This Thursday, the Alamo Drafthouse in Mason Park is hosting another in their series of movie "quote-alongs." This is nothing new, as they do these events quite regularly. However, what is so special about this month's quote-along is that the movie being quoted along to is none other than one of the greatest movies of all time -- The Goonies! I hate to make broad generalizations about culture, but it is a challenge to find a person who grew up in the 1980s and feels anything other than glowing wonderment in regards to this film. When it comes to kids' adventure movies, The Goonies is bar none.
In thinking about what makes this movie so special, I've come to realize that it is because it has never really been emulated, properly anyway. Since The Goonies' release in 1985, there have been many kids' adventure films. Some have even been compared to the Richard Donner masterpiece, but they have all missed the mark in some way or another. Don't get me wrong; there are a surplus of fantastic kids' adventure movies out there, but there is something about The Goonies that sets it apart from its contemporaries. And it has nothing to do with how cute Sean Astin used to be.
After some serious thought, I've come up with five reasons as to why The Goonies is the best kids' adventure movie of all time.
5. It could totally happen, pretty much
The concept behindThe Goonies
is not all that far-fetched. A bunch of kids are trying to save their homes, and stumble on a treasure map in their attic. This is possible. One time I found a copy of the movieTango and Snatch
in my attic and had no idea how it could have gotten there.
The map leads them to an old restaurant that happens to be a hideout for a family of criminals. Sure, why not? Fugitives have to hide out somewhere. The kids are able to power through, making it past a series of bizarre tests and booby traps, to find their way to a pirate ship and hidden treasure. Again, while a hidden treasure is not an everyday occurrence, neither is an $85,000 phone bill and that just happened.
Point being, while some of the aspects to this film are extraordinary, they are not completely implausible like in some other children's movies. E.T. is a wonderful movie, but aliens are not showing up in your backyard and making your Huffy fly. And your parents are not secret retired spies who will be captured by a TV star in order to help him develop an army of kid-powered robots, à la Spy Kids.
4. They are regular kids
One of the beautiful things about the Goon Dock crew is that the current complication, the foreclosure of their homes, is totally relatable. They are a bunch who come from working-class families. What child wouldn't want to help out their hard-working parents from being bought out by upper-class snootiness? They are not rich nor do they live in mansions like the subject of so many '80s films. The Goonies live in regular houses that have attics filled with junk.
They are good seeds, who know two languages and use inhalers. These teens are about as normal as they come. So many children's movies create heroes with unbelievable skills. There always seems to be a super-genius in the mix to turn a dream about space travel into a working spacecraft that you all take to Mars. Did anyone ever have a friend that smart? Of course not, because smart kids hang out with other smart kids in laboratories. The Goonies only had Data, and his inventions barely worked. 3. The fat kid is a hero
One of the most heartwarming aspects toThe Goonies
is Chunk's relationship with the emotionally and physically abused Sloth. From the start of the film, Chunk is mocked heavily, albeit lovingly. He is known to be a liar around town and overall a disrespected character. Chunk has a strength, though, that none of the other children have: He keeps Baby Ruths in his pocket. Chunk understands the human bond over good food and good conversation, and this is what saves his life. In the end, if not for Chunk, the Goonie gang may not have made it out alive.
Fat dudes in such movies usually wind up being the butt of the joke. Rarely are they a main character, especially one that saves the day. In Stand By Me, Jerry O'Connel's "Vern" was a bumbling, forgetful mess of a guy from beginning to end. His biggest accomplishment is bringing a comb in case the boys wind up on TV and dropping hamburger meat in a fire. Chunk is a lover and a fighter.
2. The Fratellis aren't total morons
Bad guys in children's flicks are normally portrayed as the world's biggest dumbasses ever. TakeHome Alone
, for example; the two crooks fall for just about anything Kevin McAllister throws at them, including paint cans. These guys are very successful burglars; are they really that stupid?
The Fratellis are a different sort. They have their moments of stupidity, but overall they are cunning and calculating. Mom Fratelli is as manipulative as they come, as she should be. Fugitives on the run must have their wits about them.
Additionally, the Fratellis are just mean people. Most antagonists in children's movies have some grander reason for evil doings, like taking over the world or ridding the wizarding world of Muggle or some such nonsense. The Fratellis are just plain old jerks who steal stuff and beat up their brother, which is much more respectable than any old half-blood wizard any day.
1. They never made a Goonies 2
As I write this, they are probably in preproduction. There have been rumors swirling around over the past five or so years that there would definitely be aGoonies
part deux, but, to date, this classic film has not jumped the shark into franchise territory.
When the film was released in 1985, it ranked as one of the top-grossing films of the year, so the fact that Donner left well enough alone is surprising. I really cannot in my wildest dreams imagine a Goonies 2, and if one happened I am sure it would have been/will be terrible. Most sequels by nature are appalling, but attempting to follow up this movie would be disastrous.
Would the whole thing be set in New York City, with the Goonies running amuck through the Lower East Side? Would they run into the Fratellis, who have just opened a pizza parlor but are still out to get revenge? Would we find Chunk eating his way through Little Italy? Or maybe Data winds up in Chinatown and he sells one of his inventions to the old man from Gremlins? Hey, maybe they should make a sequel after all.
Last reason...it has the best theme song of all time.
The Goonies is playing Thursday, May 10, at the Alamo Drafthouse Mason Park and Wednesday, May 23, at the West Oaks location. Both shows are at 7:30 p.m. For more information, visit drafthouse.com.
Keep the Houston Press Free... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Houston with no paywalls.