When I was a kid, I wanted movies to instantly make me feel good, like soda pop. The Goonies was one of the movies I saw on TV all the time while flipping channels, and at the time, it seemed boring and annoying to me, simply because I was tired of seeing it around. I remember in particular that the kids in it all talking at the same time gave me anxiety. Because of this, every time I stumbled upon it, I’d change the channel after a scene or two—eventually seeing almost every scene at one point or another, enough to understand the gist of the story—but it wasn’t until I was old enough to pull my head out of my ass that I realized—by actually watching it from beginning to end—that classics like The Goonies are on TV so often because they’re transcendent.
I now also understand that the very aspect that made me feel too frustrated to take The Goonies seriously was supposed to make me feel that way, by design. As an extreme introvert, the constant yapping made me feel uncomfortable, whereas extroverts may have felt invigorated. The realism of this is beautiful. It puts us in the story by replicating very real feelings of nervousness and exuberance. It’s okay that I feel anxious watching the overlapping dialogue—enjoying a movie doesn’t have to mean it makes you feel good.
We graduate from soda pop to cocktails.
There’s an alcohol and herb based ingredient that used to be sold as medicine but is now in many cocktails, known as bitters, named so because it tastes bitter, and used as such because even though it’s bitter, it’s a desirable taste. For me, the yelling and interrupting in The Goonies are the bitters in the cocktail that is the suspension of my disbelief. Classics are able to transcend their genre by intentionally mixing numerous aspects like this one to create an overall flavor and mental state that can only be experienced by watching the film—and watching it in its entirety, not just random chunks.
What we think we taste when we’re watching The Goonies is the blatant stuff (the juice, in the cocktail): the adventure, the setting, the comedy, the camaraderie, etc.—‘what happens’, basically. But much like how many cocktails may have been created during Prohibition to disguise the alcohol being drank, the story of the movie is a covert delivery system for the vibe created by the unspoken aspects—the ‘how it happens’, the liquor. The bitters of frantic, overlapping dialogue is necessary to The Goonies being The Goonies, but enough about that—there’s a liquor in this Goonies cocktail with even higher alcohol content.
I want to talk, in all of its flavor and complexity, about the genius visual motif of Andy’s panties.
First though, we need to acknowledge that, as the main character, Mikey represents the audience—his Spielberg face is ours. And just as he wants so badly for the adventure to progress, like any youngin’, he also secretly likes the idea of girls. This makes the ‘accidental’ upskirts a perfect visual representation of his desires. Not only that, but each one shows just a little bit more—so that as the kids are in increasingly deeper shit, and the adventure gets more heart-pounding, so do the panty shots. Behaviorism at its finest.
The first upskirt is subtle yet deliberate: Troy pointing the car mirror at Andy’s loins. It hints at the upskirts to come, but makes a point of not being spoken of: “He kept trying to use the mirror to look down my shirt, so I elbowed his lip.”
When Mikey gives his famous “It’s our time down here” speech in the well, he’s making it evident to everyone what he wants to happen in the story—he will settle for nothing less than adventure, and actualization, for every last one of them. The whole time he’s giving this speech, Andy is standing above him in the bucket, and he is looking towards her skirt, but we can’t see up it yet—her underwear underneath representing these seemingly unattainable goals hanging in the balance.
Right after they enter that skull-shaped doorway underground—just after Andy accidentally kisses Mikey, thinking he’s Brand—things really start to cross over from stuff that’s plausible in reality to stuff that happens in ‘movies like this’—the stuff of Mikey’s dreams, the stuff of our dreams. The kiss made us start to realize it was possible, and the subsequent upskirt seals the deal. We see white panties from behind. The kids don’t seem to notice, but we do, and that’s enough.
The first time I watched the movie as an adult, Andy’s panties were the most fascinating aspect of the movie for me, and I thought about them a lot afterwards. That’s pretty impressive, considering I’m not attracted to women. When it comes to this movie though, I kind of am, because the panties don’t represent panties—they represent adventure. All of the characters have this visible dichotomy going on of who they know they are vs. who the other characters see them as. They all have insecurities that are pushed to their edge by the adventure until, by the end of the film, they have all become who they really are, and the other characters see it, and admire its splendor—much like how, after many teasing slight upskirts, at the very climax of the film, her skirt is literally turned inside out during the famous shot where she jumps off the ship. In this moment, if our emotions weren’t already at their height, the panties won’t let them not be.
The beauty of Andy’s panties (which are arguably a character themselves, separate from Andy, much like The Smoking Man’s cigarette in The X-Files) is that in a movie chockfull of speaking, they are unspoken. And even though they aren’t the only aspect that subtly makes you care about the film as you are watching it, they have a subliminal effect that is hypnotic and powerful—so powerful that they were able to be used to hold the plot together. On the surface, they may seem to some like just another example of Hollywood ‘male gaze’, but really, they are a storytelling masterstroke worthy of careful study.