The Goonies (1985)

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The pirates map, The villainous crooks, The underground caverns, The booby traps, the skeletons, The monster, the lost treasure, and the magic that is… THE GOONIES!

Goonies never say die! – or so says the movie. Coming out in 1985, the Richard Donner directed The Goonies has been a perennial family favorite ever since. And it seems like much much less than 25 years since I saw this movie two or three times in a dusty old General Cinema theater. Well, not sure about the General Cinema, but that’s a likely culprit. And it was extremely rare for me as a youngster to see the same film multiple times during its original release. Even Star Wars only got two viewings. And in a pre VHS, Netflix era this speaks volumes.

In some ways The Goonies is a typical film of the 1980s: it surely has that feel. For starters it has Corey Feldman as a major player, surely something which dates the period of the film. That being said, I always liked Feldman. What about Dream a Little Dream from 1989? Ok, well the 1980s were not all great films, even relatively speaking. But The Goonies tells a great story within the framework of 80s kitsch.

The story is straightforward and given that Steven Spielberg is the producer, pretty action packed.  An updated “Our Gang” motley band of kids bands together when their neighborhood faces destruction and redevelopment as a golf course.  Their goal is of course the saving of their neighborhood, and to do so they embark on a near mythical quest to find “One Eyed” Willy’s famed lost treasure.

And along the way we get our share of subterranean chases, water slides, some ingenious gadgets from one of our Goonie friends, and of course the obligatory pirate ship and climatic finale.  A great story with a few obvious nods to some classic predecessors – namely the shameless (well it is credited) use of Max Steiner’s score to 1948’s The Adventures of Don Juan during the final reel or two.  Nevermind, its so well done you don’t care and the music is fantastic.

Warners has as usual outdone themselves yet again on this 25th anniversary release on bluray, and available for download from itunes at The Goonies on iTunes. The iTunes includes all the extra materials on the blu-ray disc as well. But The Goonies came out on standard DVD a few years ago, so if you have that release, do you need this one?

Well, I would say it’s a push.  The packaging and swag in the new release is outstanding, including a board game, a magazine reunion reprint, some glossy storyboard cards, and a reprinted 1985 souvenir magazine.  All great stuff, but to be honest, things I can do without.  I much rather care about the film and any on disc supplemental materials.

Here we begin to falter.  For such extravagant packaging, the lack of any really new supplemental materials is a bit disturbing and the paltry vintage making of short doesn’t cut it.  The film itself is a good upgrade over the existing release, but falls far short of current blu-ray releases.  How much this is indicative of the original elements condition I am not sure.  I saw a fair amount of grain, alarmingly so in some of the darker scenes.  Still a modest improvement in video quality.

Sound quality really shows a remarkable improvement over the previous release, with greater clarity and channel separation as well.  Perhaps the biggest plus of the new release.

So, we have returned back to the original question.  This is an insanely good and purely fun movie, but if you have the original standard DVD release and can do without the good swag, you may be better served waiting for the presumably ultimately forthcoming straightforward single disc blu-ray release.  If you don’t already have this, then it is a worthy addition, whether from iTunes electronically or the standard physical release.  In this case, I’d go with the physical release to get the board game, etc.  which you obviously cannot get online.

End of the day, this is a fun film which should somehow be a part of your collection.  Those with kids will especially like it.  

Review copy provided by Warner Bros. Thanks!

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