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The Goonies - Blu-ray Review

4 stars


The Goonies Blu-ray Review

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Opening with a silent look at a completely physical effect of a skull and crossbones, The Goonies announces more than its singular title in those few seconds; it gives its audience everything you need to know about this spirited tale of adventure and lost pirate treasure set in the Pacific Northwest. Produced by Steven Spielberg, this kid classic from 1985 might be a little rough around the edges in its sometimes cheesy celebration of kid-related anarchy but it is certainly all heart in its ability to entertain.

Written by Chris Columbus, The Goonies is about a group of kids, led by asthmatic Michael “Mikey” Walsh (Sean Astin), who go in search of One-Eyed Willie’s rumored pirate treasure in order to save their families homes from being “gobbled up” by the ever-expanding Astoria Country Club.  Once Mikey and his friends - Clark "Mouth" Devereaux (Corey Feldman), Richard "Data" Wang (Ke Huy Quan), and Lawrence "Chunk" Cohen (Jeff Cohen) – manage to escape Mikey’s overbearing brother, Brand (Josh Brolin) by stringing him up with his own exercise equipment – their sense of adventure – one last Goonie odyssey - is released.  Unfortunately, so are the crime-lovin’ Fratelli clan.

Freshly sprung from the Astoria jail, Jake Fratelli (Robert Davi) is reunited with Ma Fratelli (Anne Ramsey) and brothers Francis (Joe Pantoliano) and Sloth (John Matuszak).  Their hideout is a seaside bar – closed for the winter – and inside the dusty old restaurant the gang decides their next move while the deformed Sloth remains in chains.  That is until The Goonies arrive.  It seems the Fratelli hideout is also the starting point of discovering One-Eyed Willie’s loot. The gang – soon joined by Andy Carmichael (Kerri Green) and Stef Steinbrenner (Martha Plimpton) quickly discover that their lives are dangerously at risk as they maneuver some good old-fashioned booby traps and the relentless pursuit of The Fratellis, all under the guiding good eye of Ol’ Willie.

Richard Donner is truly a cinematic God for directing this picture.  He must have the patience of a saint in order to manage these children; the chaos of the film is palpable.  These are all energetic and excited kids and every frame reveals their anarchistic tendencies once they are all together.  Yet, he is able to reign the chaos in – or at least give it some guidance in order to produce the cultural influence it has sustained since 1985. There is a point to The Goonies and it is as exciting as its cops-and-robbers chase that opens the picture.  That opening, shot on location in Astoria, is also quite a bit of cinematic cleverness in that it introduces us to every single character of the movie – even Rosalita (Lupe Ontiveros), the maid for The Walsh household - as the chase whizzes the various members of the cast.

The Goonies, though, is not without its faults. This is B-movie fare and there certainly are no surprises for some audiences. The film is cloyingly in its development and Columbus’s script is a predictable tale of treasure hunting that significantly undermines the development of its characters. The film, even as a children’s tale, certainly isn’t as surprising as it could have been.

Many people have taken issue with the language of the kids as there is a lot of cursing, but, to me, it makes sense that the kids would use this type of adult language in that they are entering into the world of adults by embarking on this journey. Yet, to suggest this is a movie for kids to watch – which its story is at its very heart – is a bit of a misnomer in that The Goonies also wants to have a sort of Stand By Me vibe associated to it.

There might be a couple of hammy scenes concerning the villains of the picture, but The Goonies is certainly unforgettable in its treatment of a young teen’s belief in The Unknown. The spirit of the journey is Mikey’s redemption as he works to save his family’s home and One-Eyed Willie is his God.  He talks to him throughout the picture and, as a result, the film honors his guiding presence with a nicely romantic closing shot which see the significantly unlooted pirate ship heading toward the burning horizon of a brand new day. It’s a great closing and a nice touch of genuine sincerity from an adult to a boy, giving the picture a timeless hope that tugs at each frame.

The Goonies – now in its 25th year and making its first appearance on blu-ray - is a reminder of how great the imagination for a brotherhood of friends can be at the darkest of times. After all, Goonies never say die.


Component Grades
Movie
Blu-ray Disc
4 stars
3 Stars
Blu-ray Experience
3.5 stars

Blu-ray IconBlu-ray Details:

Available on Blu-ray - November 2, 2010
Screen Formats: 2.40:1
Subtitles
: English SDH, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Dutch, Korean, Mandarin (Traditional)
Audio:
English: Dolby TrueHD 5.1; English: Dolby Digital 5.1; English: Dolby Digital 2.0; French: Dolby Digital 2.0; Spanish: Dolby Digital Mono
Discs: 50GB Blu-ray Disc; Single disc (1 BD)

The Goonies Blu-ray Review

Retaining a healthy dose of grain, the 1080p transfer certainly doesn’t disappoint in its overall color-scheme.  Yet, there are a few minor quibbles. The film, at times, becomes too soft and some filtering is evident in its HD upgrade. The blues, the greens, and the browns are solid and definitely don’t present too many problems due to the film’s age. The English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 track kicks the bass levels so hard that this sonic update is almost reason enough to purchase the film.  The dialogue is clear and Dave Grusin’s iconic score is also well-represented.

Supplements:

Commentary:

  • A carryover from the original DVD release, the audio and visual commentary - supplied by director Richard Donner, actors Jonathan Ke Quan, Corey Feldman, Sean Astin, Kerri Green, Martha Plimpton, Jeff Cohen, and Josh Brolin - is certainly entertaining even though Feldman talks WAY too much during it.  It also interesting to turn on the Hidden Treasure part of the commentary to see the reunited cast talking about the film from the recording session.

Special Features:

The Ultimate Collector's Edition release includes an illustrated souvenir magazine from 1985, a reprint of an original article from 2009 that was guest-edited by Steven Spielberg, ten collectible storyboard prints and an exclusive board game.  They are all housed in a shimmering collectors box that captures the "treasured" gloss of the movie.

The supplemental features on the disc include:

  • Making of featurette from 1985;
  • Three deleted scenes (yes, the octopus scene is included);
  • Cindi Lauper's classic Spielberg-directed video for her song "The Goonies R Good Enough"; and
  • The film's original theatrical trailer.

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