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Soundtrack review: The goonies (Dave Grusin – 1985, 2018)

Film scores

Soundtrack review: The goonies (Dave Grusin – 1985, 2018)



“The Goonies” is a 1985 American adventure comedy film directed by Richard Donner, who produced with Harvey Bernhard. The screenplay was written by Chris Columbus from a story by executive producer Steven Spielberg. A band of kids who live in the “Goon Docks” neighborhood of Astoria, Oregon, attempt to save their homes from demolition, and, in doing so, discover an old Spanish map that leads them on an adventure to unearth the long-lost fortune of One-Eyed Willy, a legendary 17th-century pirate. During the entire adventure, they are chased by a family of criminals, who also want the treasure for themselves. Dave Grusin wrote the score.

“The goonies” is quintessential 80s in that unique style that only Spielberg of Stephen King could imagine (and the guys doing “Stranger things” these days”). And yet as big a fan I am of the genre when I saw “The goonies”, as a kid, I simply didn’t like it so I never returned to it. So many years passed, now Josh Brolin just played mighty Thanos in Avengers and even if I didn’t like the movie, it’s Dave Grusin so the score is a must; I just love his piano scores. This is a different kind of affair though as it’s an adventure movie so right from the start with “Fratelli chase” I am thrown in a whirlwind of orchestral delight, with bold brass sounds and a vivacious string section; yes, this is the kind of chase music I like, rich and entertaining. I am even more delighted when I find a Giorgio Moroder-like synth motif in “Map and Willie” that’s reminiscent of “The neverending story” and when I hear the tender and timeless “Goonies theme”; this is the kind of theme that brings warm and tingly nostalgia for both 80s story and for my life as a kid from back then.

What works best for this score it’s its childlike charm; Dave Grusin didn’t just write a cold score to support the movie, he wrote it as if he was part of it himself so the music has that combination of danger and innocence that is believable to me. There is synth mystery, there is orchestral tension and the composition is quite enjoyable outside the context of the movie as well. Strangely enough listening to this album brings back, at times, during the more suspenseful moments, the discomfort I felt when I was watching the movie way back when. I still can’t put my finger on it though but I only find my smile when that Moroder like motif returns.

“The goonies” is one of those scores that you can’t help but love; when adventure kicks in the orchestral delight is infectious and there are moments of surge when the score is simply unstoppable; they compensate some of the quieter, more tense moments. I don’t think Dave Grusin has ever written a bad score and I am happy to discover some of the things I had missed from his back catalogue. “The goonies” is fairy tale music at its most magical and I will surely return to it in the future regardless of my feelings about the movie. The musical nostalgia trip alone is worth the score.

Cue rating: 87 / 100

Map And Willie
The Goondocks (Goonies Theme)
Boulders, Bats And A Blender
Wishing Well And The Fratellis Find Coin
Mikey’s Vision
Oath And Bobby Traps
Triple Stones And A Ball
Pee Break And Kissing Tunnel
Water Slide And Galleon
Mama & Sloth
The Reunion And Fratellis On Beach
End Titles (Goonies Theme)

Mihnea Manduteanu

I have been listening to film music for 25 years and writing about it since 2014. I've written over 1000 reviews and I can't imagine myself doing anything else. I am also a member of IFMCA (International Film Music Critics Association).

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