Spoiler Warning: If you have not seen The Goonies, please know that I will be discussing key elements of the film, so if you want to watch the film and haven’t seen it, this is your warning that we’ll be talking about major highlights to the film.
In addition, here’s the rating of the film:
The Goonies (1985)
Runtime: 1 hour, 54 minutes
PG Rating, via Motion Picture Association of America: “Some Material May Not Be Suitable for Children – Parents urged to give ‘parental guidance.’ May contain some material parents might not like for their young children.”
THIS FILM MIGHT NOT BE FOR EVERY KID
For all parents everywhere, I must warn you that my wife and I were overly cautious when showing both kids The Goonies. We watched it ahead of time, and honestly, I did not recall the first parts of the film. So, we did not show our kids the opening scene that highlighted one of the three criminals, where he pretended to be hung from a noose in his jail cell. This was a ruse to lure the guard in and incapacitate him, but we did not feel this particular scene was appropriate for our kids.
Beyond this scene, there are car chases, gun fire, and creepy, dungeon-like sequences where the Goonies are traveling underground to find their way to a hidden treasure, which we did let our kids watch. I believe this film is proof positive that every single kid in this world is different. All kids express themselves differently, and all kids believe any particular thing might be scary. In the case of The Goonies, our seven-year-old was much more apt to leave the room for several minutes, because she did not like the treasure hunt that led to the creepy restaurant with the scary villains. Our five-year-old, however, was engaged and ready to see what happened next as the Goonies took another step forward in finding the pirate gold.
I think as a parent, it’s important to identify what things might frighten our kids. In the case of this film, our daughter did not like the dark basement, knowing that there was “bad guys” skulking around and keeping another person locked in chains. Additionally, The Goonies is a wonderful opportunity for parents to address a character like Sloth, who might look different, but letting your kids know that different doesn’t mean less or scary is an important moment for a child’s development. Sloth is angry in the beginning being locked up in chains and unable to reach his food, but kids might not correlate those two things. Our son was very receptive to learning that being locked in chains would change someone’s demeanor, but looking different didn’t mean that they were someone to be afraid of.
Growing up with this film, I’ve always found The Goonies to be something as a “rite of passage.” As a parent, it’s a clear and ever-relevant thing to understand that each of our kids has different tolerances. Our daughter might be more afraid of those dark and creepy places, with three bad guys who are clearly up to no good. On the other hand, our son was much more engaged in the story and not concerned about those bad guys and just wanting to see where the Goonies found themselves next. The Goonies is a wonderful adventure story, and it’s a fantastic tale of trying to explore the great unknown. Although I didn’t have any of the issues watching this as my daughter did, understanding how a child might react is equally important, which is why we opted to skip the opening scene.
As a massive fan of this film, I must admit that it does have some intense moments that might not be appropriate for some children (ages 5 through 7). The Goonies follows a cast of characters who are hoping to prevent their families from being evicted from an evil corporation trying to buy out their homes. Their only hope is to follow an ancient pirate map found in Mikey and Brand’s attic, two Goonies played by Sean Astin and Josh Brolin, which leads them throughout various points in their hometown. In this journey, we see a collection of booby traps, an amazing waterslide leading to a lost pirate ship, and a basic understanding that good deeds or intentions can be rewarded, while the bad never reap the rewards.
FINAL THOUGHTS: AGE APPROPRIATENESS
Although I don’t recommend the opening scene for parents to let their youngest kids watch The Goonies, I do believe this film is fun at heart. Despite our daughter not enjoying several parts due to being “too scary,” I still think that most kids ranging within our kids’ age range will be able to watch this film.
As always, it is important to watch a movie first before letting your kids watch a film. My wife and I did this and skipped the opening sequence, but it still left our oldest scared at times. Since every child is different, please use your best judgment for your kids to determine if The Goonies is right up their alley.
If you need any additional moments that might be scary for the younger audience, let’s take a quick look at some scenes that might be too overwhelming. There is a car chase with plenty of gunfire. The Goonies also shows a person bonded to chains and treated horribly. Most of these moments happen earlier in the movie, but there are other moments to be on the lookout for. Along the search for the treasure map, the Goonies find a previous treasure hunter decomposed as a skeleton after being pinned by a giant rock after tripping a booby trap. The only other worthwhile scary mentions might be the skeletons present in this film and characters having to walk the plank, including one being cut by a sword before falling overboard. If you’re also worried about any foul language, there are a few moments of Meghan and I telling our kids not to repeat those words.
Despite both kids not having the same experience with this film, I think it’s a valid reason to express why #StoriesMatter. Every single person is different. Each of us takes a story and deconstructs in a way that is either entertaining or not. With our kids, it’s important for them to realize that fictional stories might be scary, but we always will hope for the greater good. I know I told Adelaide, despite it being scary, stories are a great way to cheer for characters to succeed – or in this case, laugh when a bad guy slips on an oil-soaked log and lands in a not-so-comfortable place. The Goonies does a wonderful job at helping kids identify that things are not always what they seem, and it’s okay to be apprehensive when we put ourselves in a fictional character’s shoes. Learning from fictional characters can be a very good thing.
Our kids were able to see kids of their own age be brave in the face of danger, creative when presented with challenges, and wanting to do good for the sake of their families. That’s an overall message that stands out, and another reason to say that this film is timeless. The Goonies reminds us all of a time when going on adventures on our bikes, exploring the great outdoors, was a favorite pastime. Plus, using our imaginations and depending on friends never goes out of style.
If you’re a fan of The Goonies, please share your experiences with the film and if you’ve let your kids watch it. We’d love to hear your kids’ reactions, and please let us know what other movies are perfect for their age groups.
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Until next time, happy parenting and happy geeking.