This is one of those films I'm upset at myself for not having seen as a child. It's basically the perfect kid's adventure film... but does it hold up for an adult seeing it for the first time? The basic idea is that an entire living area is being demolished to expand a country club (or something), and a group of friends stumble upon an old treasure map and start an adventure in order to get the money to save their home. You got Mikey (Sean Astin) and his older brother, Brand (Josh Brolin). Then there's Mikey's clumsy, gluttonous, fibbing friend Chunk (Jeff Cohen). There's also big talker Mouth (Corey Feldman), inventor Data (Ke Huy Quan), and Brand's friends Stef (Martha Plimpton) and Andy (Kerri Green). Unfortunately, in getting to the treasure, they run across escaped convicts, Jake (Robert Davi), Francis (Joe Pantoliano), Mama (Anne Ramsey), and the deformed Sloth (John Matuszak).
On the positive side, like I said, it really is a perfect adventure film for kids (ironically, another on the list could be Temple of Doom, which also co-stars Ke Huy Quan). It's fun, has kids doing crazy things, and it isn't dumbed down. The kids cuss, the danger is (mostly) realistic, and there's a great mystical element to it, yet still steeped in moderate reality. In other words, it's quite a blast.
On the negative side, its flaws are equally blatant. First and foremost, there is an insane amount of product placement. In the first half of the film, there's probably a Pepsi or Pepsi symbol in every single scene. Then director Richard Donner makes a connection to his earlier film, Superman (which wouldn't have been as obvious with a different director and without the previous advertisements strewn through the film). Then you have the characters that are a little too over-the-top or bothersome in one way or another. Data makes huge faces and movements to every little thing. Chunk is just kind of annoying in the "never shuts up" kind of way, though I know that's his character. Finally, Data's inventions are a bit too cartoonish and unrealistic in an otherwise more "realistic" film. They just felt out of place.
There was a lot of talent behind this film, as well. Besides an outstanding cast, the people behind the scenes are excellent. It's directed by Richard Donner, based on a story by Steven Spielberg, and written by Chris Columbus. Though at the same time, with Spielberg and Columbus' involvement, it shouldn't have been surprising how cheesy and sappy the ending was. And... it really was.
But that's not to say I didn't enjoy the film. Quite the opposite, really. My negative feelings didn't detract from the whole thing. I know I've talked a lot of negative in this review, but I did really, really like the movie. Like I said at the beginning, this is a movie I'm sad I didn't become acquainted with as a kid. As a kid, I would have eaten this up and then the nostalgic factor today would let me see past all the issues (at least for the most part). But I didn't, so it's only just really good to me instead of really great.