The kids are alright

1 Nov



Remember when you were 11 and the world was always wondrous and everything was so much bigger and it was all just a big adventure? no, neither do I. But I do remember wanting the world to be wondrous and full of adventure but I had to seek real hard and it was a very rare thing to find. The Goonies understood this concept. When you’re a kid, you take a back seat in life, that’s a fact. you have no control whatsoever, you’ll do as you’re told, you eat what your parents made for you and your daily routines are pretty much mapped out. As a kid you want to find things that get you excited, you want to break away from ‘normal’ life because it has too many rules and boundaries and it sucks. Your mind and energy go into ten different directions at once and you have way too much time in your hands.

What I find frustrating about most adults making films/tv series  about kids, is that the adult personality of the writer tends to overshadow the essence of being kids. It’s either they are trying too hard to understand kids that it becomes clinical,  romanticizing it to the point of distortion, or even worse talking down to the kids by stereotyping them.

It’s like that TV show ‘The wonder years’, when I was a kid I watched the show quite often. It’s a good show and very well written/acted but in the back of my mind the main character didn’t feel real because any 11 year old real kids  I knew wouldn’t act that way. The character was too refined, too aware of his surroundings, its like putting an adult mind in a kid’s body and that’s the problem with most shows/films about kids. It doesn’t feel real. It feels too much like adult’s version of what kids should be.

The Goonies knew the delicate balance between realism and seeing the world through the wide eyed spirit of  kids with too much energy/enthusiasm with nothing much to do but wanting to do something/anything exciting and the chemistry between real kids. I was a kid when I first saw The Goonies and I found the characters relatable and it felt authentic. They made stupid jokes, they are mischievous, they act foolishly, they yell and run when they see trouble, they swear, they make fun of each other, they are easily intimidated but they can also be daring, loyal, kind, smart and ultimately brave enough to stand up against the bad guys. You know, like real human beings.

The relationship between Mikey and his brother is endearing, Data was just too cool and seeing an an Asian kid on screen with all these great gadgets was just bliss,  the unlikely heroism of Sloth, the annoying but charismatic Mouth,  Chucky’s truffle shuffle is truly classic in a self degrading way and I bet you in today’s plague of political correctness this scene wouldn’t see the light of day without raising some concern from some groups/organisations.

Truffle shuffle (Still funny)

And the scene where Mouth is scaring the maid is truly one of a kind. In this scene Mikey’s mother has a new Hispanic maid but she doesn’t speak Spanish and Mouth offers to help by translating what Mikey’s mom is saying but it’s not what the maid expects to hear:

Irene WalshPants and shirts go in the… oh, forget about it. Just throw everything into cardboard boxes. Clark, can you really translate all that?
MouthFor sure, Mrs. Walsh.
Mouth: [in Spanish to RosalitaThe marijuana goes in the top drawer. The cocaine and speed go in the second drawer. And the heroin goes in the bottom drawer. Always separate the drugs.

The movie was never afraid of showing kids in all their glorious faults, messy shortcomings and sometimes cruel ways they interact with others but that’s what makes it funny because kids do those things, it’s all part of growing up.

At the heart of it all, its a story about friendship and adventure. Mikey’s parents are in danger of losing their jobs/house and they  have to move out because of a dispute with the real estate developer. Mikey and his friends stumble into a treasure map in the attic and they set off to find the treasure so they can pay off the debts. Along the way they stumble upon the baddies, the  Fratellis who are also hunting for the treasure and the game of cat and mouse between the kids and the Fratellis begin, in the underground. The kids have to go through secret tunnels, avoiding booby traps while the Fratellis are not far behind and along the way they find the inner strength to overcome all odds and become better…em ….pirates.

The plot itself is nothing new but the layers of great adventure sequences, great characters and  solid script/theme made a rare  great story telling about capturing the spirits of care free kids in an adventure of their life time and the result was close to perfection. Even today, I can still be moved when watching this movie and not because I grew up adoring this movie  or because I have an emotional attachment to it but because this near perfect film reminds me of what it was like to seek a world where only the 11 yr old kids would know, it understood my inner Goonie.


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