The Entertainment Chuckwagon: Going “Goonies”
Buckle your seat belts moviegoers, because this edition we’re going to party like it’s 1985 as we celebrate the 30th anniversary of the cult classic of a film with pirate treasure, bumbling, bickering bank robbers and a very scary Octopus that didn’t make the film’s final cut. It’s Goonies time.
Here’s a brief recap of the plot: Goonies is set in the Goon Dock area of Astoria, Oregon. Residents there are facing having their homes foreclosed on so a group of evil country club snobs can demolish them all to build a lavish golf course.
A group of kids, nicknamed “The Goonies,” stumble upon various antiques including an old treasure map purporting to lead to the long lost treasure of the notorious pirate “One Eyed Willie.” The Goonies include wide-eyed, adventure seeking Mikey (Sean Astin); Mouth (Corey Feldman), who’s the smartass of the group; Data (Ke Huy Quan) who invents all kinds of goofy gadgets; and lovable klutz Chunk (Jeff Cohen).
Mikey convinces the other Goonies that if they seekand find the lost treasure, they’ll have enough money to save their homes. Off they go! Later, they’re joined by Mikeys older brother Brand (Josh Brolin), his would be girlfriend Andy (Keri Green), and her friend Steph (Martha Plimpton) andall face danger from the criminal team ofof Ma Fratelli (Anne Ramsey) andher two bickering sons Francis (Joe Pantoilano) and Jake (Robert Davi) who are after the treasure themselves.
It all started with the director of Superman, the screenwriter of Gremlins and a man named Steven Spielberg.
In the 2010 documentary, The Making of a Cult Classic: The Unauthorized Story of The Goonies, director Richard Donner. Donner, who in 1978 made movie audiences believe a man could fly with the success of Superman, stated he got a phone call from Spielberg about a movie project that Spielberg was producing, written by screenwriter Chris Columbus (Gremlins & Harry Potter, among others). Donner was excited to work on a project with Spielberg, and the film started shooting in October 1984.
Donner cast Sean Astin as Mikey. Astin, the son of Patty Duke and John Astin (best known as Gomez from the original Addams Family television series). At the age of 13, this was 13 year old Astin’s film debut. In addition to various other film roles, he later played Sam in The Lord of The Rings trilogy.
For the role of Mouth, the part went to Corey Feldman, already a successful child actor since the age of three. Feldman made his debut in a McDonald’s commercial and also had guest starring roles on The Love Boat, Mork and Mindy and Cheers. In 1984, he appeared in Gremlins, and in 1986 had a large role in Stand by Me.
By the time he was cast as Data, Ke Huy Quan had already achieved film success as “Short Round” in the summer 1984 hit Indiana Jones and The Temple of Doom. A few years after Goonies, he joined the cast of the hit television series Head of The Class in role of Jasper Quong.
Last but not least, there was Chunk, played by Jeff Cohen. Cohen originally auditioned for the part of Mouth. He was told “You sound like a Mouth but you look like a Chunk.” Unfazed, he said he learned new lines, went in for a second audition and was cast in the role of Chunk.
Goonies was also the feature film debut of actor Josh Brolin, who played Mikey’s older brother Bran. Brolin went on to play a variety of film roles including No Country for Old Men and Grindhouse. He portrayed George W. Bush in the 2008 film W. and provided the voice of Thanos in last year’s summer hit Guardians of the Galaxy.
We can’t forget one of the film’s most beloved characters, Sloth (John Matusak) the third Fratelli Brother, an ugly but gentle giant who helps the Goonies fend off his mother and brothers.
Matuzak spent five hours each day in make up to portray Sloth. There’s meaning behind two of the shirts he wears in the film. When we first meet him, he’s wearing an Oakland Raiders tee shirt. A former defensive lineman for the Raiders, Matuzak was with the team when they won two Super Bowls. Later in the movie, when Sloth comes to the aid of the Goonies, he’s wearing a Superman shirt and the theme from the 1978 movie is playing. Director Donner also directed that film. Sadly, Matuzak passed away in 1989 due to heart failure.
During filming, Donner wouldn’t allow any of the cast to see One Eyed Willie’s pirate ship until they shot the scene. In the DVD commentary, Donner stated his reason for this was he wanted their reactions to be genuine.
In the movie, when the Goonies are rescued, Data tells the news reporters at the scene that The Octopus was “really scary.” Yet, there’s no Octopus scene in the film. Or, is there?
In a deleted scene, after the kids discover the pirate ship, where they’re attacked by an octopus, which Data foils by sticking a Walkman in its mouth.
Director Donner stated, “It wasn’t a well done piece of mechanics, and I felt it didn’t look real enough for the film.” The scene was left on the cutting room floor.
Released in June 1985, Goonies opened in second place at the box office behind Rambo: First Blood Part II. At the end of the year, it was ranked in 9th place in the list of top ten successful movies of 1985. A cult classic, the film is beloved by many. Over the years, there have been many rumors of a sequel, but nothing definite has been announced.
Next to be served up at The Entertainment Chuckwagon: 40 years of Jaws! See you in June.
Story by Chuck Brutz for Pennsylvania Bridges