I mentioned on Facebook a few days ago that The Goonies, one of my favorite films of all time, was about to turn thirty. It seemed to surprise a few people while reminding them of how old they were. Quality movies have a way of acting as friends who we stroll with through life. We quote the lines, we envision the scenes playing out in reality (take the recent escape of two prisoners in New York being likened to The Shawshank Redemption by the media), and we develop a fondness of certain characters—quirks and all.
The Goonies is no different in this case.
You probably know the plot already, but here’s a quick synopsis: In the town of Astoria, there are a rather eclectic bunch of kids who wonder what the future holds for them and their families. One rainy day, Mikey is at home with his friends Mouth (a jokester fluent in Spanish—just ask Rosalinda), Data (inventor of wacky contraptions that work irregularly), and Chunk (a certifiable klutz often harassed by Mouth). Since the house is about to be razed to make room for a golf course, they decide to take a look inside Mikey’s attic and discover a bunch of ancient artifacts of the town and a treasure map. When the guys want to try to find out if the map is real or not, Mikey’s brother, Brand, tries to shut the operation down, but to no avail. He later finds himself (along with Andy and Stef) caught up in the search for One-Eyed Willie’s ‘rich stuff’ while trying to avoid a trio of chronic criminals known as the Fratellis. Throw in some Indiana Jones-esque booby traps (after all, Steven Spielberg had a hand in the film), Sloth, and a pirate ship, and you’ve got the makings for a film that has withstood the test of time.
I rewatched The Goonies last weekend with my teenage daughter and realized that a good story trumps cinematography tricks and fancy CGI any day. This film was pretty cutting-edge at the time with a pirate ship, skeleton organ, waterslide tunnel, and music video that helped to propel Cyndi Lauper to stardom. Now…not so much. Thankfully, director Richard Donner decided to cut the octopus scene, as the special effects are laughable–though Data refers to it at the end of the story. But the kids’ life-changing journey is still pretty harrowing (just ask Chunk about the blender) and holds many things that we can take and apply to real life.
In the DVD commentary, which I highly recommend, it’s revealed that Donner wanted to make sure he got the best possible reaction from the kids at all times—even if it meant handling the script in an unorthodox manner. After Andy plays the bones, the group slides down an incredible waterslide and lands in an underground lake. Only at that point were the actors and actresses allowed to see the pirate ship for the first time. The cameras were rolling for their reaction: one that was genuine, unreleased, and what the audience sees in the film. To this end, there are many situations we face in life where we’re unable to see the final outcome immediately. We have to trust, with a measure of faith (see Hebrews 11:1), that God knows better than our finite minds and plans. On many occasions, the end result can leave us amazed and awed at how much better His ways are than ours (see Isaiah 55:8-9). We just have to be willing to wait and be patient.
The concept of temptation is brought to life by the film through the wishing well scene. The crew is given the option by Troy, a high school jock trying to make it big with Andy, to end the quest by riding up the bucket he lowers to them. After Mikey gives his “Our Time” speech (See? The film is so old that I’m even giving speeches titles!), Andy chooses to send up Troy’s jacket instead.
There are many times in life where we have the chance to give up on something incredible by stopping the journey too soon. Perhaps we’re in the middle of something that we know we’re supposed to be doing, but something unforeseen steps in the way, threatening to divert us from the goal lying ahead. This is when it’s important to remember that nothing has tempted us that hasn’t tempted someone else at some point in time. Besides, God is faithful to not let you deal with stuff you can’t handle (see 1 Corinthians 10:13). The goal is to keep focusing on the eventual reward and not allow oneself to succumb to immediate gratifications, no matter how enticing or enthralling they may seem. Remember that Jesus overcame every temptation thrown His way—yet did it without sin. This provided us a way–through His life, death, and resurrection–to be reunited with God forever (see Hebrews 4:14-16).
A third point of discussion comes in the area of greed. The Goonies were the first to get to One-Eyed Willie’s riches and began acquiring as much loot as they could carry. Data saw a scale filled with coins and grabbed a few, only to have Mikey tell him that gold was for Willie and to leave it. Later on, the Fratellis plunder the same room–only this time, Mama lifts the scale and sets off a booby trap that causes the ship to set sail one last time.
It’s easy to see why people want as much as they can—after all, some people just seem to be born with whatever they want, whenever and however they want it. Sometimes this involves money, but it can also involve houses, cars, attention, status, power, number of Twitter followers, and the list goes on and on. Yet Jesus gave His disciples a specific warning about this in Luke 12:15 (NIV): “’Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.’” We don’t get to keep anything gained on earth when this life is over—even if we’re an A-List celebrity. The happiest people are often those who are simply content with what they have and nothing more. Our star-struck society needs to learn this lesson sooner rather than later.
If you have access to a copy of The Goonies, you should watch it soon. The rich lessons you see on screen will help to make you a better person in real life.
Nobody can take that away from you–even the Fratellis.