Why We Love The Goonies
Although it premiered over 30 years ago, people still talk about The Goonies. It’s a total classic that’s pretty much fun for all ages. Ask any child of the late-80’s or early-90’s if s/he’s seen The Goonies, and you’ll almost certainly get an emphatic Yes!
It’s a great flick that had this “feel-good” vibe to it that made it almost one of a kind. Luckily, though, it isn’t so one of a kind that there aren’t other movies and television shows out there that’ll help fill the void if you’re missing it.
What exactly makes a movie or show similar to The Goonies? Actually, there are a few things, but we’ll just hit the high points:
- Adventure/comedy movie starring a group of kids and/or teens
- Intragroup dynamics that see non-popular kids banding together against the world but still being able to pick on each other
- The cluelessness of parents or lack of parental involvement/control
- A weaker, even powerless, good versus an overwhelming, overpowered evil
- Coming of age/growing up
- Including a quest or hunt for something special
- A little hint (or more) of magic, fantasy or the supernatural
- The hero’s journey
Now, let’s get into the list!
*Note: All titles are arranged from those most like The Goonies at the top to those least like The Goonies at the bottom, except for the section of R-rated movies, which were placed together to keep them separate from the “kid- and teen-friendly” movies.
25 Things to Watch if You Love The Goonies
Stranger Things (2016-present)
If you haven’t watched Stranger Things yet, you definitely should. There’s a reason it was the most-talked-about show on Netflix last year; it’s excellent. It’s also so reminiscent of The Goonies, you’ll feel like you’re reliving your childhood again while watching it. It’s also a great one to watch with your teens.
It’s set in the 1980’s and features a group of nerdy, neighborhood kids who get way in over their heads while dealing with a corrupt organization and a threat that’s not entirely of this world. It has a more magical/supernatural/borderline-horror element to it than The Goonies, but despite that, the show has so much in common with the 80’s cult classic.
The group of kids on a heroes’ quest to take down a much more powerful enemy, the extreme lack of parental involvement and even the themes of intragroup dynamics and “us against the world” are all very Goonies-like.
The Duffer Brothers, creators of Stranger Things have said in multiple interviews that they were heavily influenced by their love of The Goonies and other popular 80’s movies, and they even brought in Sean Astin – Mikey from The Goonies – to play a significant role in season two.
He even has a great line about a treasure map that was a bit of a nod to the show’s resemblance to the film. I don’t want to give any plot points away because Stranger Things is definitely better if you go into it blind, but trust me. If you love The Goonies, you’ll go nuts for this Netflix show.
The Monster Squad (1987)
First and foremost, I’ll preface this by saying The Monster Squad pushes the limits of its PG-13 rating pretty hard. There’s a lot of violence and gore, some pretty salty language and even a few sexual references and innuendos. For teens, it’s mostly okay, but you may want to pre-watch it just in case you might find the material too objectionable.
If you’re okay with the possibly objectionable material, this is another great option that’s so much like The Goonies, you’ll think they were written by the same person. The Monster Squad is pretty much The Goonies with monsters.
There’s a similar group of young boys on their own heroes’ quests; the 80’s setting is the same, and there’s even that general feeling of “feel-good nostalgia” in both movies. In fact, some people even claim The Monster Squad is better than The Goonies and that it paints an even more realistic picture of a typical 80’s suburban childhood.
This is one of the few movies on this list that I actually don’t really love, but kids, my son included, seem to love it, and it does tend to put people in mind of The Goonies.
Mostly this has to do with the misfit group of kids at the detention camp and how their attitudes and attributes reflect members of the Goonies squad.
In its own way, it’s also a coming-of-age story that features the main character, played by Shia LeBeouf, on a bit of a hero’s quest type of journey to expose the corrupt leaders of the camp. It’s decent, and it’s at least Goonies adjacent. Give it a shot, especially if you’re looking for something to watch with your kids.
Super 8 (2011)
If you’re looking for a relatively new movie to give you that same Goonies feeling, check out Super 8. Personally, I’m torn on this movie because I wasn’t a huge fan of it, and I know many others felt the same way, but despite that, it does have some Goonies attributes, with one reviewer from a college newspaper calling it “a slightly out-of-focus ‘Goonies’ wannabe.“
I think the similarities in this movie mostly lie with the group of main characters. They’ll definitely put you in mind of the Goonies squad, but even they feel a little flat to me. As I said, I’m torn on this one.
The similarities are there, but there just isn’t enough cohesion for me to love it like I love The Goonies, but give it a watch yourself. See how you feel about it.
The Goonies is the result of one of the rare times that the people in charge were able to seamlessly blend adventure, comedy and family-friendly fun into one great package.
Jumanji is another. That, more than anything else, is why these two movies can be linked together, despite having rather different plots. The mischievous, rambunctious kids in the leading roles of both movies also have a lot in common.
Jumanji isn’t exactly the coming-of-age movie that The Goonies is, but even so, if you like one, you’re almost certainly going to like the other.
The Karate Kid (1984)
Although there’s no group of kids on an adventure-filled quest, The Karate Kid is another one of those classic 80’s movies that gives you all the feels and double the nostalgia. There’s a lot about the main character that’ll remind you of the Goonies squad.
Daniel is the new kid in town. He’s being mercilessly bullied by the members of a fairly skilled karate class, so he enlists the help of Mr. Miyagi to learn to defend himself.
The whole movie is one long journey for Daniel, not to find hidden pirate treasure, but to find himself and the hidden depths and strength that lie inside him.
The typical 80’s setting and the overly emotional 80’s soundtrack will also go a long way towards putting you in the right frame of mind for enjoying yet another 80’s classic.
E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982)
Does E.T. even really need a description? This movie is probably the ultimate giver of nostalgia when it comes to classic 80’s films.
It was produced and directed by Steven Spielberg, who was also the executive producer of The Goonies, so the overall feel, setting and tone of the movies are understandably similar.
There are no pirates, treasure maps or adventurous quests through underground tunnels in E.T., but the story of a young boy befriending and eventually coming to love an alien who was accidentally abandoned on Earth will still give you the same heartwarming, tingle in the chest sensation you get when you watch The Goonies.
Plus, it’s just a fantastic movie for people of all ages.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer T.V. Series (1997-2003)
The BtVS series has a totally different feel than the original movie of the same name. Whereas the movie was cheesy and quirky, the show is more serious and features much more advanced story lines.
In terms of overall feel, the movie definitely reminds me more of The Goonies than the show because The Goonies also had that slightly cheesy, campy feel.
However, in terms of everything else – the close-knit group of misfit friends taking on the world, the good versus evil aspect, Buffy’s journey to find herself and come into her own with her power – the show is much more like The Goonies. The BtVS show is also far superior to the movie in every way.
The ‘Burbs (1989)
If you’re looking for something to fill the Goonies-shaped hole in your heart and haven’t yet watched The ‘Burbs, run to the nearest streaming platform and watch it.
Basically, The ‘Burbs is The Goonies, only starring adults instead of kids. If you take out the hidden pirate treasure, the two movies are practically the same.
They both feature a group of suburban people going on a quest to investigate something going on in a neighbor’s home. They both have the same ridiculous humor, and they’ll both give you that nostalgic, 80’s, feel-good vibe.
Cheesy 80’s graphics and plot mixed with not-quite-believable makeup and special effects, a weird mix of horror/comedy and an adorable Corey Feldman making a very large boo-boo: Gremlins has all the trademarks of a Goonies-like film.
The two stories aren’t that much alike in plot, but the overall feel and tone of the movies are very similar. There’s even a nod to Gremlins in The Goonies when the sheriff tells Chunk about a time he had to deal with “little creatures that multiply when you pour water on them.”
Now and Then (1995)
When people talk about movies that are “like The Goonies,” they often leave Now and Then off the list. That’s absolutely crazy! These movies are so much alike.
I think the main disconnect for most people is that the group in Now and Then is solely made up of girls, but that means very little in the grand scheme of things. Each girl is “off” in some way, just like the Goonies squad.
Roberta is an overly masculine tomboy; Teeny is a sex-crazed virgin; Samantha is a weird, withdrawn, writer type, and Chrissy is much too girly, innocent and naive.
The two movies are alike in other ways as well. In addition to almost no parents appearing anywhere in either movie, there are also important quests that take place in each.
In Now and Then the girls seek to find out the identity of what they believe is a ghost they conjured known as “Dear Johnny.” It isn’t hidden pirate treasure, but it’s an incredibly similar plot point to The Goonies.
The two stories also share the same overt coming-of-age theme and have killer soundtracks.
Locke & Key (2020-present)
In the shadow of Netflix’s big hits like Stranger Things, Orange is the New Black and The Witcher, Locke & Key often gets overlooked, and that’s a shame because it’s an excellent show, complete with many Goonies-like elements.
The entire series is one large puzzle/treasure hunt, undertaken by a group of siblings and a few of their trusted friends.
The kids aren’t looking for pirate treasure, but they are looking for something precious – the discovery of the mysteries of Key House and the true story of their recently deceased father’s childhood.
There’s a lot more dependence on the supernatural in this show than in The Goonies, and the tone is a little darker, but overall, the two are quite similar and bound to appeal to the same types of people.
The Sandlot (1993)
Okay, so here’s the deal. If you absolutely love The Goonies, then you’ll love The Sandlot. There’s no real explanation or reason needed. It’s practically a scientific fact. These two movies appeal to exactly the same audience, so much so that it’s almost uncanny.
They both feature excellent casts of talented child actors that make both movies insanely good, and they both have that group solidarity/”us against the world” mentality that makes them so memorable and lovable. It doesn’t matter that the plots aren’t all that similar; if you love one, you’ll love the other.
The Princess Bride (1987)
What can I say about this movie other than it’s flipping amazing?! The comedy in it is cheesy but hilarious. It takes a special kind of person to appreciate it, much like the humor in The Goonies.
Cary Elwes, Robin Wright, Mandy Patinkin, Billy Crystal and all the other performers in this film did an amazing job of delivering on this odd, lovable film, and they turned what could have been a disaster into one of the most popular cult classics of all time.
There are multiple heroes, quests galore, a band of friends coming together to face the world and even some pirates! This movie just keeps on delivering, and it never gets old. You could watch it a million times and still love it, much like you could The Goonies.
Put simply, this movie is a retelling of the classic Peter Pan story, although the writers took some liberties with the source material.
Still, there’s the group of Lost Boys, who are very Goonies-ish in their own way, and there’s a man on a quest to find his lost children, which are even more precious to him than pirate’s treasure.
Best of all, there are pirates! Dustin Hoffman makes an excellent Captain Hook, and the rest of the cast is great too.
3 Ninjas (1992)
If I’m going to be honest, this movie is awful. It’s corny, cheesy, completely unrealistic and features annoying songs that get stuck in your head no matter how much you want to forget them. (Rocky loves Emily! Rocky loves Emily!) And despite the fact that it’s horrible, I loved it as a child, and I still halfway love it today simply for nostalgia’s sake.
It came out a few years after The Goonies, but it was shot in a similar style and featured a lot of the same themes, elements and types of music that made The Goonies so popular.
There’s also a silly, kind of halfway-embarrassed feeling I get when I watch it that always reminds me of watching The Goonies. If you never watched it as a child, you probably shouldn’t watch it now. You’ll have no nostalgia for it, and it just won’t hit you like it hits me.
However, if you do remember watching and loving it, give it another watch as an adult. You’ll get those same Goonies feelings rolling over you. It’s also a great one to show your kids, even if you decide not to watch it with them.
Back to the Future (1985)
This is another movie that doesn’t share much in the way of plot with The Goonies, but it’s still often lumped in with it due largely to the fact that it’s a total 80’s classic that gives watchers the very best kind of nostalgia.
There’s no one particular thing about it that makes you say, “Hey! That’s just like in The Goonies!” Instead, it’s more about the overall filming style and tone of the movie. If you don’t believe me, just do a search for the names of both films. You’ll find the two of them share spots on dozens of “Best of…” lists all across the internet.
The Harry Potter Movies (2001-2011)
I may be stretching it just a tiny bit with this entry, but I don’t really think so. Despite being a little darker overall and having a much more complex story, the Harry Potter flicks, particularly the first two, really do share a lot in common with The Goonies.
In addition to being entirely about a group of young kids on a quest to save the world from evil, the HP flicks also give you that warm, lighthearted, all-around good feeling when you’re watching them, just like The Goonies does.
There’s this sense that all of these movies represent a better time and place for humanity than where we’re living now. There’s love and abiding friendship, and there’s never a point in any of the films where you actually think the main groups of characters are going to fail.
In other words, I think both Goonies and HP instill a delightful and much-needed sense of hope inside you.
- Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (2001)
- Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (2002)
- Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004)
- Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (2005)
- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (2007)
- Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (2009)
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 (2010)
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 (2011)
This is another entry that may have people shaking their heads and saying I’m reaching, but hear me out one last time. I know most people probably wouldn’t compare this popular musical TV show with a cult classic like The Goonies, but I see a lot of the Goonies squad in the McKinley High Glee Club members.
There’s a little bit of Mikey in Glee‘s football star Finn, and Puck is so much like Mouth that I can honestly picture a young Corey Feldman playing flashbacks of an adolescent Puck.
There are definitely some parallels that can be drawn between Artie Abrams in Glee and the super smart Richard “Data” Wang of the Goonies squad, and there’s even a big brother Brandon type of figure in the form of Mr. Schuester, who holds the whole Glee Club together and keeps them going when things get tough.
Finally, there’s Chunk, and though Sue Sylvester is neither overweight nor male, she, like Chunk, provides much-needed comic relief for some of the heavier scenes in the show, and her “Let’s Get Physical” dance is almost as amusing as Chunk’s “Truffle Shuffle.”
In short, the Glee Club is made of misfits that don’t really belong anywhere else, and the whole series is about them finding themselves and coming into their own both as singers and as young adults. If you’ve never watched it, just check out the first few episodes. I think you’ll see the similarities.
R-Rated Movies Similar to The Goonies: May Not Be Suitable for Children
Stand By Me (1986)
I’ll be honest; I was legitimately shocked to see that the rating on this movie was R, although I probably shouldn’t have been since I know it’s based on a Stephen King novella. Still, I remember this as a warmhearted, wonderful film about the beauty and pain of growing up and the seemingly unbreakable bonds of friendship.
Despite the dead body in the movie, I didn’t remember anything that deserved an R-rating. It turns out there is some stuff in there that merits it though.
Even so, it’s a great flick, and it’s one I shared with my son when he was probably 13, and we were both able to enjoy it. Whether it’s the themes of abiding childhood friendship and coming of age, the epic quest the friends go on to find the body or the bullies they meet and defeat along the way, it’s also very Goonies-like.
The Lost Boys (1987)
I have a slight tendency to find any movie that stars Corey Feldman to be a lot like the Goonies, and I think there’s a legitimate reason for that. Corey Feldman starred in a ton of late-80’s movies, and all of them had similar tones and felt a lot alike.
Additionally, with few exceptions, most of them featured him and at least one other young person – usually a group of young people – being a little silly and going on some type of quest or “save the world” mission.
This great flick about a group of vampires living in California features Feldman in the role of one-half of a vampire killing, child duo, and it’s absolutely fantastic. It also has a huge cult following and a killer 80’s soundtrack, so if you haven’t seen it, you should definitely check it out.
If you’re thinking I’m way off the mark with this entry, I understand, but hear me out first…
Despite the fact that It is firmly situated in the horror genre as opposed to the lighthearted adventure/comedy genre The Goonies represents, the two movies still have a lot in common, and it isn’t just because they both feature groups of largely outcast children, although that does play a big part.
Just about everything that makes The Goonies great can also be found in the first It movie.
The “us versus the world” dynamic in the group, the largely absent parents, the good versus evil theme and the elements of the supernatural are all present in the film.
Additionally, the group of kids, collectively known as “The Losers Club,” are very much like the kids that make up the Goonies squad. They’re bullied and mistreated, and that’s before they get targeted by an evil demon clown!
Despite the blood, gore and scariness of It, it’s also a coming-of-age story that sets the group of kids on a heroes’ quest to defeat Pennywise. It’s hard not to see the similarities in all that.
Turbo Kid (2015)
First and foremost, this film isn’t actually rated R. In fact, it’s a non-rated film, but it has enough blood, gore, violence and bad language in it to stick it firmly in the “not for kids” category for me. Even so, it’s a good film for Goonies fans.
It’s a relatively new movie, but it’s set in an alternate, dystopian 90’s that feels a lot like the 80’s setting of Goonies.
It’s actually a rather odd movie, and a lot of people didn’t care for it, but I enjoyed it, and it reminded me a lot of The Goonies. I can’t even really put my finger on why, but give it a watch. I think you’ll feel it too.
The Breakfast Club (1985)
This was another flick I was frankly shocked to find out had an R-rating. There’s some bad language, some mild drug use and some slightly racy content, but honestly, I think the R-rating might be a little harsh for this one. It’s the ultimate coming-of-age flick, and of all the popular John Hughes films, it’s probably the biggest fan favorite.
It features a great group of misfit kids – a nerd, a criminal, a “princess” type, an athlete and a basket case – stuck together in Saturday detention. There’s no adventurous quest or hero story line, but the kids all take the day to find themselves, and that’s an epic journey all on its own.
Dazed and Confused (1993)
This movie certainly isn’t for kids – although teens through the decades have loved and appreciated it – but I had to include it on the list because every person I’ve ever known who loves The Goonies also loves Dazed and Confused, myself included
The plots of the two movies couldn’t be further apart, but the way the movies make you feel is quite similar. Both movies will have you reminiscing for your childhood and teenage years.
Plus, at its core, The Goonies is about a group of kids who want to stay together as long as possible and have as much fun together while they can. That’s the exact same message in Dazed and Confused.
There’s no super intricate plot; there are no twists or shocking OMG moments. It’s just a movie about a bunch of teenagers who want to enjoy their last few years together as carefree friends whose only goals in life are to have fun.
Or You Could Always Just Rewatch The Goonies
There’s never a bad time to watch The Goonies, and if you have children who are old enough to appreciate it, you have an even better excuse to pop it in the blu-ray player or pull it up online. The show is a classic, and every classic needs to be rewatched every now and then. There’s no shame in watching such a great movie one more time, even if it is your 201st “one more time.”