Starlight Cinema

My wife went out of town for an overnight business trip. When that happens, my son and I usually find a way to get into a little he-man mischief. Last night we threw a couple camp chars and blankets in the car, grabbed a nutritious meal from Jack-in-the-Box, and headed to San Pedro Square to watch “The Goonies” outdoors in a big Downtown San Jose block party. Don’t tell my wife that we stayed up way past our bedtimes.


The San Jose Downtown Association has been putting on these Wednesday night “Starlight Cinema” events all summer long in three different locations: San Pedro Square at Santa Clara Street, the Historic District on Post Street between First and Market, and SoFA District at South First and William. This week’s “The Goonies” was the last showing at San Pedro Square this summer, but the other two locations still have upcoming features:

  • August 18, 2010 — “Creature from the Black Lagoon in 3-D”, Historic District
  • August 25, 2010 — “Zombieland”, SoFA

Believe it or not my son and I had never seen “The Goonies.” You: “You’ve never seen ‘The Goonies?!?'” Me: “Yeah, I know, right?” What’s more I didn’t know anything about it. I heard of it and I knew it was about kids and I remember confusing it with “Gremlins” when it came out, but that was it. I didn’t know the plot or who was in it. I acknowledge this is pretty strange because I was a kid when it came out, the same age as some of the actors in the movie. I saw many of its similar contemporaries like “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom” and “The Lost Boys” but somehow “The Goonies” never made it on my to-do queue.

One thing I did know is that people my age love this movie. Our friends at wrote a moving tribute to its timeless appeal on the occasion of its 25th anniversary this year on June 7. The town of Astoria, Oregon, where it was filmed, hosted a special celebration with a red carpet screening, a bus tour of film locations, a meet & greet with the cast, and a picnic.

CIMG1427San Jose didn’t go quite that far but last night was a lot of fun. We got to San Pedro Square about 8:00 PM, parking in the $3 flat-rate city garage there. The crowd was already sizable but we managed to find a couple spots on the curb for our chairs. A little to the left we would have been behind a lamp post and a little to the right we would have been a safety hazard obstructing the sidewalk, so we did alright though our view was partially blocked by an especially high-backed folding chair in front of us. It was a little hard to hear the sound system but it got better once the movie started and the audience quieted down. There were a couple tables on the opposite curb promoting the Downtown Association, Broadway San Jose, and selling movie snacks and drinks. My son opted for Milk Duds. I prefer Red Vines myself, but I respect his choices.

There was some pre-show entertainment. Fans participated in a treasure hunt where they had to collect clues at various local restaurants. If they found a key they got a chance to try opening a treasure chest live in front of the crowd. The winner found Broadway San Jose tickets inside; the losers won various raffle prizes. Then the organizers held a trivia contest with additional goodies, but my son and I tried to ignore the questions in case there were spoilers. They showed four shorts produced by local filmmakers participating in the Cinequest/Adobe Youth Voices program, then around 9:00 PM the feature presentation began.

It was a good adventure flick. I didn’t love it; it was a bit too contrived and there was way too much screaming for my grownup sensibilities (“WAAAUUUGGGHHH…!!!”). The characters were crazy fun though, and the kid actors delivered some great performances. I had no idea Sean Astin and Josh Brolin were in this movie and I didn’t even recognize them. My son’s favorite character was Sloth and football fan that he is, was delighted to learn John Matuszak played for the Raiders.

I did get goosebumps as the Goonies unlocked the secrets of One-Eyed Willie’s  treasure map and its Spanish legend. Corny as it sounds it reminded me of my own map quests, poring over high-res scans of sepia parchments trying to decipher centuries-old Spanish. And I understood what drove Mikey on. It wasn’t gold, it was the feeling that there was something out there to discover that would unlock something inside. He found his, and the deeper I dig into El Camino Real, the closer I get to mine.


Starlight Cinemas

Free Summer Outdoor Movies
Every 2nd, 3rd, and 4th Wednesday of the month

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