Should I Watch..? 'The Goonies'

Updated on December 2, 2019
Benjamin Cox profile image

Benjamin is a former volunteer DJ at his local hospital radio station. He has been reviewing films online for over fifteen years.

Film's video cover
Film's video cover | Source

What's the big deal?

The Goonies is a family adventure film released in 1985 and was written by Chris Columbus, based on a story by executive producer Steven Spielberg. The film follows a small group of friends as they hunt down a supposed stash of pirate treasure while running afoul of some local hoodlums. The film stars Sean Astin, Josh Brolin (in his cinematic debut), Corey Feldman, Jeff Cohen, Jonathan Ke Quan, Kerri Green and Martha Plimpton. While initially successful with global earnings of $124 million, the film enjoyed a revival in popularity after it was first released on Blu-ray in 2008 and continues to highly regarded among fans and critics alike as a cult hit. While efforts have been repeatedly made to produce a sequel without success so far, the original film was selected for preservation at the US National Film Registry in 2017 for its cultural, historical and aesthetic significance.


4 stars for The Goonies

What's it about?

In the Oregon city of Astoria, things are not well. A community by the Goon Docks area is facing foreclosure to make way for an expanding country club but for Mikey and his older brother Brand, this means the break-up of their close-knit group of friends known as the Goonies. As Mikey welcomes fast-talking Mouth, overweight klutz Chunk and inventive tinkerer Data round to his house for a final time, they accidentally discover a supposed treasure map that leads to the hidden stash of local pirate legend One-Eyed Willy. Realising that the treasure could prevent the sale of his family's house, Mikey convinces the others to join him in searching for the treasure so they ditch Brand (who would have snitched on his parents anyway) and head off to find the treasure.

Making their way to an abandoned restaurant by the coast, they discover that it is already home to a more modern gang of criminals - the ruthless matriarch Mama Fratelli and her two sons, the recently escaped Jake and the more quarrelsome Francis. Witnessing a possible murder at the restaurant, Mikey and the others find themselves pitched into a battle of wits against the Fratellis as well as being pursued by an angry Brand together with his cheerleader friend Andy and her friend Stef. But have the Goonies bitten off more than even Chunk could chew?


Main Cast

Sean Astin
Michael "Mikey" Walsh
Josh Brolin
Brandon "Brand" Walsh
Jeff Cohen
Lawrence "Chunk" Cohen
Corey Feldman
Clark "Mouth" Devereaux
Kerri Green
Andrea "Andy" Carmichael
Martha Plimpton
Stephanie "Stef" Steinbrenner
Jonathan Ke Quan
Richard "Data" Wang
Robert Davi
Jake Fratelli
Joe Pantoliano
Francis Fratelli
Anne Ramsey
Mama Fratelli
John Matuszak
Sloth Fratelli

Technical Info

Richard Donner
Chris Columbus*
Running Time
114 minutes
Release Date (UK)
29th November, 1985
12A (2019 re-release)
Adventure, Comedy, Family
*based on a story by Steven Spielberg
The performances and interplay between the young cast members help make the film feel organic and believable despite the plot's silliness.
The performances and interplay between the young cast members help make the film feel organic and believable despite the plot's silliness. | Source

What's to like?

Spielberg and director Richard Donner know how to entertain a crowd and together, they have crafted a wonderfully frenetic and entertaining picture that really does have something for almost everyone. The story is a fantastic yarn combining pirates, booby traps, incompetent but mean criminals and a group of friends working well together to come out on top. Thanks to some genuinely charming and natural performances from the young cast, you completely believe this implausible tale and its characters in full. Special mention must go to Cohen as the hilarious Chunk and Thanos himself (Brolin) as the elder statesman of the group, who gives the impression that he'd rather have nothing to do with the group if he had any friends his own age.

The film still looks spectacular even after all this time with sets especially looking fantastic - with the amount of vines and cobwebs covering everything as well as some frankly absurd booby traps, you can see several elements of Indiana Jones And The Temple Of Doom on display here. But the film's real strength is that it plays exactly right for its target audience of young teenagers. The film has just enough shots of skeletons popping up in the unlikeliest places to be scary and just enough shots of Green in her tennis skirt to be sexy but nothing particularly strong to worry parents. It's funny, exciting, thrilling and magical in equal measures and it's a rare family film that can provide all of that.

Fun Facts

  • One-Eyed Willy's pirate ship, The Inferno, was built from scratch for the film and was a full-size replica of a genuine sailing ship. Donner made sure that none of the child cast saw the ship before the scene when they stumble across it so their reactions when they saw it for the first time would be real. However, they were so impressed that the take was ruined and they had to shoot it again.
  • Matuszak's makeup as Sloth took 5 hours to apply including his remote-controlled eye and flexing ears. The cast were told to not get the makeup wet but during the scenes on the pirate ship, Matuszak got wet. This delayed a whole day's worth of shooting.
  • It was during the audition process for The Goonies that Corey Feldman met the late Corey Haim, who would go on to become best friends with each other. Haim auditioned for the role of Mouth which Feldman won but the two would feature alongside each other in seven films, mostly notably in The Lost Boys.

What's not to like?

Nervous parents might take umbrage with the amount of swearing in the film but I had one or two other niggles. It does run a bit longer than necessary and there are a couple of sequences that didn't feel essential to the narrative such as the rivalry between Brand and Andy with local jock and obvious creep Troy (played by Steve Antin). This may sound harsh but it kinda felt like padding - once the quest for One-Eyed Willy's treasure gets underway, the plot itself seems to stumble from one sequence to the next without much in the way of transition. So the film tries to inject any number of subplots such as the blossoming friendship between Chunk and Sloth or the developing romance between Andy and Brand into the narrative. But I personally felt that there was already enough going on - the film moves at quite a hectic pace and with kids often talking over each other in scenes, a little more cohesion would have been nice.

But despite this and the overwhelming stench of the Eighties emanating from the picture (a Purple Rain t-shirt, a Cyndi Lauper music video, etc), The Goonies doesn't really put a foot wrong. Granted, it wasn't likely to given the creative talents behind the scenes and in front of the camera but it's nice to see a film where all the pieces fall into place as they should. A final word of caution, though - unless they happened to see the film when it was first released, adult viewers are likely to feel short-changed by the film which doesn't offer as much to older viewers as it does to younger ones. For those who remember the film the first time around, the film generates a strong sense of nostalgia for a cheap pop but beyond this, it doesn't do much to engage viewers over the age of eighteen.

Hey, you guys - former NFL player Matuszak gives a charming performance as Sloth, a role which has endured in popular culture.
Hey, you guys - former NFL player Matuszak gives a charming performance as Sloth, a role which has endured in popular culture. | Source

Should I watch it?

The Goonies feels like a weird blend of Enid Blyton's Secret Seven stories and Indiana Jones, throwing a strong core group of friends on an unlikely but thrilling adventure the likes of which we rarely see these days. But despite this, it works - it's exciting and thrilling for younger viewers but daring enough to not treat children as such, a tricky thing to pull off for any film. Technically, it hasn't aged as badly as you might think and you'll struggle not to smile whenever Sloth is on screen. For families looking for a bit of danger and and adventure in their viewing habits, you could do a lot worse.

Great For: nostalgic parents, children aged from 8-15, Spielberg's reputation as master of the blockbuster

Not So Great For: anyone with facial deformities, Italian-Americans, country club owners and members

What else should I watch?

It's difficult to think of family-friendly adventure movies these days without recalling the Pirates Of The Caribbean series, although it has slowly declined in quality ever since the release of the stellar debut The Curse Of The Black Pearl. Featuring a show-stealing performance from Johnny Depp as everyone's favourite alcoholic buccaneer Jack Sparrow, the film is a delightful combination of pirate yarn, soppy romance, ghost story and mind-blowing action sequences that are as entertaining as they are physics-defying. Subsequent films may have added more villains to the story, more Jack Sparrow madness and darker overtones but the first film remains an absolute must-see.

Of course, Spielberg has been produced family friendly film for decades and continues to do so. From the heart-warming ET, The Extra Terrestrial and modern reworking of Peter Pan in Hook to more recent affairs like the CG-animated The Adventures Of Tintin and sci-fi gaming epic Ready Player One, Spielberg seems to have an uncanny ability to craft films that continue to speak to younger audiences. Donner, of course, would become a highly successful director in his own right after he struck gold with the Lethal Weapon franchise, a series of four action films starring Mel Gibson and Danny Glover as mismatched cops who are never far away from causing huge amounts of collateral damage.

© 2019 Benjamin Cox

Soap Box

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)