The Goonies (1985)

The Goonies (1985) movie poster

director Richard Donner
viewed: 09/28/2012 at McCoppin Square, SF, CA

The Goonies.  An all-time favorite of yours?  Certainly, it seems, it’s an all-time favorite for any number of people who caught it in their childhood and connected with it like a home run.

It’s a curious thing, which I’ve noted over time, that I think I must have missed the age cut-off for that connection, though probably not by a whole lot.  As it’s a Steven Spielberg production (though directed by Richard Donner), I find myself on the Spielberg timeline realizing that I was totally into his films (directed or produced) from Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981), E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982), Poltergeist (1982), Twilight Zone: The Movie (1983), Gremlins (1984), Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984), and Back to the Future (1985).  The kids and I had just watched Young Sherlock Holmes (1985), which I recalled liking, if not overly so.  I recall seeing his film The Color Purple (1985), though I kind of recall seeing that with a girlfriend.  By this point in time, I was 16.

And while I continued to enjoy a number of films he produced or directed before and since, I guess the cut-off line for me was The Goonies.  Over the years, I’ve probably lost sight of whatever it was that seemed lame about it to me.  Some of it was doubtlessly the commercialism of it at the time with Cyndi Lauper and all the MTV tie-ins, the re-use of Ke Huy Quan (Short Round from Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom) as Richard “Data” Wang, and just not connecting with any of the characters.  I’ve always been willing to chalk it up to my own having become a sourpuss.

But it was playing in the neighborhood park as the final film of a late summer series aimed at kids and kids-at-heart.  And it was Felix’s birthday, so we ventured out into the incredible Sunset neighborhood fog, behind the Parkside library, and watched it with a bunch of people in the chill of the night.

I really hadn’t seen it again since its original release.  The cast is actually pretty good with Corey Feldman, Martha Plimpton, Josh Brolin and Sean Astin, as well as Ke Huy Quan (he’s cute) and Jeff Cohen, who played Lawrence “Chunk” Cohen (the fat kid).  The villains, Anne Ramsey, Joe Pantoliano, and Robert Davi are good too.  It’s quite a credit to the casting that so many of those people are still known actors nearly 30 years later.

The story is like something that Scooby-Doo‘s creators would have rejected for its amazing implausibility.  And I never liked the mutant man-child “Sloth” with his folding ears and goofball voice.  And even though the kids are good, Cohen as “Chunk” is probably the best, there are likability issues.

Watching it now, I appreciate it more.  And I can even appreciate why some people like it more than I do.  I still absolutely cite having hit some random cut-off age as a teen as to why it didn’t seem like one of cinema’s greatest gifts to me, while so many other people think it’s such an enduring classic.  Even now, I can see why people like it, but it’s not a great movie.  Spielberg made and produced lots better before and since.

My kids enjoyed it pretty well.  They’d seen it before, with someone who had had more enthusiasm for it.  It got positives.  Okays.

Going to the outdoor movies, cold as it was, was still quite a success.  I hope the Parkside Neighborhood Group does it again next year.

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