Plot: What’s it about?
The Goonies was and still is, one of those movies that has been around and that everyone really seems to like. Though not the hit that movies like Indiana Jones or E.T. were, it’s amazing how many people have seen this movie and how many people have been anticipating a release on DVD. Well, the time has finally arrived and thanks to Director Richard Donner, the disc features a new anamorphic transfer and a new commentary track. But you have to wonder what makes The Goonies so likeable? To me, it seems to have the right blend of comedy, humor and action. The cast, a few of which went onto bigger acting careers (Josh Brolin, Sean Astin and Corey Feldman come to mind), is very diverse and though they seem very stereotypical (i.e. a fat kid, a japanese kid, ladies man etc.) they are what make the movie work. And while The Goonies doesn’t try to make a statement and save the world, it’s two hours of fun that you’ll have whether you’ve seen this movie a dozen times or you’re watching it for the first time. In somewhat of a throwback to earlier times, this movie is about a treasure. Nothing else. But as Richard Donner can do so well, we see that the cast tends to bond and has a lot of fun at the same time. And this, in turn, makes it very enjoyable to watch. At least for me it does…
Featuring probably one of my favorite opening scenes, The Goonies starts with the Fratelli brothers (Robert Davi’s ‘Jake’) escaping from prison. They then speed through the city of Astoria all to Dave Grusin’s terrific score. It’s something that words can’t really describe, but the movie hooks you early and you know you’re in for a good ride. It’s during this barrage of imagery that we meet a majority of the cast as well. We see Chunk (Jeff Cohen) at the video arcade, again very stereotypically with a shake in hand, as well as Mouth (Corey Feldman) and Andy (Kerri Green) at her cheerleading practice. But this all takes a backseat as to what the movie is really all about. You see, the more esteemed residents of the city want to build a new country club and are flushing out all of the lower class residents in the area. The Walsh’s, consisting of Mikey (Sean Astin) and Brandon (Josh Brolin) are among one of the families that are getting evicted. This is until they find a treasure map in the attic and “The Goonies” decide to chase a dream that has been chased before. Can they find buried treasure that’s been thought to be a myth? Can The Goonies save their house in the wee nick of time?
This wouldn’t be easy by themselves, but they manage to stumble into the Fratelli’s, led by their mother (Anne Ramsey, best known for her part here and as Danny DeVito’s mother in Throw Momma From the Train). The Fratelli’s, being crooks, decide that they want a part of the action and make the chase for One Eyed Willy’s gold a bit more difficult than originally expected. In between all of this mess we are led on a couple of sub plots, but getting there is half the fun and it’s not before long that we meet a mutated beast of a brother kept chained in a cellar and more tricks and traps than you can shake a stick at. The Goonies (and this will sound corny) is truly a great time and fun to watch. I personally think it’s one of Donner’s best efforts, right up there with Maverick. You can tell they had fun doing the movie and it’s a sheer pleasure to watch. Fans of the movie, run don’t walk, to get this DVD!
Video: How does it look?
As I mentioned earlier, Richard Donner stepped in and managed to have them make a widescreen transfer of the film (anamorphic no less) as this title was slated to be shown in pan and scan. Warner has this crazy idea that since it’s part of their “Family Entertainment” line that no one will want to watch the way it was originally shot (ironically, one of the aims of DVD was to give viewers a choice in how they wanted to watch a movie, but nevertheless…). Well, the 2.35:1 anamorphic image looks great. It’s the best I’ve seen the movie look and you’re talking to a guy who even owned the LaserDisc. There appears to be a bit of softness to some scenes, but on the whole the picture looks very clear and vivid for a movie that’s 15 years old. Black levels are on target, and the picture has a lot of shadows in the second part of the film when they’re underground pursuing the treasure. The fleshtones appear to be muted just a bit, but the film calls for a slightly muted palette. On the whole, this looks great and I don’t think that anyone will find anything to complain about.
Audio: How does it sound?
While the old VHS and LaserDiscs were Dolby Surround, The Goonies has been given a new Dolby Digital 5.1 mix on DVD. Let me tell you…I was very impressed. I mentioned that Dave Grusin’s score in the opening scene sounded great, well–the whole movie does as well. While this isn’t up to par with some of the movies that come out today, I have to say that I was thoroughly impressed with the way that this sounded. Dialogue is clean for the most part, but there were a few instances where it sounded a bit muddy. Surround effects, which there are more than a few, sounded great, though I think they might have been mono. In any case, no matter how you look at it (make that listen to it), The Goonies sounds great, preserving the original six track mix from the mid 80’s.
Supplements: What are the extras?
They’re all here…all of them. The cast of The Goonies (the kids anyway) are all present and actively participating in the commentary (which has some video moments as well). Richard Donner is present as well, but tends to be overshadowed by the cast as Josh Brolin and Corey Feldman (who introduces himself as Corey Haim in the opening) who shout out most everything at any given time. We learn that Jeff Cohen (aka Chunk) used his popularity from this movie to become the student body president of his college among other things. This is probably one of my favorite tracks as it’s so active and so many people contribute to so many different things going on. I dare say that you might have to listen to it twice! Aside form the commentary, there is a music video of “The Goonies r’ Good Enough” preformed by the one and only Cyndi Lauper. So the 80’s are back…in a certain sort of way. A documentary is also included “The making of The Goonies” though I would call it more of a featurette. It’s the typical deal as with most other documentaries (featurettes), interviews with the cast and director telling about how the movie was made. It’s a good feature to have and only adds value to the disc. Finally, some outtakes are included that manage to have a few deleted scenes in there. I don’t want to spoil it for anyone who hasn’t seen the movie, so I’ll just say that these are worth the wait, but there is a reason that they didn’t make the final cut. That’s about it, aside from a theatrical trailer and a Dolby Surround version of the soundtrack (so if you’re nostalgic, you can listen to the Pro-Logic mix again). One of my all-time favorite movies has gotten the royal treatment on DVD and I’m a happy camper. You will be too.