The Goonies is the 1980s Version of the Hobbit

Last night, my husband had a night out with friends and I offered to take my kids to see Zootopia, which simultaneously has been called the best children’s movie since Beauty and the Beast AND an animated argument for racism and xenophobia.

Eventually, the kids opted to stay home and have a movie night. This is great because I don’t have to spend half of my husband’s paycheck on tickets and concessions, but also troublesome because the act of choosing a movie in my house is what I imagine to be similar to the UN dealing with any Middle Eastern country.

They eventually settled on Goonies. We’ve tried to watch it before but my husband, the Captain of the Fun Police, put the kibosh on it since the kids in the movie say “shit” and Chunk  hilariously and incorrectly glued the David statue’s penis on after breaking it off.

We all loved it. Unlike a lot of other movies I’ve seen and loved from childhood (*cough* The Neverending Story *cough*), Goonies really holds up, despite the lack of technology: “Kids, that’s a cassette player; cassettes came before CDs but after vinyl.” I think it’s a strong argument that great storytelling trumps special effects, every single time.

The Goonies, as everyone knows, stars Sean Astin, who went on to deliver an Oscar-worthy performance as Sam in The Lord of the Rings trilogy. I thought back to when I read and watched The Hobbit with my children, and an idea came to me: the two movies had a lot of similarities.

For example:

  • Both movies feature an unlikely ensemble on a treasure hunt to reclaim their homes. Thorin Oakenshield is determined to deliver an eviction notice to Smaug while Mikey and co. are desperate to prevent their houses from being destroyed.
  • The dwarves have a song that describes what happened to them and their home. The Goonies have an oath. OK, maybe I’m stretching.
  • When the dwarves arrive at Bilbo’s house, they eat everything in sight and although they eventually clean up, Bilbo practically had a coronary as the dwarves manhandle the furniture and decor. In Goonies, Mouth terrorizes the Walshes’ maid, Data obliterates the screen door upon entry and Chunk breaks the aforementioned statue and museum pieces in the attic.
  • Both groups feature an overweight oaf-like character: Chunk and Bombur. (The Fratellis threaten to eat Chunk just like the trolls try to eat Bombur and the dwarves.)
  • Mikey and Thorin both come across maps to the treasure that need to be translated. Mikey enlists Spanish scholar Mouth and Thorin, deferring to Gandalf and going against his better judgement, consults Elrond, the Elvenking, to make sense of his. (Mouth wholeheartedly approves of the journey while Elrond is much more cautious.)
  • Mikey and Thorin both faces tests that measure their greed. Mikey leaves some of the treasure for One-Eyed Willy, although Thorin succumbs to the same sickness from which the gold-hungry dragon suffered.
  • Everyone overcomes great odds to eventually succeed.

Of course, the Goonies’ journey is not as epic and takes place over 24 hours or so; not seven months. My son (loudly) reminded me that no one dies in the Goonies, while SPOILER three of the dwarves eventually lost their lives at the end of the Hobbit.

My daughter just smiled and nodded and said, “That’s great, Mom. Can we please watch our cartoons now?”



The Goonies is the 1980s Version of the Hobbit

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