Three Life Lessons I Hope My Kids Learn From 'The Goonies'

by Allison Slater Tate
Originally Published: 
Main actors in an epic scene from "The Goonies"

It’s been 30 years (!) since Steven Spielberg brought us The Goonies and we spent all summer with Cyndi Lauper’s “The Goonies ‘R’ Good Enough” stuck in our heads (See the video below if you would like a refresher. Remember when we had real, elaborate music videos?). Like any good parent, I have made sure my children have seen this childhood classic—and winced at the parts I didn’t quite remember, hoping they might fly over my kids’ heads. But I’m happy and proud to pass on the tradition of the “Truffle Shuffle” to a new generation, and I hope that in between the crass jokes and the now hopelessly outdated makeup and special effects, they might pick up a theme or two even more valuable than the jewels Mouth managed to smuggle away from the scary Fratelli family.

1. Goonies never say die!

The movie’s story is, inarguably, ridiculous. That’s not the point. The point is that when you are at that certain awkward age, stuck between being a child and being too “mature” to go along with such antics, The Goonies feels familiar. These guys are not the cool kids. They are not the rich kids. They are just kids, on an adventure, taking care of each other. They give each other a hard time, but you never doubt that underneath it all, they love each other and they would not give up on each other. They fight not just for themselves, but for their entire neighborhood. And they win. I hope my own kids see that scrappiness and that attitude about community and friendship, and that it somehow translates to them that people are worth fighting for.

2. Don’t judge anyone by their appearance or reputation.

The most important theme of The Goonies is probably that people are just people: Parents are human, the pretty cheerleader is actually friendly and cool, a group of misfit kids can be heroes, and, maybe most important, Sloth is not a monster at all. He looks scary for sure. He is treated like an animal by his own family. But despite all that, Chunk finds a common language (in candy bars, of course), and Sloth ends up being an ally. The truth is, we’re all Goonies. Everyone feels like the misfit some days. Everyone feels like Sloth sometimes. The bottom line is to recognize the humanity in each of us and to treat each other accordingly—even if it means sharing our candy bars.

3. Have your adventures, but know that your parents can’t wait to hug you when they’re over.

The Goonies is an adventure movie, and the adventure is only possible because the parents aren’t around to stop it from happening. But my very favorite line in The Goonies comes at the end of the movie, when Data’s father tells him, “You are my greatest invention.” I hope my own children go out and take risks and do scary things sometimes. I hope they mess up, get themselves into trouble, figure out their own solutions, and form friendships with their own people who get them and love them and know them. But at the end of the day, I hope I can be there to hug them and tell them that they are my greatest inventions too. I might be out of frame, but I always want to be there if they need me.

I was 10 years old when The Goonies first came out. Now it’s hard to believe I was ever 10 years old. But if there is anything the past 30 years have taught me, it’s that we are all, indeed, Goonies, and that life is an adventure. I can’t wait to see what my own little Goonies do with it.

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