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The Ending Of The Goonies Explained

If you were born in America after 1985, you can't really consider yourself a true adult unless you saw The Goonies. The classic coming-of-age comedy not only debuted that year, but it also churned out some of Hollywood's brightest stars of the '80s and beyond. The story was by Stephen Spielberg, the script was by Chris Columbus, and it was directed by Richard Donner.

"The Goonies" are four best friends from Astoria, Oregon, who have to save their town from foreclosure and being turned into a country club. To do it, they must locate the treasure of the famed One-Eyed Willy, a legendary pirate. The pirate treasure stuff is fun, but the real heart of the film is in the characters themselves and their friendship. For those of us who grew up with a crew like the Goonies, this movie is guaranteed nostalgia. And for those of us who didn't, The Goonies definitely makes us wish we had. 

Or at least that's the version of the movie we all remember. Looking back on The Goonies, the film has a deeper message about who our friends really are.

Finding a chest of gold coins can solve a lot of life's problems

Being that The Goonies is a kids' movie based on a story by Stephen Spielberg, who also served as executive producer, the ending isn't going to have a lot of ambiguity that needs sorting. Yes, the boys elude the Fratellis and find One-Eyed Willy's treasure. Yes, it saves their town from being turned into a country club. (One loose end? What about the poor land developer whose country club project had to be scrapped? Did they keep their job?)

There's also a tidy moral about greed. The greed of the country club developer is the original reason for the boys' adventure. When they locate One-Eyed Willy's treasure, Mikey (Sean Astin) insists that they only take what they need and leave the treasure sitting on a scale as a sign of respect for the dead pirate. When the Fratelli's show up, they have no scruples about honor and take all of it, which triggers a booby trap that nearly kills everyone. So, greed: bad.

Some of the boys get character arcs. Mikey's older brother Brand (Josh Brolin) starts off the film as a bully, but seeing Mikey's heroics on their adventure gives him a new respect for his little bro. Meanwhile, being that this is a coming-of-age movie, Mouth (Corey Feldman) learns a little self-reliance... in the form of giving up his asthma inhaler, which the movie treats as if it's a crutch. Maybe don't take that specific lesson to heart.

But all of that is secondary to the real heart of the story: Chunk (Jeff Cohen) and Sloth (John Matuszak).

The real villain in The Goonies? Toxic friendship

There are four core Goonies when the movie starts: Mikey, Mouth, Chunk, and Data (Key Huy Quan). But the only true friendship is between Mikey and Mouth. Chunk is mostly a comic relief character, and often just the butt of an endless series of fat jokes from Mikey and Mouth. They even sometimes goad him into doing a "hilarious" dance called the Truffle Shuffle. Maybe it was funny in 1985, but today we'd call that demeaning. And even back then, Chunk clearly didn't delight in it.

Even more telling, when the Fratellis capture Chunk, it's not difficult for the other Goonies to decide to leave him behind and continue their mission. Apparently, "Goonies never say die" doesn't apply to everyone.

But just when Chunk is at his lowest point, that's when he meets Sloth, the Fratelli's hulking, deformed, childlike son. Sloth is kind of like the "Chunk" of the Fratellis: the most different and the least tolerated —they routinely lock him in a freezer! It's not much of a surprise that Chunk overcomes his initial fear of Sloth, and they become fast friends. Sloth only knows a few words, but he shows Chunk more genuine loyalty and affection than the other Goonies ever do. And he and Chunk only just met!

Chunk and the Goonies come back together in the end, but not before Chunk learns an important lesson: yes, best friends can sometimes be the people we happened to grow up with. But our true friends are the ones who treat us with respect.

As for Data, he doesn't even get a character arc. He's just there to provide ingenious inventions that get the boys out of jams. Here's hoping he got accepted into MIT and left the others behind.