Combustible Celluloid
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With: Sean Astin, Josh Brolin, Jeff Cohen, Corey Feldman, Kerri Green, Martha Plimpton, Ke Huy Quan, John Matuszak, Robert Davi, Joe Pantoliano, Anne Ramsey, Lupe Ontiveros, Mary Ellen Trainor, Keith Walker, Curtis Hanson
Written by: Chris Columbus, from a story by Steven Spielberg
Directed by: Richard Donner
MPAA Rating: PG
Running Time: 114
Date: 06/07/1985

The Goonies (1985)

3 Stars (out of 4)

Meet the Goondock Kids

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

A little like an "Indiana Jones Junior," The Goonies has recently become a cult item among Gen Xers, who fondly remember the film from their childhood or teen years. That's a relief to me, since I have always loved the film but have been wary of discussing my adoration in public.

In order to save their town from developers, a group of rowdy kids -- including Mikey (Sean Astin), Chunk (Jeff Cohen), Mouth (Corey Feldman), Data (Ke Huy Quan) -- pin all their hopes on finding an old pirate treasure supposedly hidden nearby. Mikey's older brother Brand (Josh Brolin) comes along, and two teen girls, the cute Andy (Kerri Green) and the nerdy Stef (Martha Plimpton) tag along with Brand. Unfortunately, a family of bad guys is also after the treasure, led by the sneering Mama Fratelli (Anne Ramsey), and her sons Jake (Robert Davi) and Francis (Joe Pantoliano). A good-hearted monster called Sloth (John Matuszak) also enters the picture.

Working with producer/story writer Steven Spielberg and screenwriter Chris Columbus, director Richard Donner captures a lovely New England-type autumn chill and the feeling of impulsive, misspent weekends. Overall, the film has the same sense of discovery and adventure that drove the "Indiana Jones" franchise, but sillier. The kids tease and chatter over one another, but Donner moves the action along quickly and not even the ridiculous subplots get in the way. The movie gets its best moments during the quietest moments, such as a "pee break" in a cave, and the wondrous moment when the kids first spy the pirate ship (a genuine moment, as the actors were not allowed to see the lifesize ship until the cameras rolled).

The two lead boys were the sons of actors James Brolin and John Astin, and Ke Huy Quan -- later known as Jonathan Ke Quan -- had been in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.

In 2010, Warner Home Video released the film in a glorious Blu-Ray box set for its 25th anniversary. The commentary track by all the grown-up Goonies and director Richard Donner is an absolute must, and I really enjoyed seeing the deleted scenes and the Donner-directed Cyndi Lauper music video. Warner Home Video's DVD has a gorgeous widescreen transfer with a 2.35:1 aspect ratio, so I was seeing corners of the film I hadn't seen since my trip to the theater in 1985. The box set also includes a new board game, a reproduction of the 1985 souvenir magazine (which I already own), and a copy of the Empire Magazine Goonie reunion article.

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