Written by: Chris Columbus
Starring: Sean Astin, Josh Brolin, Jeff Cohen, Corey Feldman, Kerri Green, Martha Plimpton
There lies a fine balance between films directed towards kids that work specifically for the age range and those transcending where everyone can find enjoyment in them. Only the best can hit both demographics and as lovable as The Goonies tries to be, it just cannot work for someone watching this for the first time as an adult. Yes, it can be a nice soft spot of nostalgia with its whimsy and adventurous mood, but as a film, it ends up being quite the chore at times.
With the threat of his house being foreclosed Mikey (Sean Astin) and the rest of the Goonies find a treasure map that could lead to the gold once held by One-eyed Willy. As they break away from their supervision they head out to find this treasure, to end the possible foreclosure as they face resistance from the Fratellis family, who just broke out of prison trying to get some of the treasure for their own.
A largely beloved movie, The Goonies has remained a nostalgic favorite for those who grew up with it, and even to this day, those individuals would still fight for its place as a good film. In full transparency, I never watched this film until going to college, and to be completely honest, it really left much to be desired as a feature film. I completely understand what makes it so lovable in the eyes of those who watched it as children and the magic it conjured for them, but this viewing experience just felt like watching a bunch of kids scream over each other and go on one of the most hilariously overcomplicated journeys I have seen kids take on.
This review should not be considered a pan, because I overall see this as a decent film even to the point where I’m giving it a positive score. Its message works well for kids as it imposes a problem seemingly out of their control and gives them something to do about it. Foreclosures are barely understood by the average American adult, but the concept for a child seems out of this world. All it means for Mikey and his friends is he’ll have to move away, which he certainly does not want to do. In most real-life circumstances, there’s nothing a kid could practically do, but this film creates the fantasy of the possibility of finding buried treasure to solve it all. Wishful thinking but one that ultimately makes this feature endearing as a whole while the sum of its parts could have been much better.
The cast assembled for this feature has close ties to the success they found in this film as it made them celebrities in the 1980s. From small beginnings here, many of them went on to have such illustrious careers. If you know me you would understand my love for Sean Astin and his portrayal of Samwise Gamgee in The Lord of the Rings trilogy. He does well enough as a child actor here even if most of what he receives can be boiled down to yelling over his other friends. Other cast members include Josh Brolin, Martha Plimpton, Jeff Cohen, and Corey Feldman among others. They create an adorable bunch of kids who create this whimsical adventure and they cannot take the blame for the lack of magic this has retained throughout the years.
However, with all of the energy this film contains, it falters when being fully engaging with its story. As adventurous as it wants to be it remains narrow in scope and being so reliant on child actors makes it quite the chore to get through. Many of these actors become quite good at their craft but it does not show out particularly well in this feature. Typically, having child actors complement others helps add a pinch of the innocence and naivety of a child’s way of thinking. However, this feature features mostly them for the entire runtime and the lack of acting nuance became quite difficult to sit through. The blame does not lie with the actors themselves seeing as they are children but more so a conceit one must accept when framing narrative mainly around children.
I would never begrudge those who will always love The Goonies because it works perfectly as a film directed towards kids, but as it translates to a larger appeal, it fails in replicating it beyond what young ones would adore. The film contains all of these great ingredients but as someone who watched for the very first time, it merely stands as a decent film filled with plenty of whimsy but nothing groundbreaking. Its impact in the deluge of 80s nostalgia in the 2010s cannot be questioned but it just does not stand up to the test of time as a feature film, which this review sets to analyze.