Richard Donner’s Goonies has become a cult classic of cinema following its release in 1985. Finally achieving a cinematic re-release to celebrate its 34th Birthday. And it still doesn’t disappoint on the big screen, filled with childhood wonder, adventure and imagination. While playing a range genres in delivering a truly unique film that has never been equalled.
1985 was an impressive year in American film releases. With studios reeling from the introduction of VHS. While also giving the green light to a range of films that traditionally may have never made it to cinemas. Coming just a year after anarchy of Gremlins and fantasy of Ghostbusters. This was a year that gave birth to Back to the Future, The Breakfast Club, Fright Night and The Explorers. While enabling studios to take risks in pulling audiences away from the new option of video rental, and into cinemas.
Goonies added to this truly creative year of cinema with its genre defying mix of pirates, adventure, fantasy and coming of age. A mix that would likely struggle make it through a more restrictive studio system today. With the sheer creative force of Donner, Spielberg and Columbus proving enough to green light the financial risk for Warner Brothers.
The Goonies was born in the imagination of its Executive Producer Steven Spielberg. However, with Spielberg busy on a number of other projects including Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom and The Colour Purple. The development of The Goonies was handed to Chris Columbus (Gremlins). Allowing Spielberg’s love of wonder and fantasy to dovetail with Columbus‘ skills in comedy.
As The Goonies neared pre-production, a director was needed who could bring together the adventure of Spielberg with the humour of Columbus. Spielberg opting to pass the film to Richard Donner. A director who not only brought a diversity of experience with The Omen and Lola. But had also led the soaring epic fantasy of Superman the Movie.
With all three creative giants now in place, The Goonies benefited from the artistic style of all three in final production. From the humour of Columbus, to the adventure of Spielberg and the diversity of Donner. All three ensured the final picture linked to their previous work, whether that be the appearance of the Superman logo or the references to Gremlins and the adventure of Indiana Jones. In turn creating a film that feels part of a much larger universe of work.
But what made The Goonies truly shine was the choice of young actors sitting at its heart. Consequently creating a new generation of young talent, some of whom would go on to have long and successful careers in the industry. While also mixing this with the end childhood in one final adventure before teenage life took hold. Equally The Goonies places adults at an arms length, with the villains never equalling the intelligence and ingenuity of the young adventurers. A theme Columbus would return to in both Adventures in Babysitting and Home Alone.
Many films have attempted to recreate the magic of The Goonies in the years since its release. But this is a film that not only continues to inspire modern TV and film like Stranger Things and The Kid Who Would Be King. But also continues to gain new followers and fans. The evidence of its continued cultural and artistic impact spread across the landscape of media and storytelling.
Director: Richard Donner