JAYSON BLAIR: I don’t remember The Goonies opening with this shot of a giant skull. And then the camera zooms right into the skull’s eye socket! Do you remember that?
STEPHEN GLASS: Not really. How old were we when this movie came out?
BLAIR: I think I was probably ten or eleven. I also don’t remember the movie’s first actual scene being set in a jail.
GLASS: This sequence I do remember: the notorious Fratelli family making their daring escape. This movie doesn’t waste any time, does it? Bang, let’s start this Goonie adventure.
BLAIR: Already it’s a much darker movie than I remember. It opens with a skull, prison, and a man pretending to have hanged himself who then beats some cop senseless. It’s kinda bothering me. I would have done a few things with this scene a little differently. For one, I would have set it in a French Bastille. A Papillion kind of thing. The Fratellis would have been underground journalists unjustly imprisoned by—
GLASS: And here’s Mother Fratelli. Mrs. Throw Momma from the Train.
BLAIR: Annie Wilkes. That was her name, right?
GLASS: I think we can confidently say that she’s the homeliest woman to have afflicted the big screen. She’s dead now, so I think it’s all right to say that.
BLAIR: She was a man. Wasn’t she?
GLASS: She does look like a man.
BLAIR: No, no. Wasn’t she actually a man?
GLASS: We can check that later. So here Ma Fratelli and her boys are making their getaway, and these small-town cops—look at this. They’re bumbling idiots. Pretty much all the adults in the movie are. Now, adult ineptitude is always staple of the children’s film genre, I know. But I’ll tell you what. That doesn’t lessen the emotional impact of the scenario. People in positions of authority are incapable of understanding the pain of those they hold in judgment. I think that’s the thing I’ve always related to in this movie.
BLAIR: And the friendship.
GLASS: The friendship. Absolutely the friendship.
BLAIR: But are you talking about the friendship between the Fratelli brothers or the Goonies?
GLASS: Between the Goonies. Are the Fratellis even friends? They hit each other, threaten to kill each other. But Goonies never say die. I feel estranged from these grown-up characters. And they remind me too much of… people I’ve known. People who couldn’t understand what I was… experiencing. You know what that’s like.
BLAIR: I’d understand it a lot better with a little Colombian marching powder, if you know what I mean. Hey, do you have any?
GLASS: You just did some. Ten minutes ago.
BLAIR: Thirteen and a half minutes ago. It’s okay, though. I’ll live. Anyway, here we’re getting montage shots of the various Goonies in their everyday lives. There’s Kerri Green, leading her cheerleading squad as the Fratellis speed past. Do you remember her? I like those pink shorts over the gray sweatpants.
GLASS: Very nice look.
BLAIR: It looks pretty fine on her, man. Hey, you mind if I do the bachelor shuffle here a little bit?
GLASS: Uh… pardon me?
BLAIR: You know, make the hooded cobra spit. Audition the finger puppets.
GLASS: Actually, you know, I think I do mind.
BLAIR: Have you ever noticed that the young women they had in movies back in the ’80s are so much hotter than they are today?
GLASS: Christ! Put it away!
BLAIR: Sorry, man. Here’s Mouth! I just like that kid. Easily the most likable character in the movie. You know he speaks Spanish?
GLASS: Yeah, he’s very bright. And irrepressible. He enlivens the movie. He’s not obsessed with literalism. And here we have Martha Plimpton, dunking herself into some big oil barrel or something. Who could forget her blond hair and gamine charm? But what do you suppose she’s doing?
BLAIR: I think she’s lobstering maybe.
GLASS: And here we have Short Round. I’m pretty sure this was post-Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.
BLAIR: How about this montage device? Not many children’s films open up with a wild, gunfire-exchanging chase that tears through all of the characters’ lives while the credits are rolling.
GLASS: Donner is a genius. Superman? Genius. Lethal Weapon? Genius. Lethal Weapon 2? Seminal.
BLAIR: Do you think the Goonies are racist?
GLASS: Well, they live in some small town in Maine, right? Oh, look. This is very clever. The Fratellis have snuck into some kind beach race to escape. Their 4×4 looks like all the other 4×4s, and they shake the cops. I don’t remember this at all. Hey, here’s Samwise looking out his bedroom window while his brother Brand is across the room lifting weights.
BLAIR: You ever notice that Brand and Samwise seem to have a pretty violent relationship? They’re always hitting each other, pushing each other around. But look—Mouth enters again, combing his hair and wearing a Purple Rain T-shirt. And he’s drinking a Pepsi. The taste of a New Generation. The Goonies was the film of that New Generation.
GLASS: Jayson, I’m not disagreeing. So why are you yelling?
BLAIR: I’m not yelling. Here Mouth is telling Samwise and Brand that they should have another “Goonie weekend.” What do you think a “Goonie weekend” entails, exactly?
GLASS: Adventures. Fabulous, exciting adventures. Just you and your friends making things up. Going out into the woods and walking around. Crafting incredible stories about your exploits.
BLAIR: But no one believes the Goonies either.
GLASS: And now, the humiliation of poor Chunk. Why are they so cruel to Chunk? It’s not right. He’s one of them, a Goonie. He doesn’t deserve being made to do the Truffle Shuffle.
BLAIR: You know, I went to grade school with Chunk.
GLASS: You went to grade school with Chunk?
BLAIR: Of course I did. What about this contraption they use to open their front door? I think getting a chicken to lay an egg would be pretty hard to guarantee every time someone rang the doorbell.
GLASS: I don’t know. Seems pretty straightforward.
BLAIR: The whole device is based on a chicken laying an egg every time a balloon pops next it. That’s kind of hard to predict, isn’t it?
GLASS: Why are you being so literal?
BLAIR: I’m sorry. I’m just… I’m a little tired.
GLASS: It wasn’t my idea to start this commentary at four-thirty in the morning. Now Short Round comes sliding into Samwise’s house to the theme music of James Bond. I like that the Goonies have such a casual regard for private property. The friendship again. They forgive each other.
BLAIR: Hey—are you crying?
GLASS: Sorry. It’s, like, my contact or something. Hey, check this out: Chunk just broke the statue, the family statue of Michelangelo’s David.
BLAIR: And Samwise is trying to put David’s penis back on—another thing I don’t really remember.
GLASS: I think I blocked that out.
BLAIR: We have seen gunfights and 4×4 races, broken penises, and skulls. It’s sort of hard to imagine this movie being released for children today. And look at this: Brand and Samwise’s mother walks in, followed by that housekeeper Rosalita.
GLASS: Taunting Rosalita, mistranslating all of Samwise’s mother’s instructions. But why are they hiring a housekeeper when they’re all about to get thrown out of their house? And why did she just go shopping for all that food?
BLAIR: Listen to what Mouth tells Rosalita! “The marijuana is in the first drawer. The cocaine is in second. The heroin is in the bottom.” He’s totally messing with her. Cocaine always goes in the first drawer. Question: Why didn’t Feldman become a superstar?
GLASS: His star burned so bright. He made people love him, but then they stopped. It’s tragic, what happened to him. I cherish his work in License to Drive, Dream a Little Dream, and Friday the 13th Part IV: The Final Chapter. But there’s no way around the fact that he may have peaked in this movie.
BLAIR: He did have the qualities, didn’t he? Everything was there. But I don’t think he had the rage, maybe.
GLASS: Now this is important. The Goonies are talking about the “rich stuff.”
BLAIR: I’ve got no complaints with rich stuff. Follow that rich stuff.
GLASS: Here they go up into the attic. I have never understood this thunderclap and lightning bolt that occurs in the middle of a pretty sunny day.
BLAIR: They got some weird-ass shit in their attic, don’t they? It’s like they live with Mr. Wizard.
GLASS: It’s a big attic, too. Brand is looking through some kind of National Geographic book of pirate pictures.
BLAIR: The Goonies are rejects. That’s what’s being established here. They’re on a mission. This is where Samwise finds the map, and once again Mouth displays his Spanish skills. Looks like he can read even this really ornate, flowery, seventeenth-century calligraphic Spanish. That’s impressive.
GLASS: “One-Eyed Willie.” The first mention. Look at the terror in the Goonies’ eyes. But also curiosity.
BLAIR: We said “one-eyed willie” a lot when I was a kid, too, but it had nothing to do with a pirate.
GLASS: Where are you going with this?
BLAIR: I’m saying that if people are wondering why a certain generation of young people may have grown up with a certain shall we say disregard for the rules, well, look no farther than The Goonies. Hey, where did you grow up?
GLASS: Chicago. You?
GLASS: I thought you grew up in Virginia.
BLAIR: We lived in a small Maine town at lot like the one we see in The Goonies. And I didn’t want to bring this up, but my friend Chunk and I founded a small group of kids that were always getting into trouble.
GLASS: Did you call yourselves the Goonies?
BLAIR: Let’s just say that when this movie came out a few years later, starring Chunk, I felt a little betrayed.
GLASS: Right. Betrayed.
BLAIR: Now they find a newspaper article about the missing treasure-hunter Chester Copperpot.
GLASS: When do we meet the girls?
BLAIR: Martha Plimpton and Kerri Green? Hey, is Martha Plimpton George Plimpton’s daughter?
GLASS: I think she’s related to George Plimpton. Maybe a niece or something. Uh-oh, here comes Troy and his country-club dad, the guy throwing the Goonies out of their house. They have words with Brand. Listen to the condescension.
BLAIR: The Goonies was actually filmed in the house where I grew up.
GLASS: Is it ever really established how they were going to kick everyone out of their homes? Legally, I mean.
BLAIR: They bought all the land, man. It’s pretty Palestinian.
BLAIR: Yeah. Mr. Jenkins coming in, kicking all the Goonies out of their houses, building golf courses. Do I have to spell it out for you?
GLASS: I didn’t realize you felt so strongly about the Palestinians.
GLASS: The Goonies’ only chance to get out this mess is to find some valuable jewels.
BLAIR: Rich stuff!
GLASS: Is this Maine? Or is this Oregon? What state are we in?
BLAIR: It’s definitely Maine. Hey! On the television! Cyndi Lauper!
GLASS: Short Round, Mouth, Chunk, and Samwise just tied up Brand with his work-out equipment.
BLAIR: Off they go on their Goonie adventure. So why are there Spanish pirates in Maine?
GLASS: I don’t know. You tell me.
BLAIR: How would I know?
GLASS: I thought you grew up in Maine.
BLAIR: I told you, man. Oregon. I grew up in small-town Oregon.
GLASS: This is a great comedic touch here.
BLAIR: Yeah, when Brand chases after the Goonies and steals the bike from Short Round’s sister.
GLASS: And there’s Martha Plimpton in the back seat of Troy’s car.
BLAIR: Troy, who is Brand’s archenemy. Troy drives a Mustang while Brand has to pedal around on Short Round’s sister’s bike. Fucking humiliating. Is it just me or does Troy try to murder Brand here?
GLASS: This is a pretty violent episode. Troy’s driving at least fifty miles an hour while holding on to Brand’s arm.
BLAIR: And the bike’s wheels start to smoke.
GLASS: Now Brand goes flying off of a cliff, basically.
BLAIR: So: destruction of property, attempted murder.
GLASS: In that order.
BLAIR: Back to the Goonies, pumping their bikes up a hill while, behind them, looms the coast of… what coast are we on here again? My short-term memory is fucking shot. Where does The Goonies take place? Is it ever established?
GLASS: This could be the Caribbean, what with all the pirate activity.
BLAIR: So, like, Libya?
GLASS: You never did leave New York, did you?
BLAIR: Well, it’s funny you should ask that. It was a rather Goonie-like thing, actually.
GLASS: Do you think maybe watching this movie as a child had some kind of effect on your later behavior?
BLAIR: I’m absolutely willing to suggest that.
GLASS: And now the gunshots.
BLAIR: Gunshots! Shit.
GLASS: No, no. Come out from behind there. They were movie gunshots. Gunshots coming from the old restaurant.
BLAIR: Jesus Christ. Sorry. Okay, now I remember this. Didn’t you always fantasize when you were a kid that you’d run into mobsters in some run-down, old tourist restaurant?
GLASS: I fantasized about all sorts of things when I was a kid.
BLAIR: Were you a lonely kid?
GLASS: I guess I was a lonely kid. Not unlike Chunk. What’s he doing here? He smells food from the restaurant.
BLAIR: He’s constantly looking for food, like a foraging bear. He plays a role that, in most movies, an animal or robot or some shit plays. Don’t you think?
GLASS: What, comic relief?
BLAIR: Comic relief. I think that is basically discriminatory.
GLASS: Look at Chunk’s curiosity here.
BLAIR: Now they all run into Divine in the restaurant.
GLASS: That’s Ma Fratelli.
BLAIR: And Cypher from The Matrix! And the Character Actor guy.
GLASS: And now Ma Fratelli threatens to cut Mouth’s tongue out of his head. He’s holding a knife to poor Mouth’s throat. This is pretty terrifying.
BLAIR: And here’s where Samwise runs into…
GLASS: The creature.
BLAIR: Another pretty trippy turn for the movie to take—an Italian mob family who keeps a mutant son chained in the basement.
GLASS: I pitched a piece about that once. Maybe I could still do it. Do you know anyone at Fangoria?
BLAIR: I know someone at Cracked. The Character Actor is torturing his mutant brother by singing opera to him.
GLASS: Not a bad voice, either.
BLAIR: And he throws food in his face. I’m sort of getting freaked out here, man.
GLASS: Just hold on.
BLAIR: Who wrote The Goonies?
GLASS: I think Chris Columbus did.
BLAIR: The director or the explorer?
GLASS: Well, there were pirates back then.
BLAIR: There were. That’s one connection. How did Brand find them in the restaurant?
GLASS: I’m not sure. He’s been searching high and low after that fall off the cliff. Look at his face. It’s all scarred up.
BLAIR: Looks like he tied that bandana around his head to stop the bleeding. I happen to know a little something about your Brand, there. He had a career before The Goonies. Rough trade, if you know what I mean. And all the chicks show up. Which one makes out with Samwise?
GLASS: I think the pretty one.
BLAIR: Martha Plimpton?
GLASS: Martha Plimpton makes out with Mouth.
GLASS: Showing some precocious sexual ability.
BLAIR: Chunk and the mutant make out, too, don’t they? They do some weird candy bar sharing thing.
GLASS: It’s very nice that the girls show up because they convince Brand to stay and continue the Goonie adventure. This is where the roller-coaster ride begins. Enough exposition. Let’s start exploring fake caves while stumbling upon plaster skeletons.
BLAIR: And although the Goonies are getting a chance to look at a real live mutant, Brand and Kerri are making out.
GLASS: Chunk breaks a water cooler, and the spilled water shows the Goonies their way into the caves. But first they find the counterfeit money, and Short Round starts pocketing it. What’s interesting about this scene is that the Goonies have no problem thinking this is a perfectly legitimate thing to do.
GLASS: And Chunk smells ice cream coming from the Fratelli’s freezer.
BLAIR: He smells dead white guy, I think.
GLASS: For some reason the ice cream overpowers the smell of the dead body that’s also in the freezer. This is the first of many bodies that fly out at us.
BLAIR: Dark—this shit is dark!
GLASS: The Fratellis don’t waste any time, do they? They just busted out today and they’ve already got dead bodies in their freezer.
BLAIR: The dead guy’s face pushes right up against Chunk’s!
GLASS: The Fratelli’s are back but they don’t hear the screaming kids underneath the floorboards. There’s something hapless about the Fratellis, isn’t there? But the Goonies, in their rush to get into the tunnels, lock Chunk in the freezer with the dead body.
BLAIR: I think The Sopranos owes a lot to The Goonies.
GLASS: Maybe as the bridge between The Godfather and The Sopranos?
BLAIR: I wrote a spec script for The Sopranos once.
BLAIR: There was a basement mutant in it, but I don’t want to talk about it. It’s a gag-order thing, actually.
GLASS: I can’t believe they just locked Chunk in a freezer. And the dead body keeps falling on him.
BLAIR: Not a lot of movies today involve young children with corpses.
GLASS: None leap to mind. They still haven’t realized that Chunk is in there.
BLAIR: How do you feel about Chunk getting cut off from the group and having to go get help? What does that mean to you? Is that why you’re crying again?
GLASS: Just—leave me alone, okay?
BLAIR: You’re both Jewish, right?
GLASS: Please just drop it.
BLAIR: So, finally, the Goonies’ adventure begins. These subterranean caves have an awful lot of light in them, don’t they? Are there caves that have light in them? I mean, by definition, aren’t caves naturally dark?
GLASS: There were lit caves in The Land of the Lost.
BLAIR: Sleestaks! Did those things freak my shit right the fuck out!
GLASS: Pylons, too.
BLAIR: Pylons? The apelike things?
GLASS: No, Pylons were those little triangular rocks that they had to go into and, you know, do stuff with.
BLAIR: But what were the apelike things they hung out with called?
GLASS: I don’t remember any apelike things.
BLAIR: Don’t fuck with me, all right? They hung out with all these apelike creatures.
GLASS: Who? Marshall, Will, and Holly?
GLASS: Marshall, Will and Holly, on a routine expedition.
BLAIR: We just missed a lot of the movie talking about sleestaks. Here’s where Chunk spills his guts to the Fratellis after they’ve captured him.
GLASS: This is one of the great torture sequences in ‘80s children’s films. Back to the Goonies, in the plumbing nerve center beneath their town.
BLAIR: Mouth’s intelligence is again evident in this scene. He knows where they are and what these pipes do.
GLASS: Aren’t they about to take out the entire town’s water system?
BLAIR: This is class warfare.
GLASS: Back to the Fratellis as they threaten to put Chunk’s hand in a blender.
BLAIR: He’s going to sing like a canary.
GLASS: He admits to an awful lot, that’s true, confessing to a series of episodes which are mildly embarrassing to mortifyingly embarrassing.
BLAIR: I think Chunk did the wrong thing here. What he should have done is resign.
GLASS: And the Goonies find Chester Copperpot’s body. Chester Copperpot: not a very effective explorer.
BLAIR: Not exactly Indiana Jones.
BLAIR: Kerri starts freaking out. I love this part. She keeps asking Brand, “Don’t I have a beautiful body?” over and over.
GLASS: Yeah, she’s hysterically cataloguing all of her attributes and seeking some kind of affirmation.
BLAIR: Does she remind you of anyone?
GLASS: Kerri? No.
BLAIR: She’s not a little Hanna Rosen-ish? The hysteria? I mean, you’re the one who knows her.
GLASS: Yeah, well, I thought I knew her.
BLAIR: I just know what I read in the papers.