"That's what I said. I said Booty-traps."—Data
For the uninitiated it is a mystery. For the fans it is a classic. For me it is a quintessential film from the 1980s. It is the The Goonies.
For a generation of adults, The Goonies is one of the greatest kid fantasies ever put on celluloid. What child didn't grow up dreaming about an adventure that would take them through winding tunnels, decaying pirate ships and deadly booby traps in search of priceless rubies? Since its release in 1985, The Goonies has amassed a following of movie devotees who, until now, were forced to watch The Goonies on grainy pan and scan VHS videos. Warner Brothers has finally done the right and noble thing by releasing The Goonies in its original aspect ratio. Filled to capacity with all kinds of extra features, I am happy to report that The Goonies DVD has been well worth the wait!
Facts of the Case
Local residents of Astoria, Oregon, are about to see their cherished homes go up in collection of smoke and rubble. Known as the "The Goondocks," some snobby businessmen are about to shove some families out of their homes to make way for a new golf course. Most devastating will be the disruption of a local group of children who have banded together, nicknaming themselves "The Goonies." Not only are The Goonies about to lose their homes, but also their friendships, as they're forced to disband and move on to other towns and homes.
While spending some final quality time together, the kids come across an old map in an attic. Legend has it that the map is a compass for priceless treasure that once belonged to the infamous pirate "One Eyed Willie." Since The Goonies is coming to an end, Mikey (Sean Astin) suggests that The Goonies head on one final adventure together in search of the lost treasure. Maybe, he suggests, they can use their findings to save their homes.
With Mikey leading the way, the map points them to an old abandoned restaurant. There they accidentally meet up with the notorious Fratelli family (Anne Ramsey, Joe Pantoliano and Robert Davi), a gang of robbing fugitives. Quickly giving the Fratellis the slip, The Goonies are led into an underground maze filled with booby traps, treacherous cliffs and freaky surprises. To make matters worse, the Fratellis are hot on their trail.
The Goonies are up to their eyeballs in trouble. With only final adventure left, they're going to need all the luck, wit, and strength they can muster to find the treasure and beat the Fratellis!
I recently had the chance to catch a midnight screening of The Goonies with some friends at the Rialto Theater in Pasadena, California. We arrived about a half hour ahead of time to get tickets, and to our surprise were greeted by a line stretching around the corner and down the street. I'd never seen such a crowd show up for a single movie (and one that was made over 15 years ago at that). Once we got the tickets and were seated we were instantly bombarded with people reciting lines in unison, laughing and cheering to the antics of the kids on screen. No one, it seemed, just sat back and watched the movie. It was like The Rocky Horror Picture Show: The Next Generation. It was a jubilant event to say the least.
If you haven't seen The Goonies you're probably wondering what all the fuss was about in the theater. I'll tell you what I think it is: nostalgia. There are only a handful of childhood movies that I can vividly recall where and when I saw them. The Goonies is one of those movies. It is rare for a movie to evoke such a flood of memories. The sets, the music, and the performances—they all seem to define a generation. I don't throw around the phrase "lightning in a bottle" lightly, but it really does apply to this movie. The Goonies was, and is, something special.
Nostalgia aside, The Goonies is still rambunctious entertainment. The script by Chris Columbus (Adventures In Babysitting) is peppered with funny situations and swashbuckling adventure. The Goonies is a combination of pirate adventure, teen comedy and Disney-like magic. Director Richard Donner (Lethal Weapon, Maverick) never lets the film sink into saccharine sweetness nor harsh cynicism. The performers are all funny and wonderful, including the kids made up of a diverse and goofy group of youths: their leader Mikey (Astin); his big brother Brand (Josh Brolin); Brand's love interest Andy (Kerri Green); her best friend Stef (Martha Plimpton); the smart-ass, aptly named "Mouth" (Feldman); the fat kid, also aptly named "Chunk" (Jeff Cohen); and wiz kid Data (Jonathan Ke Quan). Unlike most bland kid's films these days, The Goonies had an eclectic cast of zany characters brimming with personality and clever dialogue. Once the kids start off on their adventure, the pace hardly ever lets up. Whether they're dodging falling rocks or the Fratelli family, The Goonies is always has a sense of fun and wonder. The late Anne Ramsey deserves special mention for her portrayal of Ma Fratelli, a gruff, burley woman who has some of the funniest lines in the film (you try not laughing when Ma Fratelli quietly quips, "Kids suck"). Her bumbling sons played by Joe Pantoliano (The Matrix) and Robert Davi (Predator 2) are also good for more than a few laughs, getting more mileage out of Pantoliano's toupee than ever thought imaginable.
And then there is the mammoth known as Sloth. Probably the most memorable character from The Goonies, Sloth is a disfigured giant who has the face of a monster and the heart of a child. Played touchingly by late ex-football player John Matuzack, Sloth almost stole the show as Chunk's humorous new best friend. Much like Sloth, The Goonies is a funny and warm tale about the strength of friendship and the power of imaginative adventure.
The Goonies is presented in 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen. After years of being forced to view The Goonies in pan and scan, fans can now see the whole dang thing the way it was meant to be seen! Richard Donner did a fantastic job of utilizing the scope of widescreen to include wondrous sights and sets. The transfer for The Goonies shows only a few imperfections, most of them stemming from the age of the film. There were some instances of muted colors and slight grain, but it was usually in very minor amounts. However, these problems are small in comparison to how good the image looks. Kudos to Warner and Dick Donner for doing grade-A work on a grade-A title!
Audio is presented in a newly remixed Dolby Digital 5.1 track, as well as Dolby Surround 2.0 in English and French. This newly created Dolby 5.1 track is a great example of what can be done with older films when they are given special treatment. The track is very directional, using all the speakers and encompassing the viewer with great fidelity. Though there are some signs of age (distortion was detected in a few areas), The Goonies still benefits from this remastered track. Also included is a Dolby Digital Mono 1.0 track in Spanish, as well as English, French, Spanish and Portuguese subtitles.
What I consider to be the best part about this new Goonies DVD are the bounty of extra features. The first and best is a video/audio commentary by director Richard Donner and all SEVEN original Goonies! This is a real treat to get the entire group together for a recording, and the track doesn't disappoint. Though Corey Feldman tends to be a tad obnoxious at times (and funny, especially when he introduces himself as "Corey Haim"), this track provides fun insight into the making of the film. The entire cast seems thrilled to be watching it after all this time, and there is a sense of camaraderie and fun present in the recording. As a bonus (and one of the reasons this track is so good), Warner has included videotaped scenes from the recording session! At certain points during the movie the screen shrinks into the corner, allowing viewers the chance to watch Donner and the cast comment on what's going on. This was also included on Kevin Smith's Mallrats, though not to the point where you were able to see the cast AND the film at the same time. This is a great extra and I'm thrilled it was included on the disc.
Next up is a Cyndi Lauper video for "The Goonies 'R' Good Enough." This two-part video originally aired on MTV during the theatrical release of The Goonies. The first half was shown before The Goonies opened, and the second half after the film hit theaters (totaling around twelve minutes). The two-part video was directed by Richard Donner (utilizing many of the cast members and sets), and includes a special guest appearance by a surprising filmmaker! This video is a real hoot, featuring Lauper running around on a Goonies-like adventure. Since this was also the heyday of WWF Wrestling, superstars like "Rowdy" Roddy Piper, The Iron Sheik and "Captain" Lou Albano also show up for some musical hi-jinks. A very funny and worthwhile extra feature.
A "Making of The Goonies" featurette is included, and like the rest of the bonus material ends up being a real find. Though it's obvious this was used for promotion, the short is a good way for fans to get a look at what went on behind the scenes (including some footage of scenes that were cut from the finished film). Interviews with both director Richard Donner and producer Steven Spielberg provide a few laughs. Three "Outtakes" are included, the highlight being the famed "octopus scene" that is mentioned in the movie but never seen. Personally I can understand why these were cut, though they are a lot of fun to finally see. Lastly there is a section including cast and crew info, plus the original theatrical trailer for The Goonies presented in anamorphic widescreen.
The Rebuttal Witnesses
What you talkin' 'bout, Willis? I'm sure there are negative things YOU can think of to say about The Goonies, but I can't think of anything. Maybe it's because I'm on an all-time high with The Goonies finally arriving on DVD!
You should be able to find The Goonies for well under twenty dollars at most stores that carry DVDs. For my money, The Goonies is as good a buy as you're apt to find in DVD. This is a movie that should bring back happy memories, and who knows…maybe someday you'll be watching it with your own kids! Warner has done a commendable job on this DVD. With a great transfer, a nice Dolby 5.1 remix, and some groovy extra features, The Goonies will make you feel like you've found your own pirates booty!
To quote Ms. Lauper, "The Goonies 'R' good enough."
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Warner Bros.
• Behind-The-Scenes Documentary "The Making of The Goonies"
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