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The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that The Goonies is a rambunctious, noisy, pirate-themed treasure-hunt action-fantasy -- all the ingredients that kids will love. Kids are in peril, find a dead body, are being hunted by thieves who are after their treasure map, and fall into all kinds of trouble. Beyond the (now-dated) special effects, cavernous (literally) sets, stunts, hideous skeletons, and outsized props, there's a message about being yourself and bonding with your friends and siblings -- even if they're outcasts. Some stereotyping -- the fat kid, the jock older brother, the Asian who's a gadget fanatic, etc. A physically disabled grown man is considered a "monster" by his family and is chained up under the stairs. Expect some vulgar humor and swearing (including "s--t"). There are jokes about a nude classical statue's genitalia, and a teen boy adjusts his rearview mirror to see up a cheerleader's skirt. The movie may be too scary for some kids, so know your kid before you watch.
What's the story?
THE GOONIES is set in a coastal town in the Pacific Northwest, where a homey, slightly ramshackle neighborhood called the Goondocks is threatened with foreclosure and redevelopment by nasty yuppies. Local kids, motley outcasts known as "goonies," are cleaning out when they find a treasure map and clues to the legendary loot of a 17th-century pirate chieftain, `One-Eyed Willie.' With that kind of windfall the goonies could save their homes. Clues lead the kids beneath a closed-down restaurant, lair of a crime family of counterfeiters, who keep a super-strong, monstrously-deformed son, known as Sloth (the late football star John Matuszak), chained in the basement. The bad guys chase after the children, who must negotiate a number of deadly Rube Goldberg booby-traps set centuries ago by One-Eyed Willie, as they explore through a maze of underground caverns and skeleton-strewn chambers (always nicely lit, somehow). Fortunately, a captured goonie, the fat, clumsy Chunk (Jeff Cohen) befriends Sloth, who lumbers to the whole gang's rescue.
Is it any good?
Imagine the Bad News Bears in the Temple of Doom of the Caribbean. That sums up this rambunctious, 1980s adventure romp from Steven Spielberg's production company and screenwriter Chris Columbus (himself later to direct the Harry Potter features). Director Richard Donner (whose Superman: The Movie is made the subject of one gag reference) got solid performances out of an ensemble of young talent -- Mikey (Sean Astin), Brand (Josh Brolin), Mouth (Corey Feldman), Chunk, Data (Jonathan Ke Quan). While Mikey's older sibling Brand tries to disassociate himself from the misfit goonies and hang out with the cooler guys at high school, by the end of the movie he's bonded with his kid brother. Of course, little emotional details like that are sometimes lost with the theme-park-scale waterfalls, waterslides, drawbridges, and a full-sized treasure ship around which the plot is erected.
Jonathan Ke Quan had just starred as the engaging little-boy sidekick opposite Harrison Ford in the blockbuster Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, and it's easy to pigeonhole The Goonies as much the same material, with less onscreen gore and pitched more obviously at the elementary-school and junior-high audience. And while there's nothing too wrong with that, The Goonies does feel every bit as long as its 114 minutes and contains some pretty obnoxious commercial-product placements and "cute" swearing. And no Johnny Depp or Harrison Ford in the cast to outdo the special effects, though the makeup people did a pretty good job on the grotesque Sloth.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the excitement within The Goonies. What about the film inspires adventure in your kid?
What kind of bond do these friends have? Are the characters relatable?
- In theaters: April 6, 1985
- On DVD or streaming: September 14, 2000
- Cast: Corey Feldman, Josh Brolin, Sean Astin
- Director: Richard Donner
- Studio: Warner Bros.
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- Topics: Adventures, Friendship, Misfits and underdogs, Pirates
- Character strengths: Curiosity, Perseverance, Teamwork
- Run time: 114 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG
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