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"The Goonies" and "Stand By Me" are two similar movies from the mid 1980s. Released in 1985 and 1986 respectively, both tell the stories of two sets of kids in search of fame and fortune. For "The Goonies", it was the journey to find a real life treasure which would allow them to save their community. For "Stand By Me", it was discovering a dead body so that they would have fame throughout their community.

Both movies are similar in plot and characters, although Goonies is told from a child's perspective, while Stand By Me is told from an adult looking back on his childhood.

Origins of the Plots

Both movies start off with a treasure map. The Goonies discover a treasure map among discarded museum artifacts and decide to find the treasure. In Stand By Me, Vern had made a treasure map after burying a quart jar of pennies. He had lost that map after his mom threw it out. While searching for the jar of pennies he overheard where the Bower kid's body lay.

Similar Characters

The Dreamers

Each of the movies has a dreamer. In The Goonies, Mikey Walsh (played by Sean Astin) was the dreamer who urged the Goonies to dream big dreams, to try to find the treasure which would save their community from land developers.

In Stand By Me the dreamer is Gordie Lachance (played by Wil Wheaton), the writer and narrator of the story. He has a vast imagination and can tell some unique stories. He doesn't necessarily urge the gang to find the dead body of Ray Brower. During the movie he remarks, "Going to see a dead kid, maybe it shouldn't be a party." While the Goonies saw the reward at the end being worth the journey, Gordie saw the journey itself as reward enough. Quote:

"There was more, and that we all knew it. Everything was there and around us. We knew exactly who we were and exactly where we were going. It was grand."

Although nearer toward the midpoint in the movie, Gordie admits that seeing the body of Ray Brower was becoming an obsession.

The Outcasts

When you put a group of kids together, there will always be the weak one who is the butt of most of the jokes for the rest of the kids. For the Goonies it was Chunk Cohen (played by Jeff Cohen), whereas for Stand By Me, it was Vern Tessio (played by Jerry O'Connell). They were allowed to be members of the gang because of what they brought to the table. During the chase scene it was Chunk who had the super Sloth on his side, while Vern was the one who overheard the discussion which started the journey to find Ray Brower's body.

Interestingly enough both Chunk and Vern (who both had amazing or "boss" stories to tell) had trouble getting in to their gang's hideouts. Chunk was forced to do the truffle shuffle to gain entrance. Vern, forgetting the secret knock, was let into the treehouse by the (sometimes unwilling) grace of the rest of the boys. Both boys are self described as "fat." "Sure, spit at the fat kid," Vern proclaims during the course of the movie. Chunk calls himself Chunk, although the source of the name is a mystery, whether or not it was given by himself or his peers. I'm thinking the latter.

Food is a major interest for both Chunk and Vern. Vern asks "What am I supposed to eat?" when his food falls into the campfire. Similarly Chunk is seen going after ice cream in a freezer where dead bodies are stored. He is also seen beginning a friendship with Sloth based on a Baby Ruth chocolate bar. Perhaps this love affair with food for both boys was a reaction for being an outcast from their peers. Consequently becoming overweight because of this obsession with food might be the reason they continue to be ostracized by their peers.

The Big Brothers

In Stand By Me flashbacks show Denny Lachance (played by John Cusack) a quintessential big brother. Always willing to show love and genuine interest toward his younger brother, Gordie. Tragically Denny was killed in a jeep accident. How or why is not important, at least to the storyteller.

Throughout the movie Chris Chambers (played by River Phoenix) takes up the role of big brother, where Denny left off. We see his role as encourager and protector in this quote:

"It's like God gave you something, man. All those stories you can make up. And He said, this is what we got for you kid, try not to loose it. But kids loose everything unless there's someone there to look out for them."

Similarly Brand Walsh (played by Josh Brolin) plays the role of protective and sensible Goonie big brother. His character is less developed compared to Stand By Me's Chris Chambers. Brand constantly urges the Goonies to go home, rather than trying to find some mythical treasure. By contrast Chambers' character in Stand By Me is the prime instigator in the adventure, even going to the point of urging an unwilling Vern to go along in the journey.

The Smart Alecks

Somehow a comparison to Corey Feldman's characters in each film is inevitable. The Goonies' Mouth and Stand By Me's Teddy Duchamp both are outspoken. This outspokenness tends to generate problems for both characters during the course of the film. We see this in the Goonies when Mouth mouths off to the Fratelli's during the scene in the abandoned restaurant. Similarly this is seen in Stand By Me when Teddy insults the junkyard owner and Ace's gang.

The Villains

Both sets of villains, whether it is the Goonies' Fratelli's, or Ace's gang in Stand By Me, want what the kids want. Its the discovery of the Ray Brower's body or the treasure that drives this group of adults to go after the youthful main characters.

The Ending

The Goonies, being a Steven Spielberg inspired film, showed the kids' parents showing up at the end of the movie in a joyful reunion. Yet in Stand By Me, the parents are nowhere to be found at the end of the movie. The viewer even gets the impression that the Stand By Me kids would be in trouble for lying to their parents about where they were for the weekend. For at least a couple of the kids in Stand By Me, the parents are not exactly the best role models. Teddy's father abused him by holding his ear to the stove, while Chris' father was a drunk and fired guns during his drinking binges. By contrast the only abusive parent in The Goonies is Ma Fratelli who regularly slaps her sons into submission.

In fact, most of the adults in Stand By Me are shown in a negative or neutral light. Gordie's parents were shown to be negative ("Why can't you have friends like Denny?") toward Gordie. Grocery store owner was shown to be neutral in the blissful ignorance of not really knowing anything about Gordie, yet knowing all about how his older brother "sure could play football." Contrast this with scenes of happy reunions with parents at the end of The Goonies. Stand By Me might just be the anti-Goonie.

Filming Locations

If it seems like Stand By Me and The Goonies have similar wilderness scenes it's because they were both filmed in Oregon.

Theme Song

Goonies R Good Enough by Cindy Lauper portrays the movie as an upbeat kid's movie. The lyrics inspire hope...telling the listener that it's ok, because you're "good enough."

By contrast "Stand By Me" by Ben E. King tells a tale of a foreboding future with mountains falling and darkness in the land. However not all of Stand By Me's soundtrack is as foreboding as the title track. Rockin' Robin, Yakety Yak, and Lollipop are all similiar upbeat songs of the 50s.

References

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0089218/ The Goonies - Internet Movie Database

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0092005/ Stand By Me - Internet Movie Database

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