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‘Goonies never say die!” This week sees a re-release of that eminently likable 1985 movie, scripted by Chris Columbus from an unmistakably and even parodically Spielbergian idea by Steven Spielberg (who also produced) and directed by Richard Donner. It features a gang of kids having adventures on bikes; their heartbreakingly young faces were later to be more famous in heavier, craggier forms – particularly that of young jock Josh Brolin.
These are the youngsters from the fictional blue-collar “Goon Docks” district of Astoria, Oregon, who battle to save their homes from demolition; the discovery of a Spanish doubloon in the attic leads them to a map and thence to a gigantic underground cave containing pirate treasure, not to mention a complete, fully seaworthy pirate ship, almost like something from Jules Verne in fact. And it’s all being lusted after by local hoodlums, the Fratellis.
It’s a straight-ahead romp-slash-fantasy adventure that echoes Spielberg’s Indiana Jones films, and is weirdly similar to Stephen King’s scary novel It, which it predates by a year. For me it also shows how Spielberg and Columbus were drawing upon a rather British tradition of kids’ adventure stories put out by the Children’s Film Foundation and the Ealing classic Hue and Cry.
The Goonies has a rich and indomitable air of all-American innocence, and yet the fact that the kids’ age range is from little to teenage means that it includes some pretty grownup kissing: the cheerleader character even has the line, “Don’t I have a beautiful body?” which contemporary films might not want to use, at least not without much ironising and distancing. Did The Goonies influence solemn dramas like The Da Vinci Code? I know which I prefer.
• This article was amended on 19 April 2019 to correct a misspelling of the family name of Richard Donner as Bonner.
Source: The Guardian
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