Few movies have left their mark on Oregon or its culture quite like The Goonies. For almost 40 years, we've idolized the film and passed it down through the generations. It's become a part of who we are and what it means to grow up on the coast.
Released in 1985, The Goonies follows a group of children who set out to find the riches of the Pirate One-Eyed Willy in hopes of saving their homes. The film was directed by Richard Donner and produced by Steven Spielberg. It stars Josh Brolin, Sean Astin, Martha Plimpton, Corey Feldman, Ke Huy Quan, Jeff Cohen, and Kerri Green, as the core group of kids.
To this day, there are still people who refer to themselves as Oregoonians, or simply Goonies. There are packs of Goonie Gangs, museum exhibits, and tourist sites--many of which are part of what is known as the Goon Docks, named after the fictional neighborhood in the film.
We celebrate this movie and claim it as our own because for countless reasons, we do own it--just as all fans own a piece of art after it has been let out into the world, especially when it depicts a part of who they are. It represents us, and so will the sequel. Now that Disney+ has announced the new series, we need to know that it will live up to our expectations.
We know that they'll play to us--their core fanbase-- and give the usual nostalgic nod. They'll tell old jokes, refer to our favorite scenes, and insert tiny details for us to hunt down, but will it be enough? Will the magic still be there, or will we walk away feeling conned and dissatisfied? The story behind the series is compelling. It's worth taking a risk to find out.
Continuing an Old Tradition
For many of us, it's hard to believe that it's been close to four decades since The Goonies was released. How could something so youthful and fresh possibly be so old, and why would such a profitable franchise stop with one film? That wasn't the plan.
Over the years, we've seen many attempts to continue the magic. At first, the cast wasn't interested in making the fabled Goonies 2. Spielberg made an attempt at a sequel, but he couldn't come up with a story that he was satisfied with. There were even threats to make an animated show, as well as a musical version, both of which would've been certain disasters. Fortunately, they were averted.
When Richard Donner died in 2021, the idea of a movie was scrapped. But there were behind-the-scenes talks about developing a Goonies TV series, which was being pitched to FOX at the time. FOX ultimately rejected the pilot, saying that it wouldn't fit with their adult audience, so Disney+ stepped in, giving the franchise new life.
A Fresh Take
The original film was created by a powerhouse team with historic credentials. Getting them back together again would've been like lightning striking twice in the same place. It just wasn't going to happen, which meant that things were never going to be the same. So a new concept was created--one which could compel audiences and keep them engaged, while still retaining the adventurous spirit of the 1985 classic. They call it Our Time, based on an inspirational line from the film, and while it might not have the same ambiance, it has the potential to be just as good.
Gail Berman, the show's producer, spoke to Variety in an interview about the concept. He said that during his time at Paramount, a group of kids were working on an amateur project based on the Raiders of the Lost Ark. It was a shot-by-shot remake, going through the entire film. They received a bit of press coverage for their work, and it infuriated the studio. Ever since then, it stood out in Berman's mind. So when the idea for a Goonies TV series came up, he decided to use it. Warner Bros agreed to hand over the rights, once they saw that the director's wife and Spielberg's Amblin Entertainment were involved, allowing Disney+ to take the helm.
The show will be centered around a small town, in a similar fashion to Friday Night Lights. It tells the story of three children and their substitute teacher as they try to recreate The Goonies shot-by-shot.
It's like a game that many of us have already played as children. Old fans will relate to memories from their own past as they watch the kids act out scenes from the film. They'll be able to identify more readily with the realistic, modern setting, especially now that they've gotten older. Then they'll watch as the impossible becomes possible, and their childhood dreams come true. It plays with the plausible, a tactic that is very important for films geared towards adult audiences. We like real-world scenarios better than fantasy, and we prefer to have things explained to us. Having the treasure and the pirate ship slipped in will allow us to walk the plank into impossible territory. Writers are always finding ways to do that.
Unlike adults, kids want to believe that the real world matches up with their fantasies, and they're more willing to take that leap. The show will confirm their deeply rooted suspicions that fantastical things can happen.
This is in time with the themes of the original movie. Making people believe in the implausible was the goal of the film, and it sounds like Our Time might be able to do that as well.
This is all in theory, of course. The show might be total bunk, but the concept could work. It speaks to the psychology behind the fanbase, the way the movie made us feel, and the experiences we had after it was released. It's obvious that they researched the culture behind the film, and how it's played out in Oregon. That could pay off.
Influencing a Generation
The Goonies was more than just a movie. It became a part of our state's mainstream culture. It was filmed in familiar locations, like Astoria and Cannon Beach. Children saw their favorite haunts, streets they rode their bikes through, and rock formations they knew by heart. Then they were introduced to the idea that buried treasure and pirate ships could be found just outside their doorstep. It's hard to imagine anything more exciting--until you realize that there was truth behind that myth and that there was treasure still waiting to be found.
The concept for the film was based on what was known as the Beeswax Wreck, a Manila Galleon that was lost at sea on the northern coast. Settlers and natives had been unearthing artifacts for centuries, but the ship seemed to have disappeared. Fueled by rumors of pirates' gold, groups of children known as Goonies Gangs would scour the shore, searching for treasure. One of those children, now grown up, did in fact find portions of the Galleon in a sea cave near Manzanita. The rest of the hull is still missing, potentially underwater near the Nehalem Spit.
Celebrating a Classic
As the years went by, Oregonians started to memorialize their favorite film, marking the anniversary of the release, June 7, as Goonies Day. That entire week there were celebrations and events all over the coast. This year's annual festival was hosted by the Astoria-Warrenton Chamber of Commerce and the Oregon Film Museum.
There was an interactive scavenger hunt, styled after the film's adventure, screenings in multiple locations, museum exhibits, and sales of souvenirs, even a boat race. Fans also revisited famous sites found in the film, which are still available for viewing. The Goonies house is especially popular. The owners are gracious enough to allow passersby to come and take photos. The bowling alley from the beginning of the film is also a favorite. It's now known as Lower Columbia Bowl, and fans are often seen taking pictures of themselves looking out the same window where Chunk witnessed the famed police chase with the Fratelli's.
This year marked the 37th anniversary of the film's release. As a tribute, Astoria-Warrenton Chamber of Commerce held the Become an OreGOONIan Challenge, passing out booklets with activities and notable sites.
The Oregon Film Museum, which was once the County Jail from the movie, had patrons fill out birthday cards to the actor who played Chunk. There was also a costume contest held at the Liberty Theater, along with an 80s dance party, a photo-op in the Goonies Jeep, and a concert held by members of the band Heart.
What this proves is that the enthusiasm behind the film is still alive, and there are still fans seeking out their own adventure. They want to laugh, relive the glory days and gain a more personal experience with the franchise they love. This is more than just a cult following. Rocky Horror and Priscilla Queen of the Desert could barely dream of this kind of turnout. The Goonies has an entire county--and in many ways a state--celebrating the film as part of their heritage.
Local businesses seem to be profiting as well. The event's website contains the usual list of watering holes, restaurants, and shops, which means that the chamber of commerce will likely use the new show as a way to capitalize on the publicity. But it remains to be seen whether or not it will gain the support of the public at large. A good concept is nothing without proper execution. Maybe it will flop and people will ignore it, or maybe it will turn into a nationwide phenomenon, and new groups of kids will start scouring the beach in search of pirate ships and buried treasure. One thing's for certain, the mark that the original film has left on our state is never going away.
We hope you enjoyed this article. Don't forget to check out The Goonies Road Trip in Oregon for your next visit!