Sunday, March 30, 2014

The Goonies


The producers of the What a Friend We Have in Cheeses campaign for the American Dairy Council have given me a deluxe new motor home for travel to the Appalachian locations where we are filming this week. As befits a star of my stature, there’s room for all thirty-seven pieces of my Louis Vuitton luggage, a fully stocked wet bar and the driver, Miguel, who doubles as a masseur. They have painted it bright fuchsia with “Mrs. Norman Maine – Living Legend” written upon the sides in flowing purple script. At least some people know how to treat a diva properly. We spent today driving up into the hills outside of Hazard, Kentucky to our first location, a quaint little clapboard church on the side of a hill near a rushing stream. For this segment, I am to be clad in an off-white robe, representing Monterey Jack, standing at a lectern on the lawn while the back-up dancers tap across the ridgeline of the church roof. 

We arrived at the location around three in the afternoon. The producers neglected to tell me that the quaint church was right next to a large open pit coal mine, that the rushing stream was hazardous industrial waste and that the building itself had been condemned sometime during the Coolidge administration. My glorious sateen Monterey Jack robe was soon looking a bit worse for wear streaked with coal dust and grime. Fortunately, only one of the back-up dancers actually fell through the roof of the church and escaped serious injury when they landed on some hay bales that were serving as makeshift pews. I sang
 Onward Cheez-it Soldiers over and over again while the cameraman got several angles of my flawless profile until we lost the light. I’ve rarely been so glad to retire back to my dressing area. 

The motor home has been equipped with a lovely home theater system so I was able to unwind with one of Miguel’s scrumptious margaritas while slipping in a DVD. Today’s choice was the 1985 film,
 The Goonies, an Amblin/Spielberg entertainment directed by Richard Donner. It has recently been re-released on DVD with extended features and a commentary track. I vaguely remember auditioning for the pat of One Eyed Willie in this production, but turning it down when I realized I would have to diet from my usual voluptuous figure to absolutely skeletal. 

The Goonies
 is an adventure film for older children which follows a group of seven youngsters from Astoria, Oregon. Evil developers are foreclosing on their parents so that the neighborhood can be turned into a golf course (despite it’s being located on a steep hill). The kids call themselves ‘The Goonies’ and the old home place ‘The Goondocks’ for no particular reason; they decide it’s up to them to save the day. A quick trip to the attic reveals a previously ignored pirate treasure map dated 1632 (a good two centuries before Europeans arrived in the Pacific Northwest) and the hunt is on. Soon, they’re exploring an underground labyrinth straight out of Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean, only with more water slides, and trying to escape a comic thug family, the Fratellis, who are into counterfeiting, murder and general mayhem. 

Our seven intrepid little heroes and heroines include Mikey (Sean Astin), the pre-adolescent brains of the operation, who spends most of the film demonstrating incredibly bad asthma inhaler technique; his big brother Brandon (Josh Brolin), the brawn; Brandon’s girlfriend, Andy (Kerri Green), who spends most of the film shrieking in a wet white tennis dress; Chunk (Jeff Cohen), the stereotypical obnoxious clumsy fat kid; Mouth (Corey Feldman), a know-it-all in two languages; Data (Ke Huy Quan), a would be James Bond with outrageous gadgets that work far better than their materials would suggest; and Stef (Martha Plimpton), whose character seems to exist solely to give Mouth someone to aggravate. The kids are all cutely obnoxious, each in their own way, and the film launched a number of them on to successful adult careers. Opposing them are the four members of the Fratelli clan- Mama (Anne Ramsey), a hatchet faced matron who makes Ma Barker look like Carol Brady; and her three sons, the rotten opera singing Jake (Robert Davi); the weasely psychotic Francis (Joe Pantoliano) and the thing in the basement, Sloth (John Matuszak). Most of the film is one long extended chase with the kids after the treasure and the Fratellis after the kids.

The film is anything but subtle and there’s a lot of bug-eyed reaction shots, screaming, and racing down rock corridors and through underground lakes. Director Donner, working from a script by Chris Columbus, keeps things moving so it’s rarely dull, just repetitive. Fortunately, the opulent production design, especially a full-scale pirate ship, provides enough eye candy to keep the adults in the audience entertained. There are also some funny throwaway bits involving a non-English speaking maid, a small child’s bike, and a frozen body.

The new DVD contains the film in a fine wide-screen transfer with a remixed 5.1 Dolby soundtrack. There are also a number of extras including a brief ‘behind the scenes’ documentary, and a couple of sequences that were cut from the final release. One of these stars the dumbest looking giant octopus since the heyday of Ed Wood Jr. and it’s clear why it had to be removed. The others clarify plot slightly but add nothing new to the characters or situations. Best of all is a new commentary track for which all seven of the now thirty something ‘Goonies’ have been reunited together with director Donner. There is some visual so it’s possible to see how those who did not remain in the business grew up. The big surprise is Jeff Cohen who slimmed down into quite an attractive man as he grew. He’s now a successful entertainment lawyer. The commentary is full of fun reminiscences but the gang do have a disconcerting habit of all talking at once. There is also a very long Cyndi Lauper music video in which most of the cast appears. Cyndi seems to be escaping from various professional wrestlers through the movie sets. Why this is necessary is not explained.

All in all, it’s an enjoyable film for older kids. It will never be a classic but there are worse ways to spend an evening with the family.

Police chase. Michelangelo's ‘David’ with broken penis. Electrostatic things in attic. Broken water cooler. ‘Baby Ruth’ product placement. Gratuitous toilet as water cannon. Scary piano. Gratuitous genital smashes. Gold doubloons. Walking the plank. Gratuitous Cyndi Lauper.

No comments:

Post a Comment