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If two hours of screaming kids pretending to be in an Indiana Jones movie isn’t your idea of fun then you might want to skip the pleasantries and see the real deal instead. While I am sure it was fun in its day, Richard Donner’s supposed family classic has gotten rusty.

Movie
I remember watching this movie as a kid myself. I remember being in awe of the danger, the action and the never ending suspense. Unfortunately this movie doesn’t hold the same weight it may have done nearly twenty years ago. Sure its fun and it has some touching moments but when scene after scene of screaming kids monopolise the foray it gets a bit weary.

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Steven Spielberg and his cronies of the mid-eighties and nineties pieced this story of family fun together. Hot off the success of Indiana Jones, Spielberg set out to craft a swashbuckling kiddy version of his now adventure classics. Their idea was to subject these poor kids fighting for their town to mortal peril. The kids are thrown into dangerous caves and find themselves in an underground lair where a pirate ship dwells. It may sound fun on paper, but falls short with just one thing: its direction (specifically, its vocal direction).

Richard Donner, who seems to be trying too hard for Spielbergian vision during the shooting of this movie, unfortunately stumbles far too often. The problem that persists throughout the entire movie is the dialogue mishmash. The young prodigies seem relentlessly out of control for most of the film, often screaming, shouting and causing mayhem in every frame. It’s almost as if Donner gave them no dialogue coaching. Scene after scene the kids talk and interrupt one another, which is great and realistic but frustrating when it comes to understanding what they’re saying.

The plot is fairly straightforward and probably a bit predictable at times. Neighbourhoods of kids are miserable with the thought of their town being ripped apart for an attraction being built in its place. With no money to fend off the ravaging authorities the kids are told they have one day to pack their belongings. All seems lost until one of the boys (Mikey) discovers an ancient treasure map hidden in their parents’ attic. Desperate for a cause not to go on a whirlwind adventure, several of Mikey’s friends set off on a death defying quest for gold and possibly their town’s freedom. There is really only one phrase to describe the script and that would be to call it pure silly fun.

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There’s a surprising amount of violence and blasphemy in this picture. Surprisingly most of the swearing comes from the kids themselves, who mustn’t be older than ten years of age at best. These kids almost meet their end several times, nearly get impaled by deadly spears, crushed by falling boulders and shot at from the films antagonists. All in good fun of course, but one wonders if producers could get away with this kind of juvenile violence in this day and age.

Sets and production values are mostly impressive for the budget, not least the cave during the finale. Kids can go either way with acting talents but Donner and his team did a good job with the casting. Most, in fact all of the kids turn in terrific performances, not least a certain youthful Sean Astin.

The Goonies may have lost steam over the years; the irritating vocal direction is certainly off-putting. In saying this however it’s all good natured and fun enough for children to enjoy. Don’t expect too much and it shouldn’t disappoint.

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Video
The only strong and succeeding part of this DVD is the picture quality. The print is mostly gorgeous and should impress anyone looking for a good re-master. If it wasn’t for the decidedly eighties fashion trends and some dodgy effects, I’m pretty sure the film would look brand new. During some long shots there’s a visible amount of noise on the transfer, most notably during the sunset scene at the end. Other than that, everything here is in perfect shape. Colours, black levels and definitions burst out with clarity. Warner really delivered here and this print (considering the age of the film) deserves recognition.

Audio
One word sums up this audio mix; inactive. The centre channel is the only speaker that gets any activity and I don’t know what the folks at Dolby were playing at when they mixed the soundtrack. Dialogue is often border-lining silence, even in the most active of scenes. I found the sound on this DVD to be an aggravating experience overall. Even with maximum volume channelled to the centre speaker, voices were still muffled and incomprehensible. It’s not really worth mentioning anything about the rest of the sound field; for the most part none of it sees any action.

Extras
Not so good animated menu screens are complimented with a slender helping of features on the whole. It’s perhaps not surprising then that the extras lack greatness much the same as the rest of the package. The typical Warner snap case doesn’t go to help matters either.

Richard Donner’s commentary aided by the grownup Goonies provides some first rate background knowledge on the film and its stars. At regular intervals the film snaps down to the bottom of the screen as video from the recording session opens up. I quite enjoyed the commentary but it often dries up in places and there’s more than the occasional eye-rolling moment.

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For those who wondered why the kids tell us about an octopus at the end of the film will finally be enlightened when you see the deleted scenes. This scene, like the rest of the outtakes as they are called on this disc aren’t much to shout about to be honest and you’ll probably only watch them once.

The documentary ‘The Making of the Goonies’ is by and large underperforming. Clocking in at around seven minutes it feels more like a promotional feat rather than something you’d want to use for cognition.

Rounding out the rest of the features; the theatrical trailer is extraordinarily dated and not something one would want to use to encourage newbie’s. The lengthy Cyndi Lauper ‘The Goonies ‘R’ Good Enough’ music video provides some entertaining foot-tapping fun but if you embarrass easily you might want to avoid playing it in front of your parents or friends.

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Overall
A decent if slightly problematic eighties adventure flick with plenty of thrills and spills to win over any kids under the age of ten. It’s aged pretty well considering, but there's no denying it’s lost much of its class in years gone by. That’s if it had any to start with. It could have been so much more if a few changes were made during its production. Conceptual wise the whole story could have been better. I would've just been happier with tighter vocal direction.

The DVD Package, while not problem free, should be duly noted as being the best this film will ever look. For fans, this is probably going to be the definitive version of the film available for quite some time, so a recommendation would be easy bearing that in mind. For anybody with a casual interest, I would only recommend this DVD if you have either seen the film once before or lap up films of this sort. The audio mix and host of extra features aren’t particularly impressive and seem only catered for those with a mild interest in the digital format. Buy only if you are sure.


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