When I was younger, the movie ‘The Goonies’ was my favourite thing in the whole wide world. It still is, a lot of the time. It’s the perfect adventure, just pure joy and heart and feeling. It’s a story about a group of kids who end up on a journey that, even at its most ridiculous, feels plausible. Its greatest achievement are its child characters, who swear and laugh and make fun of each other never missing a beat. They’re real, so much more so than most of the kids we see on movie screens. It’s thanks to them that the whole stupid adventure feels so consistently real, so tangible. And that’s the thing; when I was younger, and I was watching the Goonies for the fifth time with my dad, the whole thing felt tangible. It felt like in a week or two that could be me, hopping on my bike and finding something incredible. It let me hold onto the magic of believing in the impossible even once that magic had started to fade.
The trouble is, I wasn’t like them, The Goonies. I wasn’t loud and brave and fearless. I was anxious and weird a lot of the time, and even though I wanted an adventure like theirs more than anything else, it just wasn’t going to happen. I was too scared to break the rules, and my friends and I just weren’t going to put ourselves in that kind of situation. As much as I love The Goonies, for the longest time it filled me with a strange sort of longing. I wanted their adventure, but I couldn’t have it. It was like watching a dream, or remembering one and wanting so much to go back to sleep.
I’m old now. I can’t watch The Goonies and dream of my own adventure, because I’m just not a kid anymore. It hurts to look back at little baby me and realise that he didn’t ever get to do what he really wanted to. It hurts to remember how much I loved this film, but to see how far away I was from living it. It hurts, which isn’t a feeling I want to have when I watch one of my all-time favourite movies.
I’ve written about Medicine Tv Shows and Movies before (inconspicuous back-link subtly placed riiiiight here) , and The Goonies, recently, has become one of that important pantheon of stories I can use to make myself a little more okay when things get bad. It’s still a brilliant, transforming journey for me, even despite the regret it brings out. But importantly, I have a new perspective on it now, and it’s thanks to another film, one that in a few years might be sitting alongside The Goonies as one of those digital pieces of self-medication.
Peter Foott’s ‘The Young Offenders’ is an Irish film about two teenagers who end up on an adventure that seems incredibly real even at its most ridiculous. It’s a film about searching for treasure, just like The Goonies, except in this instance the treasure is a huge bag of cocaine. It’s a film that makes me laugh, and has heart, and makes me really feel for everyone involved.
There’s a subplot about one the main characters mum’s throughout The Young Offenders. She’s rude and snarky and a lot of the time says things that are really nasty to her son, and it’s funny. But she’s a character that’s so brilliantly played by Hilary Rose because you can see the love in her. It’s a character who you can tell isn’t exactly pleased to be a mother, and has a hard time keeping things liveable, but you never doubt for a second that she cares about her kid. Just like in The Goonies, the film is about the kids, pointedly so, but the adults aren’t villains and don’t get in the way. There’s an empathy in both films towards the parents troubles, and an understanding that a lot of the time the adults have it a hell of a lot worse. But both films acknowledge this, then shift their attention right back to its younger characters. As Mikey says in The Goonies, “our parents, they want the best of stuff for us. But right now they gotta do what’s right for them. Because it’s their time, their time up there. Down here it’s our time, it’s our time down here.” It doesn’t matter that the adults have it rougher than their children, because they are dealing with it themselves, and the kids in The Goonies, the main teenager in The Young Offenders, they’re stuff isn’t any less important.
The Young Offenders doesn’t really feel anything like The Goonies as you’re watching it, but the similarities are there. So I think that’s why the Young Offenders reached me as powerfully as it did. It tapped into that longing for adventure I have that’s been left unfulfilled from childhood. It taps into that regret I feel over what I didn’t do. But then, quiet enough so that I almost didn’t notice, it made me realise it’s not over, yet. Times not up.
I made an assumption, when I was younger, that the feeling of adventure throughout The Goonies is only there because its kids that are being thrust into this situation. I decided that once I hit secondary school, it was too late, I had missed my chance to go out and do something stupid with all my friends. Now I’m out of secondary school, and I feel like I missed the boat again. I didn’t go to parties or get tangled up in the sticky web of hormonal relationships. I wanted to, a lot of the time, but I was never brave enough to take the first step. But watching the Young Offenders, I began remember the day long cycle rides I sometimes take with my friends. I remember the huge walks we decide to embark on unprepared, just picking a direction and going, far as we can be bothered. I remember a tiny little book shop in the Netherlands, filled to bursting with old, crumbling novels that have been read and re-read for years and years and years. These things aren’t anything close to hunting down a huge bag of cocaine that’s been washed onto shore, but they’re just as magical, in their own little ways.
The Goonies made me think I was too old to have an adventure. The Young Offenders made me realise that just wasn’t true. I’m in a much better place to make my life exciting, now. I’ve shaken off a lot of the fear that held me back before. There’s a whole ginormous world out there just waiting for me to explore it. I think that one day, eventually, I might just take that first, terrifying step. If haven’t already.