Aug 19, 2011

24FPS Top 100: No. 52

52: THE GOONIES [1985]
DIR: Richard Donner
Why is it on the list?
Just to get the obvious question out of the way. Yes. Really. I know that The Goonies is a silly kids movie, I know some of the dialogue clunks, but like a great many of my generation, though I only saw it on video, it became one of the defining films and fond memories of my childhood. But that's not why it makes the list...

The Goonies is here because it's still just as exhilarating, still just as much fun as it ever was, 26 years after it was made and a good two decades since I first saw it. For me it's both a part of my childhood and a film I still love to watch; an adventure I still enjoy going on with these kids. That's probably what caught my imagination the first time I saw it; these kids weren't much older than I was at the time, and here they were, going on the kind of adventures that we all ran around our back gardens pretending we were going on.

It also doesn't hurt that the cast, while not all the greatest actors in the world, are all clearly having fun, and have great chemistry as a group. The characters all have their own niche in the group, and with most of them you'll be able to look at your own group of friends and say 'Yeah, I was Mikey', or Mouth, or Chunk. Everyone acquits themselves well, but it's the younger members of the group (Sean Astin, Corey Feldman, Ke Huy Quan and Jeff Cohen) who get to have the most fun and nab all of the best lines as older brother Brand (a debuting Josh Brolin) and token girls Andie (Kerri Green) and Stef (Martha Plimpton, who once had 'Goonies never say die' shouted in her direction as she was playing the lead role in Hedda Gabler) mostly look on and follow behind.

The performances may not be Oscar worthy, but all of them are entertaining, with Feldman's quick-witted Mouth and Jeff Cohen as roly poly Chunk making the biggest impressions and nabbing many of the best lines. Cohen, in particular, is a delight and hilariously funny. While the others go off in search of buried treasure, Chunk is trapped in the house of villainous family The Fratelli's (Anne Ramsey, Robert Davi and Joe Pantoliano), who interrogate him in one of the film's funniest scenes. In a sweet and funny twist, Chunk also befriends the last Fratelli; deformed brother Sloth (John Matusak), who is locked in the basement, and takes him along when he goes to find and save his friends. This, of course, also leads to the film's most famous moment; Sloth's battle cry (for a fight between the Goonies and the Fratelli's aboard a pirate ship) of 'Hey You Guys!'.

The Goonies is a ride; a rollercoaster that straps you in and takes you from set piece (the wishing well) to set piece (the bone organ) to set piece (the pirate ship). It slows down occasionally, just to let you catch your breath (and to develop the romantic interest between Brolin and Green, and the animosity between Feldman and Plimpton, both of which the film mines for comedy) but for the most part this is a wild, and wildly fun, ride.

I don't envy director Richard Donner the task of marshalling this young cast, but he does it brilliantly, while also making sure the thrills and the laughs don't stop - no surprise there from the man who would make Lethal Weapon two years later. The action scenes are well staged, and the film is often stunning to look at, with Donner making the most of the outstanding production design, which becomes more and more a character in its own right as the film goes on.

When I watch The Goonies (and I watch it often), I get a warm glow. Seeing this film is like visiting old friends, going on an adventure, and revisiting an old crush (oh Kerri Green, why didn't you make more movies?), and to some degree that's what the cinema is all about, or what it should be about.

Standout Scenes
Chunk Confesses

Truffle Shuffle

And, as a bonus: a Goonies reunion (just as an aside, how stunning is Kerri Green 25 years on?)

Memorable Lines
Mama Fratelli: There it is. Okay Jake you first.
Jake Fratelli: I ain't going down there mama. Are you kidding me?
Mama Fratelli: [Cocking the handle back on the gun and pointing it at Jake] Go!
Jake Fratelli: I can't argue with that mama.

Francis Fratelli: Tell us everything! Everything!
Chunk: Everything. OK! I'll talk! In third grade, I cheated on my history exam. In fourth grade, I stole my uncle Max's toupee and I glued it on my face when I was Moses in my Hebrew School play. In fifth grade, I knocked my sister Edie down the stairs and I blamed it on the dog... When my mom sent me to the summer camp for fat kids and then they served lunch I got nuts and I pigged out and they kicked me out... But the worst thing I ever done - I mixed a pot of fake puke at home and then I went to this movie theater, hid the puke in my jacket, climbed up to the balcony and then, t-t-then, I made a noise like this: hua-hua-hua-huaaaaaaa - and then I dumped it over the side, all over the people in the audience. And then, this was horrible, all the people started getting sick and throwing up all over each other. I never felt so bad in my entire life.
Jake Fratelli: I'm beginning to like this kid, Ma!
Mama Fratelli: [tired of Chunk's stalling] Hit puree!

Mikey: Goonies never say die!

[Mouth is "translating" Mrs. Walsh's instructions for Rosalita]
Irene Walsh: Pants and shirts go in the... oh, forget about it. Just throw everything into cardboard boxes. Clark, can you really translate all that?
Mouth: For sure, Mrs. Walsh.
Mouth: [in Spanish] The marijuana goes in the top drawer. The cocaine and speed go in the second drawer. And the heroin goes in the bottom drawer. Always separate the drugs.

Mikey: [sees that a dropped statue's penis has broken off] Oh my GOD! That's my mom's most favourite piece!

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