I just got back from The Goonies quote-along at the Alamo Ritz in downtown Austin. If you've never been to a quote along, imagine karaoke for movies. Take a movie everyone knows and that everyone has watched dozens of times, add some quote-along text at key moments, and encourage people to talk during the movie. As someone who has seen The Goonies more times than I can count and who can recite much of the script unaided, this was a "can't miss" experience.
There were a lot of great movies around when I grew up: Star Wars, Indiana Jones, Back to the Future, Ghostbusters; movies full of adventure, humor and excitement. While those of us who were born in the final years of what is generally considered Generation X watched and loved these movies, they were mostly geared towards our older siblings and cousins. This didn't stop us from pretending to be Jedi, adventuring archaeologists, time travelers, or paranormal investigators though, but we were always removed by age from ever actually being those things. When The Goonies came along in 1985 the tables turned, it was our time ... it was our time for an adventure movie of our own with kids roughly our own age. And while I love Star Wars, Indiana Jones and the rest, The Goonies will always be the greatest adventure movie of all time for me.
I grew up in what was more or less nowhere Connecticut, in a neighborhood not too conducive to adventure. My parents were fairly protective and I was somewhat timid as well, so my excursions mostly involved my backyard. Compared to my street, my friends lived in much more interesting neighborhoods, with interconnected backyards, small wooded areas, and overall less concrete and traffic. It wasn't until we saw The Goonies that we really realized the full potential for adventure that lurked there however.
Here was a movie about working class kids in anytown, USA that go on a grand adventure virtually in their backyards. The Goonies didn't talk down to us, it didn't hold our hands, it even sweared at us several times, and it gave us an adventure where kids like us (not archaeologists or warrior space monks) were the central characters. These were kids who talked like us dressed like us, and acted like us to the point where it wasn't hard to see a little bit of Mouth, Data, Chunk, and Mikey in our own circle of friends. In our young minds at the time it didn't seem too far outside the realm of possibility that one of our parent's attics might hide a map to buried treasure and that the woods behind my friends houses might sit atop a vast tunnel network filled with booty traps ... I mean booby traps. Adventure wasn't just something for grown ups anymore, adventure was something we could live in our own backyards and live it we did. Sure our group name was different (and changed every week), our nicknames weren't the same, and we didn't need to save our parent's houses from a country club developer, but we felt the call for adventure. And while there was probably a great deal more mischief, and a great deal less danger than The Goonies experienced, it influenced and inspired us nonetheless.
I've run into people later in life who have never seen The Goonies and while there are movies that when I hear this I make that person go out and watch it, this isn't one. For me The Goonies was all about the time and place of being 8 years old in suburbia and my love for the film was only enhanced by mine and my friends attempts to emulate it. Someone who's 32 and watching the movie for the first time just isn't going to get that. For me the Goonies became a part of my life, a part of my world, a part of my DNA, and when I watch it now, from the moment Jake Fratelli breaks out of jail to the moment we see The Inferno sailing off into the distance, I'm 8 years old again traipsing through backyards and thickets of trees in search of adventure (and maybe buried treasure) in my own backyard.