In the city of Astoria, Oregon, there’s a poorer side of town known as the Goon Docks. But if Mr. Perkins has his way, soon, the Goon Docks will be torn down to make way for a country club and golf course. He’s been calling in the mortgages of all the homes in the area.
The only foreclosure notice not yet signed is for the house owned by the Walsh family. But despite Mr. Walsh’s best efforts, he has given up hope on finding enough money to pay Mr. Perkins, and he plans to sign those documents the next day.
It’s terrible news for the “Goonies,” a group of children who love where they live and don’t want to wake up under the sky of some other town. But what can they do about it?
Well, they can find One-Eyed Willy’s hidden treasure, that’s what.
According to legend, he was an infamous pirate whose ship—and treasure—was lost behind a cove’s cave-in following a battle with the British. The legend says that while he was trapped there, Willy and his crew created vast tunnel systems filled with booby traps for anyone who tried to use them to get to Willy’s treasure. And apparently, one pirate must have eventually escaped, since the Goonies stumble upon an ancient map that supposedly leads straight to the mythical riches.
“If I found One-Eyed Willy’s rich stuff, I’d pay all my dad’s bills,” says Goonie Mikey Walsh, to the resounding agreement of fellow Goonies nicknamed Chunk, Mouth and Data.
And so they set off, hoping to find a long-lost treasure that most believe no longer exists. And on their journey, they’ll be joined by both friend and foe.
Foe? Oh, yes. I forgot to mention the Fratellis, a criminal family that is set on getting rich and isn’t above hurting children to do so. And they’re hot on the Goonies’ heels.
Despite being in a tough situation, the Goonies all stick together. Most of them have a moment to shine. And they refuse to leave anyone behind, putting themselves in danger to help others.
Ultimately, the Goonies are searching for the treasure because they want to help their families keep their homes. Many of the children show concern for their parents, expressing sadness that their fathers have to work long hours just to avoid foreclosure.
Chunk (and later, the rest of the Goonies) stick up for a deformed man named Sloth despite first being afraid of him due to his deformities. Not only do they protect him from his own wicked family, but they also stick up for him when police arrive and are scared by him. Likewise, Sloth protects the Goonies from his own family after realizing how bad his family has been.
Data likes creating a lot of secret agent-esque inventions. At the end of the film, we find out that he and his father share this love of creation. However, Data’s father tells him that his best invention was Data, and not any material item.
One girl, Andy, stops hanging out with a boy after seeing how cruel he is to Mikey’s older brother, Brand. And speaking of Brand, though he and Mikey can get a little rough with each other at times, he often comforts and protects Mikey, showing genuine love for him.
Mikey speaks into the air to One-Eyed Willy and treats the pirate in a very reverent way. Chunk makes a couple references to his Jewish upbringing. Mikey’s mother makes an unintentional reference to the Hindu god Krishna.
The Goonies accidentally drop a small version of the Statue of David. When they pick it up, its penis is broken off, and Mikey exclaims that it had been his mom’s favorite part of the sculpture. The gag goes on for some time, including a moment when the boys reattach the piece upside down, causing Brand to make a comment about how that would make men urinate in their faces. We hear some other references to male genitalia, as well as a joke about erections.
One boy angles his rearview mirror in an attempt to look up Andy’s skirt, and we later hear that she caught him doing the same thing to try to look down her shirt. Later, the same boy brags to his friends about how he believes he’s close to going all the way with Andy.
Mouth makes many sexual comments. He tells Chunk that he has naked photos of Chunk’s mother in order to make his friend mad. And he teases Brand and Andy about almost kissing, telling Brand to use tongue. Brand and Andy do share a couple passionate kisses. Andy also kisses Mikey accidentally when she planned to kiss Brand.
Men shower, though nothing is seen.
One Fratelli brother, Jake, appears to have hanged himself while in jail, but it’s a trick in order to lure a prison guard into his cell. Once he does, Jake knocks the man out. The other family members surround the building’s entrance with gasoline and light it on fire. Then the family trades gunshots with pursuing police cars in a car chase.
The Goonies stumble across the bodies of federal agents who were investigating the Fratellis’ counterfeit money operation. The boys had heard gunshots as they approached the Fratellis’ lair. One dead agent is taken out in a garbage bag. The other’s body is found in a freezer with a bullet hole in his head.
Mama Fratelli threatens to cut off Mouth’s tongue as well as shove Chunk’s hand in a blender. One Goonie, Stef, punches Mama Fratelli. And Mama Fratelli forces Andy to jump into deep water with her hands tied; she nearly drowns before someone saves her. It’s implied that the reason for Sloth’s deformities is due to Mama Fratelli dropping him multiple times when he was a baby. The Fratelli brothers slip and fall, hitting their crotches on a log. Also, Data uses a gadget to attack a Fratelli brother: a device that bites onto the man’s crotch.
The adventure to find One-Eyed Willy’s treasure is full of deadly booby traps that put many of the kids in peril. They find a number of skeletons scattered throughout the caves they’re exploring—including the bones of someone crushed by a falling boulder.
A boy driving a car grabs ahold of Brand (who’s riding a tricycle) and sends him flying off a hill. The same boy is later sprayed up the rear when the toilet he is on sends a geyser of water upwards.
Mouth jokes that Mike’s father keeps sexual torture devices in the attic. Brand’s mother threatens Brand with ritual suicide (hara-kiri) if he fails to return with Mikey.
The s-word is heard nearly 15 times. We also hear the occasional use of “a–,” “d–n,” “h—,” “b–tard” and “piss.” God’s name is used in vain over 40 times. Jesus’ name is misused once.
Some characters smoke. Chunk is concerned that two men are drug dealers. As a prank, Mouth tells a woman that Mikey’s family stores an assortment of drugs in a dresser.
Characters urinate. Members of the Fratelli family treat their deformed sibling extremely poorly, keeping him locked up in a room and abusing him.
Few films ever rise to the level of cult classic, but The Goonies certainly fits the bill. Perhaps helping its journey to stardom was having director Richard Donner (Superman, Lethal Weapon) and writers Chris Columbus (Harry Potter, Home Alone) and Steven Spielberg (Indiana Jones, Jurassic Park) in its corner. Perhaps its lovable cast full of still-famous actors such as Sean Astin, Josh Brolin, Ke Huy Quan and others makes the film all the more adored.
Or perhaps it was just the film’s way of fulfilling that childhood desire to go on your own adventure, find buried treasure and save the day.
Whatever the reason, this classic’s appeal has persisted beyond its original generation. And while The Goonies is a fun adventure, looking at it through a modern lens, it does come with some content concerns that might raise an eyebrow at its PG rating.
As some may (or may not) recall, the film comes loaded with quite a few sexual quips. There’s also some violence—particularly when the kids discover the dead body of a federal agent stashed away in a freezer, or when Mama Fratelli threatens to shove Chunk’s hand into a blender. And language can be a bit rough with the many s-words and misuses of God’s name.
Cult classics may hold a special place in our hearts, whether it be due to nostalgia or simply because we fell in love with the movie. But those feelings might also inadvertently make us forget some of those rougher content concerns that come along with a beloved classic—and The Goonies is no different.
Kennedy Unthank studied journalism at the University of Missouri. He knew he wanted to write for a living when he won a contest for “best fantasy story” while in the 4th grade. What he didn’t know at the time, however, was that he was the only person to submit a story. Regardless, the seed was planted. Kennedy collects and plays board games in his free time, and he loves to talk about biblical apologetics. He doesn’t think the ending of Lost was “that bad.”