For many moviegoers, The Goonies epitomizes the '80s family action-adventure. Steven Spielberg assumes the reins as producer in this big-budget effort, enlisting seasoned action-director Richard Donner (Superman) to direct and blossoming screenwriter Chris Columbus (Gremlins) to pen the script. This able trio certainly understands what young audiences want to see, thus fill their narrative with special effects, pirate's treasure, epic sets, and curmudgeonly crooks. The result is a mélange of memorable moments equally thrilling for both adults and children. From the opening jailbreak scene to the wild water slide ride through one-eyed Willie's booby-trapped caverns, this is a relentless, high-octane "Spielbergian" journey starring young protagonists. Although the characters are built on obvious clichés (i.e. the whining fat kid, the homecoming queen, the Asian kid with gadgets), the charming performances and quirky dialogue manage to bring these seemingly stale archetypes to life. This is a film that never talks down to its young audience, creating intelligent teen characters that feel real emotions and face internal and external conflict from all sides. While many consider this film nothing more than a busy and overproduced grab bag of Hollywood hack, others can look back on The Goonies nostalgically. Sloth's drooling shrieks of "BABY RUTH" and "HEY YOU GUYS" may seem a tad trite and corny by today's standards, but these moments are as famous as any other '80s celluloid classics. A string of unimpressive children's adventures such as Russkies would soon follow the release of The Goonies, but the canned plot lines and cardboard characters lacked the heart of Mikey, Mouth, Data, and their colorful cohorts.
by Adam Goldberg review