Sunday, February 7, 2010

Bonedry Sledding Hills and the Goondock Saints...

The rarest moment in early parenthood, perhaps, is when one is up in the morning while the progeny sleeps.

He was up quite late two nights ago, and it finally has caught up to him, and so, with jazz tinkling on the boom box and coffee brewing in the pot, I have a moment to sit at the table, wrapped in fleece, grey light filtering in from the slatted blinds. Sunday morning. And the weather has done us wrong.

I am very happy for the kids to the south, for they have received the blizzard of a lifetime. I remember such a snowdrop--in '77, when my dad stuck a be-snowsuited me into a drift that came up to my waist, and they had to plow our 1000-foot driveway with a bulldozer. Today, the children of the southern mid-Atlantic can romp as never before in their young lives, and here's to that, but for most of Essex County, NJ, it's absolute bollocks--a mere dusting; the sleighs would only tear the crap out of the hill. Ah well.

At least there's The Goonies.

Released in '84, it was two years too late for me, but it must have been a generation-defining flick for kids born, say, '71--'74. In it, Samwise Gamgee, at age 13, leads a pack of hormonally hammered dorks who are on the brink of a neighborhood-destroying regime change, resplendent with hopeful hunk big brother Josh Brolin and improbable 80s genius Corey Feldman--sporting a Purple Rain T-shirt and brushing his feathered coif--effortlessly dishing out his best work; I write this without a stitch of irony. Throw in Jeff Cohen as a chubby hero; the iconic Jonathan Ke Quan as a pint-sized nonspecific Asian 007; Joe Pantoliano, who had to have been balding at 15 and who makes even sarcasm itself wince; and an operatic Robert Davi (Oh -- That guy!), one of the most sympathetic bad guys in the history of screwball tween comedies, and you get timeless cinematic bliss--one that the progeny loved last night, one that made up for the lack of a blizzard some 25 years after its birth. Oh yeah, and there's a pinhead. With suspenders and a Superman T-shirt. Just like Jesus in Godspell.

I'd be remiss if I didn't mention the racialist overtones in The Goonies (graduate students at the University of Silly Studies, take note, for herein lies more than one doctoral thesis). Ke Quan's accent is impossibly "Asian," which is meant to be funny; but wouldn't most kids be speaking unaccented Engrish by that time? And there's a recurring gag of a Hispanic cleaning lady who has the singular cinematic misfortune of auditioning for this turkey relying upon Feldman's character for translation. Ha, ha ha -- Look! She can't speak the language! At the end of the movie, I almost wanted her to keep the jewels and let the gringos' mostly lilly white world meet the wrecking ball.

But in Spielberg's world, the adults merely prop up the dorkitude for a lusty audience. A dusty pirate treasure map is discovered in the attic, and single-speed bike-powered, Cyndi Lauper-backed hijinks ensue. The Goonies are like Our Gang, and Sean Astin an earnest late 20-Century Spanky. Even at age 13, you can tell he knows all along he'll triumph at the end. 'Cause when your final destination is Mordor and your final goal saving all of Middle Earth, busting up a real estate deal in Northern Oregon is but a sweet flyswat of storytelling.


  1. I remember that snow storm in '77. We lived on Sherwood street next to the Tri-County electric company. They had a sizable parking lot, and plowed the snow from it into one big ass snow pile that was as tall as the company's building. We spent the next three days climbing, sledding and tunneling through that glorious pile of snow until they carted it all away in dump truck. Thanks for sparking that memory Mr. Blais!

  2. Unfortunately, my kids are are still small enough that the massive piles of snow that now line every inch of Vienna, VA are too big to do much with. Even trying to climb the pile that sits on our front lawn is more than their little legs and arms can handle. Although a neighbor did create a pretty-cool tunnel system in one of the piles. Oh to be an engineer.

    Enjoyed The Goonies commentary. I hope to see something similar on Aliens II.