The Goonies Conundrum

Posted: October 8, 2010 in Article
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If you didn’t grow up during the 80s, allow me to give you a quick catch up. In 1985, Richard Donner directed a kids adventure movie called The Goonies. It was one part Indiana Jones style adventure throw back, one part Famous Five, one part pirate story and about 6 parts pure 1980s. It was a goofy kids movie that was extremely popular back in the day, but is now a very divisive movie. Some movie geeks still hold it up as the pinnacle of Kid’s Movies, while others claim it’s a festering turd. Others, mainly hipsters who need to be drowned in a bathtub, claim it was always crap and that they never ever liked it. Most these people are the same assholes who try and convince you they always hated the Ewoks despite still having their Wicket stuffed toy from ’85.

In truth, it’s pretty hard to say the movie holds up as an adult. I have shown it to people who missed it as kids and they’ve always had the same response, “What is this crap?” This says to me that you have to view it as a kid to like it. As an experiment, I showed it to a few of kids who were between seven and ten, and they all said the same thing… “Please Mister, I won’t tell anyone, just let me go.” Once they realized they couldn’t gnaw through the restraints and that I wasn’t going to molest them or anything, they enjoyed the movie. Conclusion: You’ve got to be a kid to like Goonies. The Problem is that a lot of people who are no longer kids keep trying to watch the movie.

What always gets me is that people who really liked the movie, and come back as adults and find it didn’t revive the magic for them, get really really, really mad about it. They get very vocal about how it sucks, it always sucks, you suck for liking it and your mom sucks on the corner for nickels. You can often sense the same disappointment and resentment that comes off fanboys like a bad smell because The Star Wars didn’t leap off the screen and felate them in their seats. The magic didn’t happen twice and it’s clearly the movie’s fault!

My question however is, why would anyone expect it to? You’re an adult and it’s a kid’s movie. NOT I hearken to point out, if hearken is indeed the word I want, a family movie. Toy Story is a family movie, because both an adult and a child can watch it to be affected by its mawkish sentimentality. Goonies is a movie for kids though, without a single concession made to the adults who might be forced to watch. Not a single winking pop-culture reference or a double entendre meant to go over the tykes head to be found. Yes my dears, this is not Shrek… and thank the All Might Waffle for THAT mercy. This is purely a movie for kids, which again leads me to the question of why is a 30 year old trying to watch it? Why not move on to some adult fare for a change? It’s not for your adult self, it won’t work because they didn’t put anything for adults there. Yet, people try, and they get angry because they expect (almost to the point of demanding) that their feelings on a piece of entertainment never, ever change.

As much as I appreciate that some things from childhood can still be appreciated, ours seems to be a generation that took the Toys R Us song to heart. While I may still wish to have an action figure from time to time, to be honest I’m far more likely to buy a toy from Babeland than I am to get one from TRU. Ours is a society that is deep in a period of arrested development. We’re just remaking and repackaging things from our childhood right now. Worse yet, we’re embracing it, begging it to be as good as it was the first time. When it’s not, the disappointment comes off people like waves. This isn’t an isolated effect, I’m just pasting it to Goonies for an example.

For myself, I’ll say that Goonies doesn’t hold up for me, but I didn’t really expect it to. I don’t resent it, I have fond memories, but I have no real desire to revisit it because I feel I’m past that point. I’m sort of turned off by the treatment of Chunk these days really. Come to that, Data feels like a racist portrayal as well. Not in a way that makes me want to burn copies of the film surrounded by people in matching shirts and armbands or anything, just in a way that makes me sort of queasy. I don’t mind the movie that much though. It’s good enough for what it is, it’s just that what it is, isn’t for who I am. It was fine when I was in the demographic, but now that I’m out of it I’m no longer interested.

I’m skipping over the fact that the other side of this coin is the people who do still watch it and do still enjoy it on some level who get amazingly angry if anyone so much as says “Well, it was alright when I was a kid, but I’m not a kid anymore.” because I’ve only got so much energy, Besides, I started with a clear concept and seem to have muddied my mental waters by splashing around, so I’ll just leave it here for the moment.

More thoughts as they come to me.

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