by Anna Sjogren
You have seen this movie a hundred times. Why else would you be sitting here, of all places?
Here, in a bright football field in Astoria, the gem on the North Coast of Oregon. It is Saturday afternoon. The sun is setting.
This harbor town, perched on the Columbia River as it barrels to meet the Pacific Ocean. It is quaint and rickety and old and sleepy and starting to be cool, at least on the weekends. You visit every few months and go to the good vintage shop and the good brewpub and the amazing cajun diner and the fish & chip shop on the bay.
You were born in 1985. You and The Goonies are both turning 30 this year.
Your day is spent wandering around Astoria to check out all the sites where they filmed the movie. The old County Jail where the villainous Fratellis break out of prison—their bullet-ridden 1984 Jeep Cherokee is still parked out front. The bowling alley where Chunk smashes his strawberry milkshake against the glass as he’s riveted to the police chase outside.
You’re starting to get a sunburn on your shoulders.
(Okay, in case YOU haven’t seen The Goonies a hundred times, here’s the rundown. A group of friends get together for a final weekend before their homes in the Goondocks neighborhood are torn down to make way for a yuppie golf course. Our lead kid is Mikey, joined by his older brother Brand, nerdy gadget-obsessed Data, obnoxious Mouth, and beloved clutz Chunk. Meanwhile, the comic-book-villains, Ma Fratelli and her son, have just sprung the second Fratelli brother from the county jail. They’re on the run.
While rummaging through Mikey’s dad’s collection of historical knickknacks in the attic, the boys discover a crumbling Spanish pirate map and a brass doubloon. Nearby in the attic is a newspaper clipping describing the adventure of a man named Chester Copperpot who went off in search of the pirate One-Eyed Willie’s treasure. Enchanted, Mikey is convinced that they need to find this treasure and rescue their homes. Along with Brand and two of his classmates from the local high school, the Goonies set off on an adventure following One-Eyed Willie’s map, through a series of dangerous booby traps while being chased by the baddies. They also learn some things about friendship along the way.)
At the swag tent in Astoria, you can buy a dozen different Goonies tee shirts, Goonies mugs and shot glasses, magnets, socks, onesies, hats, action figures. You can take home a bottle opener shaped like the pirate key in the film. You can buy a foot-tall statue of Michelangelo'sDavid, just like the one that Chunk knocks over and breaks (although David’s dick is not removable so it’s not the most authentic of souvenirs). Baby Ruth candy bars are for sale all over town.
Let’s not forget that it’s summer! You pay high morale prices and Vitamin-D deficiency for nine months of the year in exchange for the perfection of Oregon summers. Residents pour onto the sidewalk like open fire hydrants. They flock to the nude beach, the bar patios, revealing as much skin to the bright as possible.
Parks across the state host movies on weekend nights and the city square in downtown Portland screens classic films on the brick steps with the vagrants and downtown traffic swirling around. There’s even a rooftop film series of independent and foreign cinema on top of a hotel.
The early evening is warm but as the sun sets, it quickly cools. You pack a lot to film-go in the summer: blankets to sit on and cover up with, picnic food, the kids, the dog, your neighbors, your coworkers.
Outdoor movies are such a perfect place to love cinema. Finally, you can shout and cheer for the hero and scorn the villains. You can be distracted by the crowd and the stars because you’ve already know what’s going to happen.
You’ve watched The Goonies on your birthday every year, starting around age nine. You watched it when your dog died when you were thirteen and you watched it when you were snowed in with your boyfriend in college. It plays in the background when you make dinner some weekday nights. It’s your go-to movie for anything: for winding down, for re-calibrating. It’s so comforting to see home on the big screen. Here’s an authentic portrait of Oregon during those not-summer months: on-and-off rain, windy adventures in Ecola State Park, dark evergreen forests. You’d get along great with these misfits and would certainly join them in protesting the yuppie golf course. You feel a sense of solidarity with them.
Especially when you’re sitting in the crowd of The Goonies 30th Anniversary in Astoria. There are 1980s costumes and Cyndi Lauper tributes. Everyone is here to watch a pack of kids on an underground pirate adventure. People are going to go nuts at the Truffle Shuffle and there will be a drunk couple sitting behind you who will be literally shouting every line out loud along with the actors. (Luckily for you, they will not last long).
Onscreen, Mikey will talk enthusiastically about the pirate treasure, “the rich stuff” they might be able to discover. “THE RICH STUFF!” your neighbors will howl. “DOWN HERE, IT’S OUR TIME!”
Well, they have a point. This is the rich stuff. You have so many memories with these characters!
But you are turning 30 this year. Childhood feels far away now and will only get further with each passing year.
Maybe you just came here to remember what it feels like. Before it’s too late, before you forget everything. The optimism, the exuberance, the energy. How did you change so much over the years?
“Down here, it’s our time!”
You are turning 30 but you’re also the same age you were when you first saw this movie. Let the weight of adulthood melt away in the setting sun and be your younger self for a few hours.
C’mon, try! Pull up a picnic blanket, the show’s about to start!
Anna Sjogren lives in her hometown of Portland, Oregon. She writes for the Portafilterland coffee profile project and is publishing a memoir this Spring through the Independent Publishing Resource Center's Writing Certificate program. She gets out of town as often as possible, via film, novel, or airplane.