Sunday, June 06, 2010

Celebrating "The Goonies" at 25

Yesterday, the church young adult group I'm a member of, MAYAs, went on its first official get-together for the first time since December's visit to the Grotto. This trip was to Astoria for the 25th anniversary celebration of The Goonies, which put the picaresque hillside town on the map. More about Astoria, later. We were a small group...just Jeff, Erica, and myself. When I got home and logged onto Facebook, I learned that another young adult church member had also gone to Astoria for the day with her husband. Darn! We missed the opportunity to see one another and hang out for the day.

The day turned out to be beautiful and a "balmy" 68 degrees, with sun. Our region had been getting rather heavy rainstorms for several weeks. With the Rose Festival going on in Portland, its a good thing that we're spared the rain for the weekend. Not that I'm complaining about the rain, because I'm one of the weirdos who actually loves the Pacific Northwest's rainy season. You can tell who's an "immigrant" and who's a "native"...generally! Californian transplants have been known to whine about the rain or having difficulty adjusting to the long "rainy season" (mid-October to mid-June). The reason why I'm not bothered by it is because I lived six of the most impressionable years of my life in Europe and fell in love with its climate (only the Pacific Northwest region in North America is similar to Europe regarding the mild climate).

I can't remember when I heard about a 25th anniversary event taking place in Astoria, but I wanted to go...even though I'm not a huge fan of the film. However, I only watched the movie for the first time last year! Can you believe that this kid of the 1980s actually missed out on The Goonies? Well, much of that had to do with the fact that when my family lived in Nebraska, we were far from a movie theater and only went to see movies that my dad wanted to see (James Bond, Return of the Jedi, Ghostbusters, and Romancing the Stone). He had no interest in The Goonies. I did want to see it at the time, since the kids in the film were the same age as me and it had the Spielberg magic (though he was merely a producer rather than the director). So, I never got to see it, and lost interest in seeing it. I kept hearing people rave about it, though, and since it was filmed in Astoria and Cannon Beach, and I had visited those places when my parents visited in October 2008, I decided it was time to finally watch it last year.

The problem with seeing a children's movie as an adult is that I missed out on the magic. I had to turn off my mature adult's mind from the ridiculous plot and couldn't relate to the young teenage boys. The question remains...would I have loved this movie had I seen it in theaters 25 years ago? I think I might have. I liked a lot of the teenage films back then, but it was no Karate Kid or Ghostbusters.

The film does have its charm, though, and it was interesting to see this film as an adult with the knowledge that the teenage older brother Josh Brolin has become a rather hot commodity in Hollywood (with his marriage to Diane Lane and his recent roles in No Country For Old Men, Milk, and as George W. Bush in Oliver Stone's W.) and the younger brother (in his debut) went on to play a perfect Samwise Gamgee in the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Corey Feldman could never seem to break out of his personal ties with fellow actor Corey Haim and Michael Jackson. The Asian boy had a one-two punch of this film and Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. One of the bad guys (Robert Davi) went on to play a Manuel Noriega-esque bad guy in James Bond's Licence to Kill, while the other bad guy (Joe Pantoliano) played Cypher in The Matrix. And the fat kid (Chunk) actually lost weight and hardly looks the same. Perhaps he got unmercifully teased by other kids after the movie that he decided he did not want to be that person. I've read that Henry Thomas (of E.T. Elliott fame) had a difficult time with others in the aftermath of that successful film. Children can be especially cruel. Had we gone to the same school (he's the same age as me), we probably would've been natural friends.

Several cast members were supposedly in town to meet fans and sign autographs, but this was a ticketed event. So was the bus tour through town of the famous movie location sites. While The Goonies put Astoria on the map and still remains as the best known / best loved of the films that used this town as a setting, there are other famous films. Notably: Short Circuit, Free Willy, and Kindergarten Cop. Though the film did not break $100 million at the box office in the summer of 1985, it was considered a hit (thanks to a relatively small budget) and spawned copycat teenage buddy movies: Stand By Me, Explorers, and Monster Squad.

Soon after arriving in town, Jeff, Erica and I opted to ride the trolley for an orientation of the town. The trolley tourguide pointed out various sites and shared some secrets of the films. This took longer than expected, as the trolley moved pretty slow and it was well over an hour. For lunch, we ate at a cool restaurant called "The Wet Dog." After perusing the mouth-watering menu, I opted to try a "buffalo burger." Is this a "violation" of my vegetarian/pescatarian diet? Not really, because my reasons for opting out of the meat consumption lifestyle was about the environmental impact as I learned more about how food is processed in this country. Since buffalo meat is not a common menu item, buffalo is not raised in "The Meatrix" type holding pens. I have also eaten venison that a co-worker's husband had killed and sliced himself. However, this won't be a common occurrence. Another meat I will likely try someday is ostrich. After today's lunch, though, I'm back to my regular vegetarian / pescatarian diet.

We walked to "the Goonie house", which was quite a walk. On the way was the maritime museum, which I had to stop to check out the souvenir store because a year or maybe longer ago, I had a strange dream in which I was in Astoria and browsed a gift shop in a museum and was shocked to see that they sold a ballcap with "Community of Christ" on the front (in the brand name lettering). In the dream, I was shocked but pleased. Also in the dream was the pastor of the Portland congregation. He and I got into an argument over it, because he wanted to tell the store that they could not sell the ballcap without the church's permission. My view was that it was a good thing because it exposed people to the church name. I thought it should be flattering for us that a store was willing to seel such a ballcap. This dream has perplexed me ever since I dreamt it. I have no idea what it means. Obviously, it wasn't a prophetic dream, because the souvenir store did not sell such a ballcap. I would have freaked out if it did, though.

"The Goonie house" was a popular stop, as scores of people walked up the gravel road to the house. Tickets were required to enter the house, but anyone could snap photos of the outside. Down the road, another house had people outside selling "Goonie juice" for 50 cents. Several homes in the neighbourhood had entrepeneurial kids selling goodies and lemonade for passerbys. I didn't think children actually did that anymore. Well, why not? The day was warm, beautiful, and one of the rare moments when huge swarms of fans descended on the city for this special weekend event.

At 4 p.m., we decided to wait in the growing line outside the downtown movie theater to see the special screening of the movie (complete with a new documentary that will be available on the 25th anniversary DVD). It was $5. Since I never got to see this movie in the theater, I thought this was a great way to end our day. I don't remember a lot of things about the movie, but I was looking forward to the kind of "movie magic" details that are fresh in my mind...such as the ridiculous scene where the kids leave the house on their bicycles, ride through the forest on some highway, and miraculously end up in Ecola State Park, overlooking Haystack Rock in Cannon Beach (about a 45 minute drive from Astoria). The theater was packed. Most of the people seemed to be a part of Generation X, with some who are younger. Saw very few Baby Boomers (surprise, surprise...not their kind of film, I suppose). In fact, it was interesting to see just who the fans are and there is no consistent demographic one could claim. There might have been a few "nerdy" / "geeky" types, but there were a lot of jocks and creative types as well. In fact, I saw one guy dressed in Brandon's (Josh Brolin's character) sweat gear. He looked a lot like the actor, too.

After the film finished, it was still light outside, so we decided to take in the view of sunset from the Astoria Column at the top of the highest hill. First, we drove by the jail (seen in the movie) and a beautiful Victorian mansion. My camera was giving me problems, though (it looks like I'll finally have to go digital, which I've been wanting to do for a few years now), so I was only able to take one roll of film.

The scene from the top of the hill in Astoria was breathtakingly beautiful. Erica was kind of pouty about it, saying that she didn't get why anyone was impressed with it. Seriously? I was surprised. She may be the first person I met who actually thinks such a thing! When my family stopped at the column near sunset in October 2008, we were all captivated by the surrounding scenes. It is truly one of the most beautiful scenes I've seen anywhere: from that vantage point, you can see the town below, the huge bridge to Washington, the wide mouth of the Columbia River, several peninsulas, other rivers, and of course, the Pacific Ocean. I breathed in the beauty of the scenery and committed it to my memory bank. When I have moments of stress at work, I often bring up scenes such as this to center me in peaceful bliss. THAT'S WHY I LOVE VISTAS such as this!

The above photo was lifted from a Google-image search. I think it was taken from "the Goonie house" or in that vicinity. What I love about Astoria is that it reminds me a lot of my grandparents hometown of Atchison, Kansas. In fact, they should be considered "sister-cities". Both towns are on steep hillsides, next to a major river, with a lot of beautiful Victorian mansions. Both towns also have a population between 10,000 and 12,000 residents. Astoria is called "The San Francisco of the North" (another "town" famous for steep hills, Victorian mansions, and massive bridges).

Below is a map of the northwest corner of Oregon. Its about a 90 to 2 hour drive from Portland. Not a bad way to spend a day. Seeing such beauty as Astoria kind of makes me want to stay in the area. There are other reasons, as well, but my desire for a satisfying new job trumps anything else. My goal is to enjoy this area for as much as I can, because who knows what this summer might bring?


Mandalynn said...

I love Astoria. Plus I love The Goonies as much as I did 25 years ago. I loved it so much that as a child I wanted to rent it every time we went to the local grocery store (they had a small video rental section). Eventually, my mom bought it for us. It was one of the first movies we owned on VHS. Thanks for this nostalgic post.

Anonymous said...

I also love Astoria and also didn't seen The Goonies until I was an adult. When I did see The Goonies it was with a delight in a childhood adventure and fantasy that I wanted to reconnect with as being more important than the treadmill of getting a paycheck.

Anonymous said...

Wasting time is robbing oneself.