Twenty five years ago to the day, producer Steven Spielberg and director Richard Donner were probably meeting at the Amblin offices, right there on the Universal lot where they still reside today. They were probably having a conversation about the first day’s receipts and the weekend projections for their newly released film The Goonies. The project, which cost an estimated $19 million dollars, would go on to gross $61 million dollars at the box office. In the end, that was seen as a box office failure considering the fact that Amblin had released Gremlins a year earlier to the tune of $145 million. But at that point — 25 years ago today — they didn’t know what the results were. All they had was hope. I wonder what that conversation was like.
Years later, as a spry young boy, I would discover The Goonies on VHS. At its time of release, I was about a year and a half old, so seeing it in the theaters didn’t pan out. Though it could have happened, I suppose. Anyway, it was a VHS copy of the movie I had acquired by nefarious means from a friend’s house. And by nefarious means, I’m referring to the fact that he brought it over and left it at my house. After one viewing of the film — having experienced adventure that, to me at age 8 seemed larger than anything I could conceive of on my own — I wasn’t ready to give it back. No way, no how.
That’s my personal story about what the legacy of The Goonies is to me. It’s not an easy thing to talk about, this legacy, as everyone who grew up a child of the 80s seems acutely aware of it. If you were born between the years of 1975 and 1985 and you have never seen The Goonies, you missed out on something great. Something culturally relevant. But more importantly, you missed out on a great family adventure. One that had its dark moments right alongside its fun moments, that captured the spirit of what it meant to be an average American kid with a wild imagination. It also captured the essence of my young love for Rocky Road ice cream. What can I say? I was chubby then, too.
I’m of the belief that The Goonies will live on as one of the great family-oriented adventures for years, well beyond another 25. Not just because Goonies never say die, but they just don’t make adventure films like this anymore. Honest, spirited and full of characters just like the kids who grew up just down the street. The kids whose Goonies tapes you are still yet to return.
For a little extra bit of celebration, here’s a pair of my favorite Goonies videos. One being “The Truffle Shuffle,” and the other being the Cyndi Lauper music video that was attached to the film.
Good Enough Music Video: