We all know and love The Goonies, a classic film about childhood wonder, pirates, and a fat kid flapping around his doughy belly. What we don’t all know is that The Goonies is actually about sex — specifically, about adolescent males on a quest for sexual discovery. This theme comes across both subtly and not-so-subtly throughout the film, and once you become aware of its prevalence, you will never be able to see this film the same again. Here are the twelve main indicators of the true meaning of The Goonies.
1) One-Eyed Willie
Let’s start with the most obvious. The boys are looking for the treasure of One-Eyed Willie. “One-Eyed Willie” is a name for a penis. The fact they are looking for his treasure indicates they seek a positive relationship with their penis, which has been conditioned to be surrounded in shame and confusion.
2) The Penis Statue
Remember that weird scene toward the beginning where Chunk knocks over Mikey’s mom’s statue, and the penis falls off? Remember how Mikey says, “That’s my mom’s most favorite piece!”? Several minutes of screentime are dedicated to the boys then trying to reattach the penis to the statue, and when they finally do, they glue it on upside down. This indicates their confusion — and shame — around their penises, a confusion and shame they can solve only by discovering One-Eyed Willie’s treasure and saving the “Goondocks,” which rhymes with “cock.”
3) Mikey’s “Malfunction”
Mikey repeatedly breathes through his inhaler. Apparently he has asthma. But as we watch, we notice that he does this in tense situations in order to feel better. This is what Freud calls “oral fixation,” and it refers to a particular stage of adolescent development in which the child finds pleasure in oral stimulation (i.e. babies with bottles and shit). Mikey is still in this phase, indicating his stunted sexual development. Andy also talks about “the parts of you that don’t work so good,” indicating Mikey suffers from erectile dysfunction. But alas, when One-Eyed Willie’s “rich stuff” is found at the end, Andy kisses Mikey’s cheek, and Mikey is about to use the inhaler before he stops, says, “Who needs it,” and tosses it aside. He has finally passed this point of development, and he no longer has erectile dysfunction.
4) The Fratelli’s Love of the Mother
Freud talked about the Oedipus complex, and how deep in the unconscious psyche, males feel a love for the mother and want to murder their father. We never hear about the Fratelli’s father, so we can assume the brothers killed him. Especially because they clearly love their mother to weird levels and still compete for her affection, even when she stabs one of them. These brothers — one of whom is Pantoliano — are also stunted in their growth, and so they too are searching for One-Eyed Willie, and their mother is helping them so she can stop having to take care of their grown asses.
5) Willie’s Ship “Trapped” by the British Armada — Repression!
Mikey gets all excited telling the story about One-Eyed Willie. He says, “My Dad told me all about him once!” Mikey is referring to the sex talk. Mikey’s repressed Dad, who collects pirate memorabilia and electricity balls (which are suggestive), was so uncomfortable telling his child about how the penis works that he used the metaphor of some crazy pirate story. In the story, One-Eyed Willie, who was a Spanish swashbuckler, got trapped inside a cave by the British armada, and he’s been there ever since. This story puts the boys’ repression in a historical context, dating back to the British.
One-Eyed Willie, the Spanish pirate representing sexual freedom, was put in a box by Brits, just like dozens of other countries when they spread their sexually repressed ways throughout the world. Mikey’s repressed Dad is still playing the blame game, rather than actually finding One-Eyed Willie himself. Poor fellow.
Also, Look at this next picture…
… and specifically where the waterfall hits the water. It appears to be falling on a giant statue of a woman holding her own breasts. Seriously. If you don’t believe us, this version of the picture is in even higher relief. Had you ever noticed that one before?
6) Data’s Gadgets and “Booty” Traps
Data and the other guys keep calling them “booty” traps, indicating bootay is on the mente. This is called a “Freudian slip” — “free association,” in psychoanalytic terms. Then there’s the fact that Data’s gadgets all have strong BDSM connotations — his “pinchers of peril” chomping Pantoliano’s balls, his “slick shoes” leading Pantoliano and his brother to flip backwards and fall on their balls, and his “sticky dart,” which shoots out of his crotch and suggests semen. Data learned these things from his father, whose camera shoots out of his beltline, like a boner, and is wild and uncontrollable — no surprise, given how poorly he taught his son about sex, leading his son to go on a crazy underground adventure to discover the truth. Shame on you, Dad. Also, the Dad tells Data, “You’re my greatest invention.” Talk about penis obsession. I’m pretty sure your wife played a bigger role in that one, you chauvinist asshole.
This character’s name is “Chunk,” which sounds a lot like “chub,” which is a term for a “half-boner.”
8) Mouth’s Commentary
First of all, his name is Mouth, which is suggestive. Then there’s the matter of his continual sexual references. First, he tells Rosalita, the new housekeeper, that Mikey’s dad keeps his “sexual torture devices” in the attic. Second, he puts his tongue through a painting in that very attic, goading Mikey to come closer with sexually suggestive noises. Finally, when Mikey indicates the statue’s penis is his Mom’s favorite piece, Mouth says, “You wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t!” Mouth gives voice to the boys’ sexual confusion.
9) Chester Copperpot
It’s a big moment when the kids find a skeleton and that skeleton’s well-preserved wallet, whose ID shows it’s famed explorer Chester Copperpot, who is now dead. A strange moment happens when we focus on Mikey, who pulls something else out of C. Copperpot’s wallet — a baseball card of Lou Gehrig. Mikey seems confused, and we, the audience, are as well. Why bring Lou Gehrig into this adventure? Well, because Lou Gehrig had a degenerative disease, and so this card is a mirror for Mikey’s own degenerative disease — erectile dysfunction. Mikey recognizes at a deep subconscious level that if he does not discover One-Eyed Willie, his wang might as well be a decaying skeleton.
10) Mikey’s “Moment” with One-Eyed Willie
When Mikey finally finds One-Eyed Willie, he is very happy. He has a very intimate conversation with Willie, until he notices a glow behind him, and he turns to find all his fellow Goonies, led by Brolin, holding candles. There’s the indication of a rite of passage moment, a threshold crossed. Mikey appears very uncomfortable, like a child who has just been caught masturbating. When Mikey asks how long they’ve been there, Brolin says, “Long enough, Mikey. Long enough.” Long enough to see Mikey have a long conversation with his own penis.
11) The “Jewels” Save the Day
The Fratellis take away all the kids’ treasure. Good thing they hid the “jewels” in the “sack of marbles.”
As we ultimately concluded in our Goonies podcast (found below), Sloth represents the boys’ penises. Why else would there be a grotesque character who terrifies the boys until they find beauty and love in his grotesquerie? They realize he’s not such a bad ugly guy after all. In fact, he can save the day! And he’ll scream “Hey you guys!” as he does it. Sloth is chained to a wall and starving, like a penis that’s repressed. He has to find the Superman strength inside himself to overcome his oppressors, which represents the kids’ newfound abilities to get boners. At the film’s end, Sloth is going to live with Chunk, providing a feel-good moment indicating Chunk has found a good relationship with his penis. No longer burdened by his chub, Chunk will no longer glue broken penises on upside down.
To listen to an in-depth analysis of these sexual motifs, as well as further justification for this interpretation, please tune into our podcast episode about The Goonies, which you can find below or by searching “goonies general snobbery” on your favorite podcasting app. If you think of sexual connections that we have failed to point out, please inform us in the Comments section below, and we will be sure to respond with our enthusiasm. If you think we’re totally wrong, please tell us why, and we will tell you why we are still right. Goodbye.