Gary Conkling Life Notes

Mostly whimsical reflections on life

The Goonies Return to Astoria

People will flock to Astoria this weekend to relive “The Goonies,” which was filmed in this small coastal town 30 years ago.

The GooniesA festival of events, including a Goonies block party sponsored by the City of Astoria, will entertain eager visitors and local residents who lived through the filming.

Astorians are no strangers to Hollywood. The city hosted Arnold for the filming of the 1990 thriller, “Kindergarten Cop,” and the 1993 tear-jerker, “Free Willy.” There also have been movies featuring teenage ninjas, a military robot and Benji, who is lost at sea, swims ashore and shacks up with a family of cougars.

Put another away, no one from Astoria with connections to movie-making has made reservations to attend the Oscars.

“The Goonies” has achieved a move afterlife as the preferred flick for outdoor summer showings. Go anywhere in America, look for a chance to see a movie under the stars and chances are good you will be watching, for the umpteenth time, “The Goonies.”

Its longevity has less to do with quality cinematography than with a quirky story (written by Steven Spielberg) and a family rating that is perfect for a faux campground.

The plot involves a house foreclosure, a bunch of kids, a treasure map, a monster and a family of criminals running a counterfeiting operation. The kids are called Goonies because they live in a neighborhood called Goon-Dock, a not-so-subtle reference to Astoria’s location relative to where the cool kids live.

Special events ginned up by the chamber of commerce for this weekend include a tour of the Goon-Dock house slated for foreclosure, including a trip up to the attic where the treasure map is uncovered and the adventure begins.


Image by VirtuaLUG

You also can visit the former Clatsop County Jail (now the Oregon Film Museum), from which the Fratelli family busted out. A restaurant called Baked Alaska is hosting a Goonies trivia night in its bar. The Columbia River Maritime Museum has a “drunk tank” in honor of One-Eyed Willy, the pirate with the treasure map, which can be enjoyed in costume with a cup of grog. The local Armory will show off a Lego Goonies house sitting atop sea caves where The Inferno sails off. The geography is off, but you get the idea and wonder how many hours it took to build this thing.

Jeff Cohen, who played Chunk, the kid who puked from a theater balcony in the film, will be in town. Now slim and an entertainment lawyer, Cohen, according to Willamette Week speculation, may talk about his experience during five months of filming when he was always chilly wearing a Hawaiian shirt and hungry because he couldn’t find a decent slice of pizza.

I won’t be going to my former home town this weekend. I never liked “The Goonies,” either when it was originally released or in its ubiquitous summer revivals since then. The movie just seemed too loony, even for Astoria, which has a pretty loony past.

paddington_heroSuspending disbelief works for me, but mostly when I’m watching an animated film, like “Paddington.” We watched it last weekend and were enthralled by the seamless interaction between real actors and a rambunctious bear and its sweet, marmalade-coated narrative about how an outsider from “darkest Peru” finds his special place living in an attic in cold, rainy London.

It is a time-tested story parents have read often to their little children, with a message that can touch hearts of any age. In my view, it would be a much better movie-with-an-attic to watch while sitting in a lawn chair in an open square eating a hot dog.

Check out Willamette Week for stories about “The Goonies” weekend in Astoria.


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