Re-watch: The Goonies (1985)

First finding out about this movie was kind of an adventure on it’s own.

I can’t tell you when The Goonies first debuted on HBO. It had to be sometime in 1986 or maybe even as late as 1987. But either way, it was before we had cable at home. My dad and I stopped by his sister’s house one evening, and they lived in a part of town where you could get cable. While Dad was talking with his sister, I wandered into the living room where my younger cousin was watching TV. What I saw when I walked into the room were several kids coming out of what looked like a set of water slides in a cavern, and a huge pirate ship. I was immediately intrigued. I asked my cousin what this was and he replied that it was The Goonies, and he was watching it on HBO. Up until this point in time, I had no knowledge of this movie, but knew it was one that I wanted to watch in full.

This was around the same time we had gotten our first VCR and our first video rental store had just opened in town. The next time we went into that store, I inquired about The Goonies. The lady behind the counter told me it was a popular movie with kids my age, and that it was currently rented out. The story remained the same on the next several visits, but finally one day, the movie was in and I was able to rent it and finally give it a watch. I really enjoyed that first watch, and every subsequent watch through the years after that. Since my last viewing, about 15 years have passed. I remedied that situation this past weekend and watched the 4K UHD version. It’s still great.

The Goonies is a wonderful tale of a group of kids whose parents are all about to lose their houses to developers so they can knock them down and build a golf course in their place. Through some ingenuitive storytelling, the kids come across an old pirate’s map leading to a treasure hidden somewhere along the Astoria Oregon coast where they live. The kids set out on a treasure-seeking adventure hoping to find the loot and save their homes. Along the way, they have to deal with numerous booby traps and the murderous Fratelli family in order to find the treasure.

The Goonies is an absolute thrill ride. The group of kids and teens has a diverse set of personalities that play well with, and off of each other. And while all of the young actors perform their parts very well, it’s the set design of the underground world that they are traversing that I love the most. As they go through the various caves and encounter the various booby traps, I still find myself marveling at the design of it all. The dialogue and interaction between all of the characters in the film is superbly done as well.

I can’t imagine that kids around my age at the time could watch this movie and not be chomping at the bit to go on a similar adventure of their own. My friends and I were designing our own traps and mazes around our properties and going “adventuring” during sleepovers for a long while after this film debuted. And this speaks to how well done this movie was as a whole…when you can make an entire generation of kids want to recreate what was on screen, you’ve done a lot of things right.

Most of you reading this have probably seen it, but it’s definitely worth dusting off a copy and watching it again…especially if you now have kids of your own to share it with. I’m sure they’ll have the same sense of wonder that we did when we first saw it.

4.0 stars.

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