A and A's Movie A Day

Watching movies until we run out.

Movie 542 – The Goonies

The Goonies – August 24th, 2011

We’re on hiatus from Narnia at the moment, since the BBC productions are about three hours long each and while tonight that would work, tomorrow I do not have three hours to spend watching a movie, regardless of how nostalgic it might be. So we’re taking two days off so we can watch the BBC adaptations back to back to back over the weekend. So! We needed to pick a movie tonight. When Andy got home this evening he was a little cranky. Long days do that, and when I have a long day goodness knows I am the queen of cranky. Therefore, when picking a movie I gravitated to comfort movies and this caught my eye. Andy’s suggested it a few times and I’ve always said nah, some other time. And this is why. It is a comfort movie, more for Andy than for myself, and I didn’t want to waste it on a night when we didn’t need something fun and easy to watch. Tonight? We needed fun and we needed easy. So I’m glad we held onto it.

This is one of those movies that every geek within Andy’s generation and my generation should know. It’s a classic, and not just a classic but an underdog classic. Geeks love a story where outcasts win. I remember watching this as a kid and being just slightly too young for it to make the impact on me that it made on my peers. A couple of years later I saw it again and enjoyed it a lot more, but I think because I’d already seen it, it was just never going to make that impression. I can enjoy it and it makes me smile and I’m all for the Goonies as a group, but I can think of other movies that speak to me more and I feel a little frustrated with myself for that.

On the surface it’s an odd movie. Below the surface too, but even up top it’s got its oddities. It’s one of those stories about a nasty rich guy trying to take advantage of or shove out the poor but goodhearted family or families of the hero or heroes. This is not an uncommon plot for a movie, especially a kids’ movie. The money-grubbing adult makes a good villain, especially when they have a stuck-up jackass of a kid for the juvenile heroes of the movie to square off against directly. And so of course we have here Mr. Perkins, who is foreclosing on the houses belonging to the Goonies’ families to expand his country club, and we have his son Troy, who bullies the Goonies themselves and treats his girlfriend (who joins up with the Goonies later) like crap. There’s just a lot here that feels like it could be standard. And then there’s the adventure into a series of caves under the cliffs near the Goonies’ homes, with booby traps, treasure and a family of criminals after them.

The basic plot involves the foreclosure and the Goonies – Mikey, Mouth, Data, Chunk, Brand (Mikey’s older brother) and later Andy and Stef – going off on an adventure to try and make the most of their last weekend together. Sure, they’re going off to search for lost pirate treasure, but I get a very Swallows and Amazons sort of vibe from this adventure. They head out to follow the map more to have an adventure, not because they truly think they’ll find treasure. Sure, treasure would be amazing, but an adventure together with friends is the initial purpose. It’s only when the kids encounter the Fratellis, one of whom is an escaped convict, that things actually get dangerous. Until then it’s more imagination than reality for them. And I love that idea of a typical kids’ adventure turning into something far more real than expected. And I also love that the Goonies rise to the occasion.

Once the Goonies are in the caves, dodging booby traps set by pirate captain One-Eyed Willie, it’s sort of a chase movie. The Fratellis are behind them and the Goonies know it. But they’re also determined. The traps are silly and fun and the movie establishes a lot of the set-up for them early on with Mikey’s house’s Rube Goldberg-esque front gate. And then there’s Chunk, left behind with the Fratellis’ brother, Sloth. Now, Sloth is my one real point of discomfort with this movie. He’s a joke and a hero and a joke because he’s a hero and he’s handled largely positively, but he’s also a caricature of a physically deformed and mentally disabled man and I can’t help but think of the Toxic Avenger when I see him. I’m just not fond of the movie’s use of the character, that’s all.

Outside of that and the stereotype that is Data (and to nitpick – while his inventions might well work in theory, his materials are so flimsy they would never hold up to that sort of use), however, I do love many the characters. One of the things I really love about the movie is that it’s got some really impressively subversive stuff in it, mostly in the form of Mikey’s brother, Brand. He’s clearly a bit of a jock, what with all the working out, and he’s cute, but he doesn’t have his driver’s license and he seems to be regarded as a dork, likely because of a combination of that and the fact that he’s pretty damn smart. He’s not an easily pigeonholed character, and I love that. I love that he’s genuinely concerned about his brother. I love that he hangs out with the Goonies. I love that he’s unabashedly himself, which makes him a Goonie regardless of his age.

Despite its silliness, it’s clearly meant to be an empowering movie, and not just in a ‘they found pirate treasure and saved their homes from foreclosure’ way. It’s meant to say it’s okay to be proud of being unique. It’s okay to be yourself and embrace the things that make you you. It’s okay to make your own decisions and stand on your own two feet. I love when Andy gives Troy’s sweater back. I love Mikey’s speech at the bottom of the well. On top of the movie being a fun action and adventure story for kids, it’s also a good story about friendship and individuality and letting your freak flag fly with pride. No, it isn’t the banner I hold over myself, but I get it. And I do enjoy it.

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August 24, 2011 - Posted by | daily reviews | , , , ,

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