Published on June 29th, 2020 | by Kim Kurtenbach0
Because You’ve Seen The Goonies So Many Times
Are you sick of The Goonies? Kim has a solid recommendation for a similar kid-oriented fantasy adventure flick that will surely hit that nostalgia sweet spot.
The Goonies is so good that, to this very day, it makes me want to turn the stereo up when Cindy Lauper comes on. Lauper sang the Top 10 single and lead track (The Goonies ‘R’ Good Enough) for the Goonies soundtrack she was tasked with overseeing by Steven Spielberg. There was a video with her and Captain Lou Alabano, who had rubber bands in his face (hey – it was the 80’s, and I don’t have time to explain everything). The song is just over three and a half minutes, but the video is almost seven and a half. Cindy is the star, with her squeaky voice and wacky persona, but the Goonies themselves are also there, and it’s full of wrestlers like Rowdy Roddy Piper, The Iron Sheik, and Freddie Blassie. The first video came out prior to the release of The Goonies on June 7, 1985, and a second video was released by MTV after the movie hit theatres. It was basically the same thing, but it added Andre the Giant and the Bangles to have more pirates and more wrestlers.
See, in the 80s, you could just take a bunch of stuff people liked at the time–such as treasure maps, pirates, a funny gang of kids, famous WWF wrestlers and a quirky, punk/new wave girl with hair like fire–mush them all together, and it was like a symphony of incomprehensible magic. We’ve seen The Goonies so many times because it’s like a magic trick you still can’t figure out. It just delights you.
So, you re-watch The Goonies again and still want more. What now? I’m not going to breakdown the entire cast and nuances of why it’s been impossible to replicate for 35 years, but I will give you a quick reminder: the director (Richard Donner) had, previous to Goonies, given us The Omen (1976) and Superman (1978). It was written by a young Chris Columbus who had written Gremlins (1984) the year previous, and would go on to direct Adventures in Babysitting (1987), Home Alone (1990), Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (2001) and Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (2002).
The whole thing, from the original story to the production, was really put together by Steven Spielberg. The movie is most often associated with Spielberg because by 1985, he was so prolific that it felt like his fingerprints were somehow all over every single movie that mattered. Basically, the crew responsible for The Goonies was a rare animal of unbridled, runaway talent at every possible turn.
Somewhere round about 1982, Spielberg hired two teenagers to clean up some long-lost home movies that had recently been returned. Those teenagers were JJ Abrams and Matt Reeves, and the movies they were charged with restoring and transferring were Spielberg’s early film making attempts shot on…Super 8. See where I’m going with this? JJ Abrams made Super 8 (2011) as an homage to his hero, nearly 30 years after first meeting him (by fluke, I might add). Super 8 made buckets of money, but these days I feel like it hasn’t quite made its way into the zeitgeist of great family adventure movies, despite being as much a reference to all our touch-points of the 80s as Stranger Things (2016).
Both Goonies and Super 8 are fantasy adventures of growing up and learning adult lessons. The groups of kids are quite similar. Upon watching Super 8 for the first time, the thing I immediately latched onto were the group dynamics of the (barely) teenage friends. Joe Lamb is Mikey, the optimistic and self-appointed-by-necessity leader of his adventuresome gang. Carey is a pyrotechnic freak that reminds me of the gadget obsessed Data (man, that kid really liked booby traps). Chunk and Martin are hysterical and reluctant participants while Mouth and Charles share a weary cynicism and seem like characters who have one foot in childhood and one foot in adulthood. It helps bridge the gap between the core kids and the older teenagers. The kids in both movies perform wonderful dialogue that is reminiscent of Stand By Me (1986), where the timing is so tight, it becomes funny to listen to the kids all yelling lines overtop one another. Obviously, Goonies came out first and set the benchmark, but it’s another attribute that makes Super 8 a comparable alternative. Both groups of kids sound like they ad-libbed some lines (I don’t know that actually happened) and, regardless, they all sounds like real kids and both sound like fun groups to pal around with.
By the time Super 8 was imagined, Goonies had become a classic throwback, so Abrams set his movie in the summer of 1979 to give it an immediate feel of nostalgia the moment you watch it for the first time. The Fratelli gang is replaced by the military as the principal adult figures of malice, and the almost non-existent parenting in Goonies is echoed in some measure by all the parents in Super 8, with the exception of Joe’s dad (Kyle Chandler) and the shit-show that is Alice’s dad (Ron Eldard). And just as The Goonies learn that Sloth isn’t the monster he appears, the Super 8 gang will experience a similar revelation of their own (trying to be coy here, just in case you don’t remember the details).
The Goonies has a lot going for it, a certain, as the French would say–“I don’t know what” and some of it’s perplexing. Poor Chunk gets locked in a freezer with a corpse, escapes from a remote shack in the dark, only to be kidnapped by murderous mobsters and threatened with the torture of having his had shoved into a blender. It’s hilarious. Or, at the very least, dismissible as not realistic enough to actually be horrifying. Super 8 has some of this magic, but it’s a 2011 movie that is merely set in 1979, so it’s built for an entirely different generation of movie goers. And to my mind, it’s successful as could be imagined for something clearly emulating, or paying respect to, a movie so classic and unique as The Goonies.
Next rainy day you feel like an adventure with your old pals, look no further than Amazon Prime to introduce (or reacquaint) you with another great group of kids just trying to save their town. To that end, Super 8 is absolutely “mint”.