Monday, January 25, 2010

The Goonies: Treasure Time!

Good enough for you, it’s good enough for me, it’s gooooood enough, good enough for me-e, yeah yeah yeah yeah yeaa-ah. Oh Cyndi Lauper. Her song has been stuck in my head all weekend long. But I don’t mind one bit as I write about today’s favorite movie. You guessed it – “The Goonies”.

Released in 1985, it is the adventurous story of group of kids, known as the Goonies, who follow a map in search of a legendary pirate’s lost treasure. It stars Sean Astin (pre-Samwise Gamgee), Josh Brolin (in his big screen debut), Corey Feldman, Kerri Green, Martha Plimpton, Joe Pantoliano, and many more great actors. Produced by Steven Spielberg and directed by Richard Donner, this became a true cult phenomenon.

Now I’m sure most people know this movie well, at least every kid who grew up in the 80s. What a dream adventure! With the popularity of the Indiana Jones movies, this was the archeological race for the pre-teen crowd. You didn’t need a PhD. You didn’t need to worry about Nazis (just the Fratellis). All you needed was a bike, some friends, and a lot of luck…oh, and Sloth. Also, what kid doesn’t love pirates!? I thoroughly believe this movie is the reason for the Pirates of the Caribbean movies. We 80s kids grew up and became the storytellers ourselves, with kids of our own. What parent wouldn’t want to share some of that adventure and fun we experienced with our kids? I definitely remember wanting to go on my own treasure hunt myself. Unfortunately, there aren’t that many caves in the small Texas town where I grew up.

Oddly enough, though, this movie wasn’t considered a success in 1985, at least not in the sense that the creators were hoping. Screenwriter Chris Columbus had just come off the success of his previous film, “Gremlins,” which grossed $145 million, and the studio was hoping for a repeat. Sadly, “Goonies” only managed to gross $61 million. However, it has grown into such a cult favorite today that there are even fan festivals in Astoria, Oregon, where the film was shot and takes place.

And who wouldn’t want to celebrate those moments, like Data (Ke Huy Quan of “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom” fame) sliding down into the Walsh house, right through the screen door. Or Chunk (Jeff Cohen) breaking down under torture and spilling out every bad thing he ever did (click here to view). Or even the moment we finally see the pirate ship. By the way, that was a fully-built ship, with all the masts and levels complete, sitting in a full lagoon. (It was modeled after Erroll Flynn’s ship in “The Sea Hawk,” the film Sloth watches in his cell.) No green-screen digital effects like in today’s movies (though there are some obvious painted-effects moments, but hey, it was the 80s.)

Donner and Spielberg tried to keep the filming as fun and true as possible for the kids, and you can tell in their acting. The filming mainly took place in sequential order, which is rare in films, over 5 months. None of the kids were allowed to see the pirate ship before they filmed finding it, to keep their reactions pure. Spielberg even treated them to some amazing perks during filming, like inviting Michael Jackson and his family to the set to meet them, then sending them to Dodger stadium to watch his Victory tour. Or after filming, flying them all to Hawaii to surprise Donner with a wrap party barbeque.

And this was an adventure the cast and crew never wanted to forget. Donner kept pirate One-Eyed Willie’s head and the model of the ship in his office. Sean Astin was allowed to keep the treasure map, but sadly, one day many years later, his mom Patty Duke found it and thought it was just a crumpled piece of paper and threw it away. Some of the kids even tried to take some of the doubloons home, but unfortunately they were caught and had to give them back. And if you want a truly special keepsake from this movie, try and find the 12” LP single of “Eight Arms to Hold You,” the song playing during the deleted octopus scene. Thought by the creators to become a huge dance hit, the single was cut. Unfortunately, it bombed miserably, so the LP is one of the rarest collectibles in Goonie trading.

So if you’re still in that nostalgic mood, or just want to watch something that’s about nothing but pure fun, check out “The Goonies” this week. Because Goonies never say die.

(Post-tidbit: After filming, the pirate ship was offered to anyone who would take it, but no one wanted it. Can you believe that?! Who doesn’t want their own pirate ship?!? The ship was consequently scrapped because of this. *sniff*)


  1. I would've taken it!! I didn't know. Nobody asked me.