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THE GOONIES
25th Anniversary Blu-ray Edition

Film review by Alex Haberstroh
Technical specs by Michael Jacobson

Stars:  Sean Astin, Josh Brolin, Jeff Cohen, Corey Feldman, Kerri Green, Jonathan Ke Quan, Martha Plimpton, Joe Pantoliano
Director:  Richard Donner
Audio:  Dolby TrueHD 5.1
Video:  Anamorphic Widescreen 2.40:1
Studio:  Warner Bros.
Features:  See Review
Length:  114 minutes
Release Date:  November 2, 2010

“Goonies never say die!

Film ***1/2

Following the overnight popularity of 1978's classic Superman: The Movie and its sequel, director Richard Donner went on to demonstrate that he could master almost any genre, roaring into the eighties with everything from comedies (Richard Pryor's The Toy), taut action films (Lethal Weapon), to even a twisted new spin on a classic Christmas tale (Scrooged).  In between it all though, he also directed a modest adventure film called The Goonies.   

Revisiting the film 25 years after its inception, I nervously wondered if the film would still hold the same magic that it had when I was running around in pj's and carrying a lunchbox.  Would fashion mistakes (pretty much anything the cast is wearing), or cheesy sets and effects, in our now CGI laden films, make The Goonies nothing more than a dated cult classic?  While the film isn't flawless in the above departments, thankfully, as does Back to the Future (which coincidentally came out a month later that same summer), The Goonies, like a fine wine, has managed to keep its flavor with age.   

Like many films of the 80s, The Goonies is a reaction to, or backlash against, the values of the so-called "era of greed".  Unfortunately for the residents of Astoria, Oregon, progress has arrived at the gates of their beach community.  A lucrative country club and golf course has been planned for the area where their houses currently are.  Despite the residents' protests, the owners delight in seeing the trouble they've caused, rubbing their hands together and dreaming of how much money the new golf course will bring in. 

Lamenting that he and his gang of friends (“The Goonies”) will be torn apart, Mikey (Astin), desperately tries to devise a way his father can pay his bills and save the town.  Discovering an old pirate's treasure map in his father's attic, Mikey, the leader of the rag tag bunch, convinces his friends that he has just been handed the key to saving their town: they must find the treasure.  So the adventure begins.   

To my surprise, The Goonies was quite the coveted title in the early days of DVD.  The explanation?  The film is probably a little different for everyone, but at its core, captures the awe and mystery of many great adventure films.  The story really isn't that complicated, but it permits the actors to breathe their own life into the story. 

For The Goonies, this is works as the ensemble cast is full of talented actors who are likeable and have motivations that are easy to identify with.  With a reluctant, grammatically challenged leader, a sarcastic smartass, a loveable eating machine, a quirky inventor, a confident jock, a smitten cheerleader, and a bespectacled cynic, it's hard not to find someone to empathize with in this crew of misfits. 

In conclusion, this is one of my favorite Donner films and, with his body of work, that's saying a lot.  With smart dialogue from Gremlins writer Chris Columbus, good pacing, a winning cast, and great direction, this one will still be a popular favorite for another 25 years. 

Video ***1/2

This is a nice presentation from a troublesome era for film preservation...The Goonies is looking quite good on this high definition transfer, with better detail and coloring than previous presentations.  Not quite perfect...unfortunately, a few of the darker scenes, of which there are many, exhibit a bit of graininess and murkiness from the original film stock, but this isn't really a transfer flaw; the original theatrical presentation was much the same way.  Overall though, a solid job that should be pleasing to fans.

Audio ***1/2

Despite the grandness of the adventure, when you get right down to it, this is a mostly dialogue-driven track.  That's possibly why the movie has endured; attention to character and not just spectacle.  The spoken words are clean and clear, although occasionally just a tad thin-sounding because of the age.  The bigger action-oriented scenes get the most attention from this TrueHD mix, and those are where the dynamic range and discreet channel sounds really come alive. 

Features ****

Warner went all out with a treasure chest of packaging features for this film's quarter century anniversary.  The big box contains an actual new board game (anyone remember those?) where you and up to three of your friends can try and escape from One-Eyed Willie's cave!  There is a reprint of the original 1985 souvenir magazine (which I used to have, once upon a time), a reprint of the Empire magazine article "Where Are They Now?", and ten storyboard cards.

The best extra on the actual Blu-ray disc is a commentary with director Richard Donner and all of The Goonies' children, which help's answer the magazine's question of where they are now.  The kid who played Chunk, for example, is now a lawyer and a handsome fellow!  The track is probably one of the best I've ever heard, with the cast of kids and Donner offering up personal stories and insight about the film, as well as ragging on each others' and their own performances.  Adding to that, the film occasionally minimizes, so you can watch the commentators and see their reactions to what's going on.  This was an especially impressive feature, as you get to see what the kids turned out to look like from adolescence. 

Next up is the Cyndi Lauper music video "The Goonies R' Good Enough".  After that is the full frame “Making of The Goonies.”  While this isn't the typical backslapping featurette, in that it's somewhat enjoyable, it certainly is out there.  Also included are the much sought after Outtakes.  For some reason, just as with Back to the Future, there are a few versions of this film available.  When it aired on TV in the US, a lot of scenes were taken out, such as when the kids leave the house on their bikes, and drop in on the local drug store where Mikey discovers how to follow the map, and the local bully burns part of the map.  Finally, these scenes, and the now notorious (and highly over the top) “Octopus scene,” fans have desired, is incorporated.

Rounding out the disc is the film's trailer and a cast and crew list. 

Summary:

This movie was a treat for me as a kid, and still gives me great joy as a cranky old adult.  I felt a bit like a child in a candy store going through this impressively packaged Blu-ray from Warner.  Treasure truly abounds here...enjoy!

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