The Goonies Reviews
Well, take the nostalgia glasses off. This film sucks.
For the longest time, I couldn't even articulate why I hated this film even as a kid.
There were a million odd plotholes and wacky plot elements that kept distracting me and bugging me, from the villainous family's prison escape to that stinking piano of bones to the moving pipes. I know it's an adventure, but those things still bugged me all the same. The characters were unlikable and obnoxious, at least to me. The fat boy was there to be an obnoxious fat boy, like in every family movie at that time. The hero boy played by Sean Astin was about as bland as you get. The Asian kid... makes gadgets. The fourth kid is a jerk to the Hispanic maid, which has elements of racial/ethnic insensitivity. Speaking of racial/ethnic insensitivity, the villains have to remind you via stereotype practically every scene they're in that, yes, they are, in fact, Italian.
But the biggest problem with the movie? The thing that made me cringe every time I watched it?
I. Hate. Sloth.
I don't care how many memes get made of him, how many T-shirts get sold with his face on it along with the quote "HEEEY YOUUU GUUUUYS!" I hate Sloth. Why? Because I am autistic, I was placed in a special ed class with other mentally challenged kids in the third grade, and for years had to tolerate a lot of crap from other kids and even a teacher calling me a "retard". Yet here is this walking, talking caricature of a mentally handicapped and physically deformed person being the butt of jokes in this family film. My sister tried telling me, "But he's sympathetic. They portray him as one of the good characters, and his treatment at the hands of his family is shown in a negative light." I would accept that argument, if not for the fact that they make him the butt of a lot of the movie's jokes just as often. I mean, the mother tries to calm him by singing "Rock-a-bye, Baby", but when she gets to the lyric about the cradle falling, Sloth freaks out and his mother says, "I only dropped you once! .... Or maybe twice." Yes, the old baby-dropped-on-its-head-becomes-a-fucking-retard joke I've heard a million friggin' times before, most recently on an episode of Game of Thrones. It's not funny, and the joke really just needs to die a quick death. On top of that, at the end of the movie, the fat kid outright tells Sloth that he's going to come live with him now. It's played up to be heartwarming. I find it condescending. "Awww, Mom, I got a new puppy!"
I'm sorry, everyone, but to me, Sloth is the blackface of mentally handicapped depictions on film.
Worth a look, but make sure you see it young enough to get the full effect.
(Full review coming soon - with better wording and requires another viewing)
The plot of "The Goonies," a quest for buried pirate treasure on the northern Pacific coast, owes a lot to Mark Twain's tale of Tom, Huck, and Becky in Injun Joe's cave. Twain's kids were wise beyond their years and rough around the edges, a bit like Sean Astin's "Mikey" and Corey Feldman's "Mouth." But they were also complex figures with rich inner lives, not comic stereotypes like Ke Huy Quan's "Data," who does gadgets, Jeff Cohen's "Chunk," who loves food, and Kerri Green's "Andy," a girl who shrieks and likes jewelry and kissing. Twain's dialogue was characterized by colorful turns of phrase and carefully-observed dialect, but Chris Columbus's screenplay is all shouted exposition, easy barbs, and convenient moments of wisdom.
The shouting is the hardest to tolerate as an adult, and unfortunately it is ceaseless. The movie's head baddie, having bundled the Goonies out of the room, exhales a line we're probably supposed to disagree with: "Kids suck." During the brief respite from the noise, it's hard not to share her sentiment. The Goonies are pretty obnoxious, but the movie doesn't know it.
Whatever their flaws in the character department, Spielberg, Columbus, and director Richard Donner are no slouches when it comes to cinematic spectacle. "The Goonies" is longer than it should be, but it moves so fast that it seldom lags. The dungeon and pirate ship sets look great, and for buffs there are plenty of winking homages to great adventure films like "Captain Blood," "Tarzan," and "Raiders of the Lost Ark." As if to compensate for the underwritten child roles, Dave Grusin's musical score does a great deal of emotional lifting and at times obscures the ubiquitous screaming.
Even if you find the Goonies less than lovable, the filmmakers' fondness for them is apparent and a little infectious. A final scene on the beach gives each child a neat resolution and some parting words (several of which are painfully unearned) before capping things off with a moment of hushed, magical awe. However uneven the underlying content, it is hard to resist the appeal of a totally un-cynical moment of Spielbergian wonder.