1985 was a fine year for Hollywood. Icons fell under the stampede for sequels while future classics were created. It’s time to look back.
In the coming weeks the HeyUGuys team will focus on some of best from ’85, exploring their legacy and capturing something of their enduring essence.
We’ve already watched a boxer win the Cold War, shone a light on an oft-forgotten Disney outing, hung out in a pool with Steve Guttenberg, endured bad Bond, enjoyed a Cruise Curry, drew First Blood for second time, reunited with The Brat Pack, got a keg of beer with a wolf, learned to hate vacation, gone back in time, fell asleep again to Freddy, and today, to close, it’s our time…
It’s been thirty years since its release and yet The Goonies remains a firm favourite amongst countless adults who grew up in the 80s and early 90s. It’s a seminal kids-own adventure movie that transports a whole generation back to a time of long summer days where you’d set out with your friends and desperately wish you could find a treasure map and long lost pirate gold along the way.
The Goonies didn’t arrive with any excessively great hype or expectation surrounding it. There was always going to be a fair amount of interest however given the calibre of the creative team involved. Steven Spielberg, fresh off a run of hits that included Raiders of the Lost Ark, E.T. and The Temple of Doom, came up with the initial story and served here as Executive Producer. Screenwriter Chris Columbus had recently penned Gremlins, another Spielberg Exec-Produced effort, and director Richard Donner was a household name after the success of Superman and Superman 2.
This meeting of minds was a tantalising prospect and while Donner’s part should not be underplayed, Spielberg’s trademark sense of wide-eyed wonder permeates through the entire movie. It took the adventure of an Indiana Jones flick and the kid-centric POV of E.T. and forged them together to triumphant effect.
The child stars were largely all unknowns at the time of their casting. They were cast largely down to their compatibility to their character’s assigned stereotype as opposed to any past experience. It was credit to Donner that he managed to pull this team of rowdy teens together and elicit from them such strong performances in what was for the majority of them, a big screen debut.
The movie took an impressive $9million in its opening weekend, coming second only to Rambo: First Blood Part II. By the end of 1985, it had taken $61million, earning it a place in the top ten highest grossing movies of the year. No mean feat for a kid’s movie finding itself in a stellar year for summer blockbusters.
The critics were far from unanimous in their reaction however. While some fell under its spell immediately, others were less sure. Roger Ebert largely praised the film, commending Spielberg on finding a special midpoint between adult and kids movies, but he also noted that it does perhaps offer far more to the latter with only minimal appeal to the former. There were plenty who were unequivocal in their dislike however; with many suggesting that the movie relied far too heavily on sentimentality and the end product was a little too chaotic.
The success of this movie lay not in its critical reception however; rather it stemmed from its target audience embracing it so fully. Imagine being a 12 year old kid and seeing this for the first time. Treasure maps, hidden gold, booby-traps, sticking it to the bullies, pirate ships, skeletons. It’s a joyous melting pot of escapism that tapped right into the mind-set of its young audience.
The reason for The Goonies longevity is that a generation of kids have grown up remembering how it made them feel when they saw it for the first time.
The Goonies swiftly became the benchmark for family friendly adventure movies. There was by no means a slew of inferior knock-offs however. It remained a unique masterpiece of sorts, unrivalled by any pretenders to the throne. In recent times there are perhaps a few more movies that have sought to tap into a similar spirit though, Super 8 and Kings of Summer particularly spring to mind.
Yet in many respects The Goonies remains thankfully free of imitation. It’s pretty much nigh on impossible however to now make a movie about a bunch of kids in a small American town going out and getting into scrapes and not harking back to Astoria and the Goon Docks.
The cast have had varying degrees of success since the movie’s release. Josh Brolin of course is an Academy Award nominated actor, Sean Astin found success as Samwise Gamgee and Corey Feldman went on to star in just about every definitive 80s kids movie of note. Jeff Cohen meanwhile, he of Chunk and the truffle shuffle fame, is currently an entertainment lawyer. Yet if Richard Donner is to be believed its possible he may one day return to acting in a long-rumoured Goonies sequel. It’s hard to gauge just how serious this suggestion is, but the prospect of a belated sequel three decades on does feel like a bit of a gamble. It remains to be seen if they would be able to recapture the magic in this modern age where CGI and spectacle so often take precedence at the expense of heart.
The Goonies more than deserves its status as a true family classic. It is however a film that perhaps needs to be enjoyed at a certain age in order to be fully adored. A friend of mine recently watched it for the first time as an adult and just couldn’t get into it at all. I can understand this (to a degree), as perhaps it can appear schmaltzy and silly to modern adult eyes. However even today’s kids can’t help but be swept along for the ride when they watch it for the first time. That spirit, the essence of adventure, has not dulled over the years.
For us adults who occasionally need to revisit their childhood and reconnect with what it meant to be a bored kid waiting for something to happen in their sleepy town, there remains no better film.
If you want to win a fine looking 30th anniversary Blu-ray of the film click below….
Read on about other classmates from 1985…
Most Likely to cause insomnia:
Most Likely to suffer from an Oedipus complex:
Most Likely to ruin Europe for good:
Most Likely to Win in the End:
Most Likely to get your Man in Motion:
Most Likely to make an inappropriate joke while arching an eyebrow: