10 Movies in 10 Days / The Goonies (1985)
When I set out to make my 10 Movies in 10 Days list, I knew that some sort of coming of age 80s film would have to make the list. Would it be Ferris Beuller's Day Off? Perhaps The Breakfast Club? Maybe even The Karate Kid? Honestly, any of these films would a worthy addition to my favorite 10 films, and they tend to be interchangeable to an extent. But something sets The Goonies apart from the rest of the pack. Yes, Ferris Beuller had an amazing day off, in fact it looked like a blast! The Breakfast Club nailed the teenage angst and insecurity better than most films ever made. The Karate Kid is the classic good buy vs bad guy while learning to temper those teenage emotions into something constructive. But The Goonies...The Goonies was the adventure I wanted to have as a kid. It was the story that connected with me in a way that I can't really put into words (though I'll try), and still does to this day.
Watching The Goonies now makes me a bit melancholy. Why, you ask? Because it was an adventure...far fetched, yes, but an adventure that my friends and I imagined we could find ourselves a part of. We would scour the woods around our neighborhood looking for hidden pirate gold, hoping to find a hidden cave system, and we would ride our bikes looking out for the Fratellis. These are adventures that my kids can't even imagine because the scope of adventure in today's times has gotten so small, children aren't allowed to explore to their heart's content anymore. They watch The Goonies and they love it, but they'll never know the pure childhood bliss of riding their bikes, miles away from home, and creating their own adventures. It honestly breaks my heart.
Sob stories aside, The Goonies is a movie that has the same allure now as it did in 1985. The ensemble cast is a who's who list of child stars...some would go on to the lofty heights of Hollywood stardom, while others would struggle with demons of their own making. Some would never see another starring role again. But each one of the cast of Goonies can hang their hat on the perfect storm they were a part of in 1985. Watching my kids react to the film and feel the same sort of magic that I felt as a kid when I watched it is a powerfully emotional thing. Being able to connect on that level is something that I never expected to be so important, but it is. The common ground that it creates ignores time completely. It also opens windows of creativity in a young mind that may not understand what free-range exploration with their friends really is.
The legacy of The Goonies is another thing that can't be ignored. Everyone is completely enamored with Stranger Things, and rightfully so. It's fair to say that without The Goonies there would be no Stranger Things. What makes both of these stories tick is how the actors seem to gel and connect in a natural way. Richard Donner had this to say about why the acting in The Goonies seemed to real reactions that kids would have:
I think each one of us has our own Goonies story and why the film is important to us. Few films have this sort of outreach and lasting effect. It's also why I love it so much. It transcends film and becomes part of our culture in a way that few films can, because after all, we all wanted to be a Goonie, right?