk (Jeff Cohen). Perhaps the only worthwhile scene in the whole godforsaken film is Chunk’s tearful confession of causing a massive puke-fest, which would have been funnier if it were shown rather than merely described, a la Stand By Me (1986), an infinitely superior “adolescent adventure film.” Chunk’s other shining moment is, of course, the infamous “truffle shuffle,” a cheap joke at the expense of a fat kid that I would still rather watch for three hours than sit through the rest of the movie.
The rest of the characters I couldn’t give less of a crap about if I was constipated.
But let’s not forget the slight undercurrent of racism to be seen in the character of Data (Ke Huy Quan), the uber-smart Asian kid who’s really good at math and science. For some reason, in the ’80s, this was the most popular stereotype; remember Sixteen Candles (1984) and “Long Duk Dong” (Gedde Watanabe)? Someone should get their ass kicked by the ghost of Bruce Lee for that one. Or how about A Christmas Story (1983)? A sweet, nostalgic family film that I love through and through, until the end, when it suddenly becomes a bad ethnic joke: “Deck the hars wif boughs of horry!” Isn’t it funny? We’re better than them.
But, I digress. It’s not that The Goonies is a terrible movie; it’s just that, like Rocky (1976), TRON (1982), E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial (1982), Spaceballs (1987), or any number of other so-called “classics” of that approximate era, it is over-rated, and doesn’t deserve the cult status it has, which, more than anything, just baffles me. There are adults all over the country who remember this overblown spectacle of mediocrity with fondness, and who have probably never even seen Time Bandits (1981), for example.
And I know this is getting a bit long-winded, and The Goonies really isn’t worth 600 words, so let me just conclude by saying that a friend of mine once belittled The Lost Boys (1987), one of my childhood favorites, as nothing more than The Goonies with vampires, and maybe he was right; but in my eyes, that alone makes it a hundred times cooler, and I for one will sleep better tonight dreaming of David (Kiefer Sutherland), Marko (Alex Winter) and Dwayne (Billy Wirth) feasting on every last one of those stupid kids, and preventing them from ever completing their lame adolescent adventure.
Ezra Stead is the Head Editor for MoviesIDidn’tGet.com. Ezra is also a screenwriter, actor, filmmaker, rapper and poet who has been previously published in print and online, as well as writing, directing and acting in numerous short films and two features. A Minneapolis native, Ezra currently lives in Brooklyn, New York.
For more information, please contact EzraStead@MoviesIDidntGet.com.