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The Goonies
  • Composed by Dave Grusin
  • Varese Sarabande CD Club / VCL 0310 1104 / 2010 / 79:08

People of a certain age (my age) were blessed with a dizzying array of great family-fun films during the 1980s which for many of us formed a great part of our childhood.  Mysteriously, many of these films (the exception being ET) received unsatisfactory soundtrack releases featuring little, if any, score and only now are proper soundtrack albums beginning to appear.  Shortly after Intrada released Back to the Future, Varese Sarabande came up with The Goonies.  Now if only someone could do justice to Gremlins, the set would be pretty much complete!  Anyway, the selection of composer for The Goonies was very surprising, Dave Grusin never having scored anything remotely like this before (or indeed since).  Director Richard Donner has made a few eclectic choices over the years and maybe this is one of those; or maybe the composer was hired at producer Steven Spielberg’s suggestion.  Who knows?  Anyway, the resulting music was a holy grail for many film music fans before this album was released (25 years after the film).

The score is a very odd mixture of swashbuckling action music written in the Golden Age style, actually quoting Max Steiner at one stage, low-key synth noodling and Carl Stalling-like musical ADHD.  Ideas tend not to stick around for particularly long, the score making 90-degree turns every few seconds – which is not an approach which works at all well on an 80-minute album.  While there are themes here and they are repeated, none leaves a particularly lasting impression on this listener – meaning it comes across as a score with the pitfalls of Back to the Future (ie the extreme level of Mickey Mousing) without the flipside benefit (the great theme).  Given the level of demand for the score in the many years before it finally got released, it doesn’t take a genius to work out that my view is not one which is commonly-held; but aside from the very good pastiche in the famous “Fratelli Chase” cue and one or two of the other action pieces, I found little here to enjoy and am very pleased that Grusin stuck to projects for which his talents were far better-suited afterwards.  **

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  1. Juan Carlos (Reply) on Thursday 22 July, 2010 at 15:55

    Once again, I couldn’t agree more James. This score (along with Silvestri’s “Back to the Future”) becomes so vastly overrated because of the fan hype of people who extremely loved this movie as a child (I guess they haven’t seen it again since 1985).

    Here is hoping someone release the jewel of this era, Goldsmith’s “Gremlins”.