In Thomas Wolfe's "You Can't Go Home Again", the main character George Webber discovers you can't go "back home to your childhood," a sentiment I have realized many times when it comes to revisiting things, such as movies, from my childhood. While I rightly bonded with a few classics over those years, there are others that left me wondering what my younger self and my peers saw that my present self no longer does. This is why I approached 'The Goonies' with a sense of uneasiness, I didn’t know what lay ahead of me as I had little memory beyond the fact that I saw it once in theaters back in 1985, I remembered who a couple of its cast members were, and I knew it contained the debut of the Truffle Shuffle.
Based on a story by Steven Spielberg, who seemed to have a hand in roughly one gazillion movies during the 1980s, 'The Goonies' is a fun boys adventure that likely provided a creative release as he struggled to get an adaptation of 'Peter Pan' off the ground (before that dream crashed to earth, hard, in the form of 1991's 'Hook'). This new set of Lost Boys is slightly dejected as the movie opens because their neighborhood is going to be foreclosed on in order to expand a country club. Mikey (Sean Astin) finds a treasure map allegedly belonging to the pirate One-Eyed Willie and talks the gang into one last Goonie adventure in an effort to help their parents.
Willie set up a number of traps along the way that the Goonies have to figure their way around, but their first obstacle, once they get by Mikey's old brother Brand (Josh Brolin), is getting past The Fratellis, a family of criminals led by Ma (Anne Ramsey who is delightfully menacing, reminiscent of her Academy Award-nominated performance in 'Throw Momma from the Train' a couple of years later). After breaking Ma's son Jake (Robert Davi) out of jail, the family hides out in an abandoned restaurant that the Goonies need to get through to continue their quest. Once the Fratellis get wind that there might be treasure, they pursue the Goonies through the caverns.
The movie is a bit flawed, but it's not something the intended audience will mind as director Richard Donner moves through Chris Columbus' script at a quick pace to keep viewers from thinking too much, draws out good performances from the cast, and creates thrilling action sequences. The scene where the Goonies are in essence traveling down a water slide is sure to delight any kid, or kid-at-heart, and I can't imagine any boy who wouldn't enjoy a skirmish on top of a pirate ship. The set designers did a fantastic job there and with the different Rube Goldberg contraptions that wouldn't be built nowadays, which is a shame.
The characters are a bit stereotypical, like the bad, rich people being mean to the good, poor people, and some of the Goonies fall victim to caricature. Mouth (Corey Feldman) is a wiseguy in the Eddie Haskell mode, Data (Ke Huy Quan) is the brain of the group, and Chunk (Jeff Cohen) is the comic relief chubby kid; however, the latter two standout as the most memorable characters of the movie. Data is into James Bond. He carries a number of odd gadgets and inventions and even plays a cassette of his theme song. Chunk is the Goonies' Cowardly Lion. He's a sweet kid who gets flustered at the first sign of trouble, yet always comes through to help out the gang. His sweetness is also revealed in the scenes he shares with Sloth (John Matuszak), a monstrous-looking fellow (with a poor-looking make up job) who the Fratelli family keeps chained up and hidden away. He also has the funniest scenes, whether performing the iconic Truffle Shuffle or his non-stop babbling when the Fratellis try to get information out of him.
As long as you don't expect more than a bit of fun and silliness, with a bit of Spielberg's trademark sappiness, 'The Goonies' is a good enough kids' movie, although I was surprised by the inordinate amount of swearing in it. Also, don't be thrown when Data talks about their battle with an octopus. He's not taking over Mouth's role as the wiseguy, but is referencing a deleted scene.
The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats
'The Goonies – 25th Anniversary Collector's Edition' comes in a box that won't remain closed unless it's squeezed between other Blu-rays on your shelf. A small bit of Velcro would have done wonders for those OCDers who will be driven mad. Inside there is the 50G region-free Blu-ray disc housed in an eco case; a reprint of 'The Goonies' article from the 20th Anniversary of Empire, which was guest-edited by Spielberg; a reprint of 'The Goonies' souvenir magazine that fans should very much enjoy; 10 postcard-sized cards that feature storyboards, five of which are deleted scenes; and 'The Goonies' board game that involves little strategy beyond drawing cards.
The video is presented with a 1080p/VC-1 encoded transfer with an aspect ratio of 2.40:1. The source looks clean except 17 minutes in when a long thick piece of hair or something gets stuck in the gate and sits in the top right part of the screen as Mikey talks to the gang in the attic about going after Willie's treasure. Also, the special effect matte shots, like when Mikey uses the doubloon to check if they are headed the right direction, look bad in high definition.
Colors are bright, particularly the reds of Brand's headband and Chunk's jacket. The greens from the Oregon foliage also appear as strong hues. Fleshtones appear consistent, even for Sloth. Blacks are frequently accurate though at times edge toward gray. Some scenes look a little dark, causing the shadows to occasionally swallow details, which for the most part offer good texture, like the cavern walls.
The audio comes in three different choices for English (TrueHD 5.1, Dolby Digital 5.1, and Dolby Digital 2.0), French Dolby Digital 2.0, and Spanish Dolby Digital Mono. The TrueHD option is a mixed bag. During the opening credit sequence as the Fratellis run from the cops, cars can be heard moving across the speakers. Sounds are well positioned with the surrounds helping deliver ambiance, such as water running in the restaurant's basement. The subwoofer comes through with a solid bottom end.
The audio tracks are not well balanced together though. The dialogue is the poorest performer because it gets soft and muffled at times, due in part to the loudness of the effects, which fill the surrounds. The ADR also doesn’t help, sounding flat and obvious. Dave Grusin's score holds its own.
All the video extras appeared on the 2001 DVD release.
Although it has no new video material, 'The Goonies – 25th Anniversary Collector's Edition' is something that should appeal to the serious fan and collector. For more casual fans, waiting for the eventual release of the Blu-ray on its own is the better bet. For everyone else, it's a fun movie though the high-definition results likely will limit that release to just a rental. I didn't get to try this out on my 11-year-old nephew, but the movie might be too quaint for modern-day kids who get to satisfy their pirate-adventure longings with the large scale efforts Disney put out with their PotC trilogy.