Why is it So Hard to Make Another Movie Like the Goonies?

I’ve got a backlog of television so I’ve been watching the last four episodes of The Goldbergs and it always makes me nostalgic for the movies, television and music of the 80’s.  The 1980’s were a golden age for adventure, fantasy, and science fiction films.  Back then, they still made family-friendly films that weren’t animated.  It seems that Hollywood green-lights every project based on a previous formula for success and nothing else.

Is it that films are getting too expensive to make, so Hollywood is afraid to take a risk on an unproven new formula or a screenplay that isn’t based on a popular young adult book?  I don’t have a problem with basing a movie on a book or a young adult book, but even they go through nauseatingly-similar phases.

  • Since the 2000’s, first it was Harry Potter and all the copy cats.
  • Then it was Twilight and all of the other vampire or paranormal love story movies
  • Now it’s Hunger Games and the other futuristic dystopian movies.

In the few instances when modern day family-friendly films aren’t cartoons, the remainder seem to be based on fairy tales.  How many of those have we seen in the last few years? The same trends are true for all the other genres: all action movies are super hero movies (and I love super hero movies, but I also love movies like The Expendables).  Every comedy seems to feature Seth Rogen, James Franco, Paul Rudd or Jason Segal and it’s written by Judd Apatow. I feel bad for kids and teenagers today. There are very few new movies available for them to get excited about.  When Hollywood runs out of movies to make based on the hottest trends, they just do a reboot. I am so sick of reboots and so is almost everyone else.

There’s no modern day equivalent of John Hughes.  Teenagers today don’t have a Molly Ringwald or Matthew Broderick to look up to.  All of the teen idols seem to be from reality TV now or from shows on the CW.  I don’t know why this bothers me so much; it just seems like a missed opportunity for Hollywood and I feel like kids are missing out on a rite of passage. The touching romantic comedy stories that reflected important truths from our teen years aren’t being told anymore.

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I saw The DUFF last weekend, and that was the closest thing I’ve seen to a John Hughes film since Easy A. It isn’t getting the reviews it deserves because it’s a comedy and it’s filled with comforting tropes. Don’t listen to the negative reviews though; if you want to see a fun, romantic comedy, you will like it. It’s not groundbreaking, but it’s funny, touching, relatable and succeeds at bringing the 80’s teen comedy to the world we live in today.  I just read an article that said The DUFF is the film John Hughes would make about teens today. They point out that the movie isn’t up to Hughes’ level but it’s as close as we’ve been for a long time.  It’s probably the most accurate review I’ve heard of the movie so far.


If The DUFF can be this successful with an unrecognizable cast and relatively inexperienced writer and director, surely we can do the same thing for the adventure genre.  One of the most depressing developments in film over the last 30 years is the lack of adventure films. Everyone loves a good adventure film. I think it says something about modern society–we have evolved into a domesticated, risk-averse culture.  Or, maybe that’s just what Hollywood thinks we are. They certainly aren’t connected or tuned in to what average people want.

Maybe part of the reason we don’t have new adventure movies like The Goonies and Indiana Jones is because we have lost that drive for risk-taking and exploration. I don’t think that’s the case though. You can tell from the response to a game like Uncharted that people still love the adventure genre. They’re still fascinated with treasure hunting, danger and intrigue.  They still want unique new stories.

Seriously, who doesn't like this movie?
Seriously, who doesn’t like this movie?

Furthermore, teenagers today still love John Hughes movies and other original screenplays like Back to the Future and Gremlins. Hollywood, please start taking risks again and green-light a project that isn’t the fiftieth “new and original spin” on Snow White or Sleeping Beauty. Tell us a new story that we can get excited about.