The Goonies – 25 Years Later

June 7, 2010 by  
Filed under Blog, Entertainment

“Ye…intruders beware…crushing death and grief…soaked with blood…of the trespassing thief.”

How many times have you said this, in that totally awesome Fakey British Accent just like Corey Feldman as “Mouth” in “The Goonies”? If you grew up between the years 1985-1990, you know these words by heart. You probably know half the movie, if not all of it, by heart. It was a defining “kids” movie of the mid 80’s that still lives on as one of my favorites of all time.

What sets it apart for me as a great film compared to a lot of other “kid gang adventure” movies is that this one has a lot of heart; and not only doesn’t spend its running time showing off kids talking in their lingo and being against their parents but the whole plot revolves around a group of foul-mouthed kids who want nothing more than to help their parents. They want to save the Goon Docks, a little neighborhood tucked away in the rainy, gray skies of coastal Astoria, Oregon.

My friends and I wanted to be The Goonies. Of course, we didn’t have to save our neighborhood. None of us had a Spanish speaking cleaning lady who had to beware of cockroaches and live without food or water if she didn’t comply with orders. Also, none of us, unfortunately, lived near a legendary pirate ship carrying thousands of “rich stuff”.

This was the kind of adventure every boy dreams of, hopefully before they get to 16. In the wide-eyed days of 1985, when we were younger, it was still possible to dream that something like this could happen. This movie was incredibly fun, even with the lame typical mafia-is-after-us subplot. I mean, I guess kids movies always have to have a bumbling group of darkly dressed “burglars” or whatever chasing them. At least this one had a young Joey Pants, and the fight over Pepperoni Pizza was funny. And of course, no one can forget Ma Fratelli who utters the famous line, “Kids suck”. But still, I don’t think there’s a kid’s story out there like this one that doesn’t involve some bumbling mafia guys or some lame government plot that only kids can bust wide open.

I like that the Fratellis never steal the spotlight from the Goonies themselves. Their story is even amusing sometimes, and endearing because of Ma’s deformed progeny, named “Sloth”. Plus, the Fratellis are actually dangerous, unlike most other bumbling villains in kids’ movies. We’re introduced to them breaking out of a prison and murdering someone, stuffing the corpse in a freezer at a seasonal restaurant that’s closed. Well, that’s not totally true–the restaurant is somewhat open. But all they serve is pinkish colored water and tongue.

The Goonies realize that what’s important about the restaurant is that underneath is a cave that does, indeed, lead to the pirate’s treasure. The infamous One-Eyed Willie. But along the way, Sloth joins the group, the Fratellis follow them through the tunnels and the booty traps (that’s Booby traps!), and of course there’s a climax where they’re all on the pirate ship itself.



I was first introduced to this movie through a family friend who was talking to my twin sister about it when we were visiting them down in Slidell, Louisiana. She told us about this movie about a pirate and a bunch of kids, and the pirate was named One-Eyed Willie and he had a patch over his eye. It sounded scary to me, and I didn’t really hear much more about it after that. That was because at the time my family and I were living in one of the most remote towns in the country…Lyon’s Falls in Upstate New York. I was surprised that in my second grade class, the student body was invited to a screening of “The Karate Kid”. But nothing about “The Goonies”.

It wasn’t until 1986, a year after it being released, that I finally got to see the movie. Living in Atlanta, Georgia, and surrounded by neighbors who all had kids me and my sister’s age whom had all seen the movie, it was only a matter of time before I finally got to myself. My next door neighbor, whose hobbies including setting fire to things and copying movies he rented onto blank VHS tapes, let me borrow a copy of it. I was hooked from the first viewing. I identified with its main protagonist, Mikey, and some of my friends around the neighborhood resembled the kids in the movie. I wasn’t nearly as brave or cunning as Mikey, and I didn’t have asthma or braces; but I had a bowl hair cut and I was about his height, I think. I liked quoting Mikey.

“Down here it’s our time… it’s our time down here.”

My friends and I had little adventures of our own. There was an abandoned barn down at the end of a street in our neighborhood that was spooky and old. Naturally, we explored it. There was also a field and a forest behind it. I always wanted to imagine what was beyond…I found out later that it was a Seven Eleven. But at age 8, that’s still pretty cool.

Pizza...? Shhh! Pepperoni...? Shhh!

Pizza…? Shhh! Pepperoni…? Shhh!

The movie shaped my childhood, along with other adventure movies like “Explorers”, “The NeverEnding Story”, “The Dark Crystal”, “Labyrinth”, and “The Goonies” famous rip-off, “The Monster Squad”. Throughout my teenage years I didn’t watch it much. I was over all of that, and I had to give it a break. I think I had watched it 20-30 times during the years of ‘86 and ‘91.

But probably about 8 years ago, around the time when it started to be “cool” to think back on the 80’s (VH1 really went to town with all of that…they sure Loved the 80’s…), I really missed this movie. I still had a clamshell VHS tape (those always made me feel weird, because it just seemed baby proofed or something) and I popped it in and watched it. It really made me ache for my childhood again. I couldn’t watch it for years after that.

For whatever reason, “The Goonies” is still a little painful for me because it’s such a reminder of a wonderful time in my life that’s long over. Sounds strange, but it’s like revisiting the grave of my youth. I don’t know if kids nowadays are introduced to “The Goonies”, but even if they are, it’s not the same. “The Goonies” came out in the middle of the 80’s, when it started to define itself as a decade and date itself. There are elements of the movie that are incredibly dated. The clothing (Mouth’s Member’s Only jacket), Stef’s insanely large glasses, Chunk’s Hawaiian shirt and plaid pants (when was that ever popular?) and of course…the music. Some of the songs they listen to are just brutally 80’s teen rock ditties I’m sure were sellers back in ‘85. But now, they just sound bad. Fun bad, but bad.

This past weekend marked the 25th Anniversary of “The Goonies”. AMC was showing it throughout the weekend. Twenty-five years. It’s pretty hard to think about that. When I was growing up I still remember thinking the 25th Anniversary of “Psycho” meant “it’s old”. Now “The Goonies” is in that class. It’s old. It’s a by-gone era. The Silver Anniversary. It’s just not fair. It should never be considered an old movie–but it is. I just listed reasons why, too. But I don’t want to accept it! I don’t want to accept that I’m old!

OK, I had to get that out of the way.

The DVD release, while not providing a true widescreen presentation (ahem), was a real treat. The commentary track featuring the cast and director was so nice to watch along with revisiting the movie. It was like catching up with old friends. OK yeah, we weren’t really friends. But I made so many connections with these characters, that’s what they felt like. And apparently, these kids formed friendships on the set as well, so it was a real reunion for them as well. It was cute to see, and it’s a cute movie.

Everything from Data’s Pinches of Power to his father telling him in his native Chinese “You are my greatest invention”; Chunk getting his favorite pizza (Domino’s?!?) from his mom and telling Sloth that he loves him; Mouth and Stef sharing a moment; and, the hottie cheerleader Andy telling Mikey he’s a good kisser.

Ah, the Truffle Shuffle!

Ah, the Truffle Shuffle!

With more viewings of the movie, more things just become so darn cute about it. Data’s rant when he falls down the stairs is really hilarious. Mouth’s “I’m taking them all back” soliloquy moves me. And I just think it’s funny that Jake Fratelli makes up a story (presumably?) about going to the Bronx Zoo; and then tells Sloth a story (most definitely true) that they spent money meant to fix his broken teeth on brother Francis’ toupee. There are a lot of little things that just come out of nowhere that add to how great this movie is.

Sure, there’s vulgarity that caused some tidal waves from parent groups back when it came out; but even Ebert said these kids sounded “like real kids”. Of course that meant to him that he couldn’t follow what they were talking about. But we, of course, followed it perfectly. Even when they contracted themselves. Contra…contradicted themselves. We just didn’t want to dictate…or delude ourselves.

Happy Twenty-Fifth, “The Goonies”. You’re still good enough.

License to Drive – 20 Years Later

July 28, 2008 by  
Filed under Blog

Dean teaches Les about the finer things.

Dean teaches Les about the finer things.

I still remember the hot summer day back in July of 1988, my twin sister and I were 9 years old, and our mom took us to see a movie called “Mac and Me”, a cheap rip-off of the ever successful “E.T.”, that I don’t recall either my sister and I ever asking to be taken to. At the time, of course, we had already seen “The Lost Boys” on VHS, and my sister was heavily instituted into the Corey Haim Crush. I just thought “The Lost Boys” was a cool movie. I wasn’t too young to appreciate the great chemistry between the two Coreys, and because that formula worked so well, here they were again, a year later, in another summer blockbuster film. This time, it would involve something neither my sister nor I could really relate to yet, and that was of course, driving.

But we wanted to see the movie regardless. And so, my sister being the more clever sibling, decided to “go to the bathroom” during one of the many painfully long and boring scenes in “Mac and Me” (a movie in which I can remember little about). She actually went to the bathroom a few times, and finally disappeared until the end bit of the movie, when she returned. Of course, Mom and I didn’t realize what she was doing. But she was sneaking in to watch “License to Drive”. She told me all about the scenes she did see–Corey failing his written test (on a computer! how radical!), but passing his driving test, Corey sneaking out and getting into mischief. That was enough for me to be convinced I had to see this movie. 9 year olds clearly have pretty high standards for film viewing. I maintained that year that “Willow” was an instant classic. How right I was!

Of course, later that year, when it came out on home video, thanks to a neighborhood friend that recorded everything he rented onto home VHS’s, I saw “License to Drive” in all its glory. It was instantly one of my favorite movies of the 80’s, along with “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off”, “Gremlins”, “The Gooniest”, “The Monster Squad”, and “The Princess Bride”. The funny thing is, I loved most of the teen comedies that came out in the 80’s (most of them starring Molly Ringwald or John Cusack), but I wasn’t a teenager and didn’t understand their situations pretty much at all. I didn’t really think of girls “that way” yet, they mostly just bugged the hell out of me and were tattle tellers. But these movies were fantastic!

And “License to Drive” was one of the best ones ever! I even went on a mashed potatoes and ketchup binge once or twice, until I realized how disgusting it was. I wanted to change my name to Les (not realizing how horrendous the full name of that abbreviation is). I wanted to take a driving test on one of those computers! And for some reason, I wanted to go on a date with Mercedes. I wanted to “get out of her dreams and into her car”, as it were.

But those days are long gone now. It’s twenty years later, Corey Haim is now the victim of excess and Hollywood binging, Core Feldman is just a jerk, and “License to Drive” is now an “old” movie. I recently caught it on one of the many movie channels there are on Comcast cable (remember when it was just HB0?), and once again, recaptured my youth for an hour and a half. The interesting thing was, I not only was appreciating it on the level of nostalgia, and laughing at how 80’s the movie was–but I was catching things I had missed when I saw it when I was too young to “get” most of what was going on, especially with being a teenager. See, unfortunately, by the time I became the age of Les Anderson, it was the mid-90’s, and the 80’s were not old enough to be vintage. If you were watching “License to Drive”, you had some problems, or you were “stuck” in the past.

Now, of course, since it’s been so long, the 80’s are the new 70’s. There is so much nostalgia and enough time has passed that the 80’s era can be appreciated. Trust me, if you were wearing a Nintendo shirt in 1996, you were castrated. I speak from experience. Because of this new found nostalgia, we can look back at movies like “License to Drive”, and find ourselves again. In some cases we can find a few versions of ourself. The too-young-to-appreciate innocence, and the one in which we know how funny drunk driving can be–if it’s an old man, and not you.

So I suggest a viewing of “License to Drive” now if you’re between the ages of 27-37, because all of you know what I’m talking about, and some of you were old enough to appreciate what was going on between Les and Dean, and probably went to a few “Archie’s” yourselves. Treat yourself to some nostalgia, and laugh again at how awesomely cool this movie was.