I have never seen The Goonies.
The closest Ive ever come was watching the obligatory music video used to promote the film on MTV back in the day. But then again, as I recall, that was primarily due to my genuine interest in Captain Lou Albano, the pro wrestler who made a brief cameo appearance in the clip along with his erstwhile publicist, singer Cyndi Lauper.
As a 35-year-old for whom ludicrous films are something of a minor passion, this anomalous omission of my youth has been known to send peers into fits of disbelief that border on apoplexy.
I have always known that this mainstream kiddie-oriented adventure-fantasy from 1985 held a very special place in the hearts and minds of many, but upon learning that one of the films main protagonists would be making a live appearance in Savannah (to discuss his role in this Steven Spielberg production, and his subsequent Hollywood career), I have gotten a taste of just how fierce and loyal that following is.
Director Richard Donner (best known for the first Superman and The Beatles A Hard Days Night) served up an idealized (if derivative) pastiche of literally
dozens of filmic stereotypes and plot points, which now seem lifted from scores of golden-age mysteries, suspense thrillers, swashbucking epics and old-time serials.
It was a formula that had worked smashingly for George Lucas and Spielberg on Raiders of The Lost Ark, and while that film was certainly popular with kids, The Goonies was custom-made for the pre-teen demographic.
Which makes it no surprise that many kids found it extremely easy to identify with the films cast of young heroes.
One of those heroes, nicknamed Chunk, due to his stocky frame and clumsy manner, remains perhaps the most beloved character from the film.
And yet, while some of the other actors involved in the film went on to greater fame and notoriety in front of the camera (such as indie-film darling Martha Plimpton, enfant terrible Corey Feldman and Mr. Diane Lane, Josh Brolin), Jeff Cohens interests shifted
from acting work to the drama that goes on behind-the-scenes in Tinseltown.
These days, an older and slimmer Cohen is an entertainment lawyer, and not long ago he remarked that his ongoing notoriety was something of a boon for business.
To tell you the truth, he said, it's very helpful... By having once been an actor, you understand the plight of talent... I think that empathy helps me serve my clients better. And it doesn't hurt with the chicks! (laughs)
Cohen (who won his class presidency at Berkley under the slogan Chunk for President), has come to treasure the fondness people have for him and his role, rather than to be hounded by it.
I don't think I'm going to shake this Chunk thing. It definitely is a double-edged sword. Being a kid actor is a very weird thing. It's something that I don't think you can adequately describe to anyone who hasn't done it. You get to
work with Steven Spielberg. But on the other hand, you're really not ready emotionally for that.
Not too long ago, the former child star was reunited with virtually all the principle cast of The Goonies, when they taped a commentary track for the films long-awaited DVD. While he says he enjoyed the experience immensely, he did feel a certain pressure to attend.
Everyone's going to assume that you're at Betty Ford if you're not there, he joked, so you have to be there.
Cohens talk at SCAD (following a screening of the film) will touch on his law career, as well as his perspective on the life of child stars, but will no doubt center on his experiences making this modern-day movie classic.
Still, Cohen is far from his dream.
If you dont (handle your career) right, you're going to wind up on E! True Hollywood Story. If you do it right: A & E Biography. So I'm really working hard to get that A & E Biography. I have big plans.
Wed., Sept. 15, 7 pm, Trustees Theater. $3 general admission or $1 student tickets sold at the door.