The Goonies, by Albert W. Vogt III

Does anyone remember when Josh Brolin (who plays Brand Walsh in The Goonies (1985)) was young? You know, the guy that played Thanos in the last two Avengers movies? Do not recognize the purple super villain for the actor? What about No Country for Old Men (2007)? I hope not. That movie is awful. Brolin played a more youthful Agent K (Tommy Lee Jones) in Men in Black 3 (1997)? Still not ringing a bell? Okay, I am sure many of you will recall that he played Cable in Deadpool 2 (2018). The point here is that Brolin has developed a reputation for playing rather gruff characters, but that is a far cry from the role he filled in the 1980s classic The Goonies.

Brand is the older brother of Mikey (Sean Astin), the boy leader of a group of pre-teen neighborhood rejects self-titled the Goonies. However, The Goonies starts off with a different band of misfits when Jake Fratelli (Robert Davi), aided by his brother Francis (Joe Pantoliano) and Mama (Anne Ramsey), breaks out of jail. Their thrilling escape seems to go unnoticed by everyone except for Lawrence “Chunk” Cohen (Jeff Cohen), the rather ravenous member of the Goonies. The rest begin to gather at the Walsh residence, where they all find out that their houses are being foreclosed upon in order to make room for a golf course. None of the kids want to leave their Northwestern home. They rally quickly, though, as only childhood enthusiasm can achieve, when they decide to raid the Walsh’s off-limits attic in search of “rich stuff.” What they find instead is a map to the local legendary pirate One Eyed Willy’s lost treasure. Over Brand’s protests (who had been put in charge of them while Mrs. Walsh (Mary Ellen Trainor) went shopping) the boys set out to follow the map to the expectant piles of gold. Standing in the way are the Fratellis, and their hideout sits atop the beginning of their route. Ignoring Chunk’s pleas for caution (and to go home for food), they wait for the criminal gang to slip away in order to begin their search in earnest. Chunk, unfortunately, gets left behind when he is accidentally trapped in a freezer. This allows him, after being interrogated by the Fratellis, to meet the . . . let’s just say really strong Sloth (John Matuszak). I will let you come up with your own way of describing this character, for now. The bond that forms between the two proves key later on when, after making it through all of One Eyed Willy’s boobytraps, the Goonies finally make it to his ship the Inferno where the skeletons of his crew watch over their pilfered loot. Just as they are filling their pockets, the Fratellis catch up with them and force them to empty those pockets once more. It is Chunk and Sloth’s intervention that save the Goonies from further harm, and they manage to get away unharmed. While this does leave the criminals to take the treasure for themselves, they spring one last trap that Mikey wisely avoided. As everyone makes it out onto a nearby beach and the authorities show up, the Goonies lament the fact that they missed the opportunity to save their homes. Yet Rosalita (Lupe Ontiveros), the Walsh’s maid, finds a stash of gems that will be enough to prevent the planned demolition. And the Fratellis are arrested to boot.

The Goonies is one of those 1980s films that both captures the time and is timeless. Perhaps the most lasting moment is when Sloth and Chunk appear to save the rest of the Goonies, and Sloth shouts the famous line, “Hey you guys!” An argument can also be made that he popularized wearing the Superman t-shirt at that time. This character, though, bears a little more analysis. When we first meet him, he is chained up in the basement of the Fratelli’s hideout and Jake is teasing him with food. As odd as this might sound (given the film is played for laughs), this scene breaks my heart every time. Eventually, Jake denies Sloth the meal, and Sloth’s mournful pleas of “Food, please,” seriously tug at my heartstrings. It also warms my heart when Mikey, though initially overeager to find the treasure, comes upon Sloth in his sad state and slides the plate of food toward him. This is a corporal act of mercy, but there is a longer Catholic tradition behind such acts. For centuries the Church has been the sole provider of sustenance to people like Sloth. Though he has special needs (the film suggests that he had dropped multiple times by his mother, which is also heart wrenching to contemplate), the distortions of his face somewhat remind one of somebody suffering from leprosy. Sloth is certainly shunned by his family like a leper. Like the Church had done for so many like him, the Goonies take in Sloth.

The Goonies is great family fun, though there are little kids saying swear words, so I would be careful in some scenes. I am also not fond of the times when Chunk is shamed for being overweight, an over-eater, or clumsy. He is generally bullied, which is terrible when you come down to it, but he is still a part of the group. Regardless, there is enough fun in it to appeal to audiences of all ages and it gets this reviewer’s recommendation. Seeing a teenaged Josh Brolin is pretty cool too.

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