Study Guide

The Goonies Behind the Scenes

  • Director

    Richard Donner

    Dick Donner (that's what his friends call him, right?) is one of those Hollywood greats a lot of young whippersnappers don't know about. Most of his success came in the 1980s and 90s, having directed films like The Toy, Ladyhawke, Scrooged, Radio Flyer, Maverick, Conspiracy Theory, and the Lethal Weapon movies. But he also had a few biggies in the decade prior, most notably The Omen and Superman.

    In fact, Donner even included a nod to his most popular directorial efforts by dressing Sloth in a Superman shirt during his scene on the pirate ship—and we think Sloth rocks that tee harder than Clark Kent.

    For Donner, one of the toughest parts about directing The Goonies was that he broke W.C. Fields' golden rule: "Never work with animals or children." The cast of the movie weren't uber-young, fortunately, but even still…trying to get a bunch of young boys to stop goofing off together and concentrate on making a movie had its challenges.

    Donner also had to contend with Spielberg, who had a precise vision for this project and was more hands-on than many other producers might have been. For the most part, though, they worked pretty well together.

    In fact, according to all the 30th Anniversary Goonies tributes, the whole filming process sounds awesome. Richard Donner and his crew did things like all slide down the waterslide together—which is a fact that makes us insanely jealous.

  • Screenwriter

    Chris Columbus and Steven Spielberg

    Chris Columbus finished the first draft just as the Santa Maria was docking in the New World for the first time. He had difficulty selling it for a few years, as more people seemed to be focused on settling and avoiding smallpox than reading treatments and query letters.

    Okay…different Chris Columbus.

    This Chris Columbus has been a fixture in the film industry since the 1980s, with The Goonies being one of the early hits that established him as a major player in Hollyweird. His other screenplays of note include Gremlins, Nine Months and Christmas with the Kranks. He's also stretched himself plenty in the years since, racking up a ton of directing and producing credits, having attached himself to such megahits as the Home Alone movies, Mrs. Doubtfire, Fantastic Four, Night at the Museum and the first two Harry Potter films. He also directed the 2015 disaster Pixels, but we won't mention that one. Too late?

    As far as Goonies is concerned, Columbus penned the actual screenplay, but he couldn't have done it without the original story concept…which belonged, of course, to the brilliant Mr. Spielberg. But all those quotable lines ("Goonies never say die," "Hey, you guys!" and "Gee, mister…you're even hungrier than I am") are thanks entirely to Columbus.

  • Production Studio

    Amblin Entertainment

    If it's the 1980s, and you've got yourself an adventure movie aimed at young people, and it's being produced by Steven Spielberg's production company…you're in pretty decent shape.

    Well, that was the case with Goonies. Amblin Entertainment (you can tell it's Spielberg's baby because of that flying bike helmed by a shrouded alien in the logo) produced the film, with Warner Bros. handling distribution.

    Interested in Amblin's record with adventure movies? Check out this list that would make any producer drool:

    And that's just a taste. Basically…if Amblin produces your movie, it's going to be entertaining as all get-out, it's going to feature an extraordinary cast of actors, and it's going to rake in a boatload of money—like a bigger boatload than One-Eyed Willy's.

  • Production Design

    Real Live Stuff

    Shot on film, The Goonies is fortunately devoid of CGI or other over-the-top special effects. That pirate ship was built by actual people out of actual materials—it's not computer animated. Those bats were made out of papier-mâché. There were no skeletons getting up and walking around, waving swords around and looking menacing. (No offense, Pirates of the Caribbean. We think you're swell.)

    Why does that make a difference? Because it seems real. It's the same reason the first three Star Wars movies were huge hits and the next three were complete duds. The movements of Jabba the Hutt might have looked a little silly at times, but at least you could tell the actors were interacting with a real thing, and not just prancing about in front of a green screen.

    In The Goonies, the production allows us to lose ourselves in the kids' adventure. It looks almost as if someone went down there with them with a handheld video camera (and maybe a few lighting and sound guys). Everything looks simple, natural, and perfect.

    Honestly, the most impressive special effect in the entire film was making actor John Matuszak turn into Sloth.

  • Music (Score)

    Dave Grusin

    Turn off the television, your iPod, whatever podcast you're listening to. Close your eyes.

    You can still hear it, can't you?

    By "it," we could be referring to either that stirring opening track (appropriately titled "Fratelli Chase") that makes several more appearances throughout the movie, or to that Cindy Lauper song (also appropriately titled "Goonies 'R' Good Enough") that kicks off the Goonies' adventure and then returns again to play over the end credits.

    Both are memorable, and both are super catchy. You'll be singing these songs in the shower (or dancing in the frozen foods aisle when they play them in the supermarket) for the rest of your life. Just accept it.

    "Fratelli Chase," as well as most of the rest of the score, was composed by Dave Grusin. This dude has had quite the career creating iconic Hollywood soundtracks, including The Graduate, On Golden Pond, and Tootsie. Aside from that he's also compiled an impressive resume as a recording artist and producer, racking up an Academy Award and two hands full of Grammys (if he could hold one Grammy with each finger).

    One of the awesome things about "Fratelli Chase" in particular is that it's totally unlike what you'll find in most film scores in movies aimed at kids…in that it's reminiscent of a classical orchestral piece. It's something you might hear if you spent an evening at the opera (which goes along with Jake Fratelli's tendency to break into operatic solos). Of course, most viewers won't notice that they shouldn't like it, or think that it's boring—they'll just be caught up in the exciting car chase and start digging the background music.

    There's also the "Goonies Theme," which is played during some pivotal scenes, including a couple of Mikey's big speeches, and several other minor themes that play up either the comedy or the excitement of specific scenes.

    Grusin probably could have come up with some more creative titles for his many "themes," but he probably wanted to save his creative juices for the actual composing. Good call.

  • Fandoms

    We're All Goonies

    As is true with most movies that develop a cult following, The Goonies has fans and fan sites up the wazoo. When kids saw this movie in theaters, they didn't just want to see it again, buy a couple of action figures, and call it a day. They wanted to be Goonies. And really, there was nothing stopping them. Call up a few of their friends, go down to the dock, watch for suspicious activity…bam. Instant Goonies.

    Here are a few of the sites out there where lovers of the film have devoted perhaps a bit too much of their lives to celebrating it:
    If you want to become engulfed in Gooniedom, this is the place to go. In addition to all the usual multimedia stuff, from here you can "find other Goonies," keep up on the latest news, and even take the Goonie oath.

    Fortunately, they don't ask you to prick your finger and smear blood on your computer monitor to show that you really mean it, so they haven't gone completely overboard.

    "Obsessed Goonie" Fan Site
    This one's pretty meager—basically just some movie stills and some actor quotes—but there's no denying the guy's love of the movie.

    A ton of images, vids, polls, quizzes, quotes and other links. Should be enough to keep you out of trouble until Rosalita and Mrs. Walsh get back with the groceries.