Pilot Script Review of Untitled Fox The Goonies Pilot
This original idea based on The Goonies comes from writer Sarah Watson. She's The Bold Type creator and before that, she worked with Jason Katims on Parenthood, About A Boy and Pure Genius. She was one of the first creatives to sign up for a script deal with newly founded Fox Entertainment, FOX network's in-house production now that 20th Century FOX Television is part of Disney Studios. Watson was paired with highly respected producer Gail Berman and her Fox-owned production company SideCar to develop the concept. It was then introduced to Steven Spielberg's Amblin, director Richard Donner, his wife/producing partner Lauren Shuler-Donner, and Warner Bros. Television. They all came on board, triggering a pilot order. Superbad helmer Greg Mottola has been tapped to direct the pilot.
Written by Chris Columbus, based on a story by Spielberg and directed by Donner, the original 1985 feature film The Goonies is an adventure comedy about a group of kids from in Astoria, OR, who, while trying to save their homes from foreclosure, find a treasure map and go on an adventure, trying to find a famous pirate’s long-lost fortune. The movie was a box office hit, grossing $124 million on a $19 million budget. It is now considered a classic.
PILOT SCRIPT TITLE: "It's Our Time"
WRITTEN BY: Sarah Watson
DRAFT DATE: 1/31/2020
PAGE COUNT: 61 pages
SCRIPT SYNOPSIS: We open on our heroine STELLA COOPER (34) as she drives through the town of Ridgeville, Ohio, between cornfields and empty farms. She grew up here and went away as soon as she could, but now she's back. She's talking to her boyfriend TRAVIS on the car speaker phone and we learn that she had to leave New York because she was involved in something terrible. We're not told what exactly. She's coming back to Ridgeville to live with her sister and her family for a little while, as she found a temporary teaching job at her old high-school. While they're talking, she suddenly spots a... pirate ship! Just like that, in the middle of nowhere. It's at the very same moment that Travis chooses to dump her. Just like that, on the phone. She doesn't even have time to respond since a kid has just jumped in front of her car. She screams. Travis thinks it's because of him. She hangs up. Turns out the boy thought it was another car. He was playing a role, while an older boy COLLIN (14) records the scene. As soon as they realize their mistake, they run off into the night. Stella hops out of the car. The pirate ship is still there but there's nobody around. Over this, Cindy Lauper's "The Goonies R Good Enough" kicks in.
As the music continues, we dissolve to three kids on bike, riding through Ridgeville in the morning. It's Collin and his two best-friends LOGAN and WILLOW. The music comes from Collin's earbuds. Meanwhile, in the Cooper House, the family is gathered at the breakfast table. That includes Stella's older sister LIZ (37), her husband KEVIN (40) in a cop uniform, his daughter from a previous marriage TORY (15) and their daughter OLIVIA (10). They are all worried about Stella being there, except Liz who seems to be happy to have her sister back. They fight over it while, as Stella enters the kitchen. Then Liz teases her sister about PAUL, her high-school boyfriend who she dumped when she left for New York with no explanation. Actually, she knew he cheated on her with a girl she hated, but he didn't know she knew. He's now a teacher at the same high-school they both went to, and at which she'll also be working. It will be impossible for Stella to avoid him. Before leaving the house, Stella googles herself. Seems like a habit she has. There's nothing new. But sooner or later, there will be and it seems it won't be pretty...
COMMENTS: Make no mistake: this untitled project is a big idea, and big ideas aren't always received well when they're first announced. Unlike so many TV projects these days, this isn't a adaptation or a reboot, but rather an entirely new show that uses nostalgia and the myth of The Goonies to tell a story set in today's world. As the network describes it, it's a "a love letter to the power of cinema, storytelling and dreams," and based the script, I couldn't agree more.
It starts somewhat conventionally, focused on young woman on the verge of a nervous breakdown who needs to go back to her country roots to give a new meaning to her life. These elements remain as the pilot plays out, with the high-school boyfriend coming back in the picture, and the jealous sister who's stuck in a marriage and a family life that she's come to resent. BUT it goes beyond that with a mystery that doesn't find a clear answer in the pilot: Stella did something bad, or she was involved with something or someone bad, and that's the reason why she left New York. Finding out what that something is exactly could spell trouble if the reveal is dragged our for too long or if it's just disappointing, but the pilot's cliffhanger ending suggests we'll get a clearer picture of what's at stake pretty soon.
In any case, Stella Cooper is no Bridget Jones, In the script, she's described as Greta Gerwing if Greta Gerwing hadn't found her way to success. She's basic, but with an edge. She could be one of The Bold Type's heroines actually, just a bit older. Another mystery within the show is a character named Jax. He's a former Marine who owns the local hardware store in Ridgeville and he has a mysterious background. He is one of the few people in town who didn’t grow up there, and he bonds with Stella in a way that screams love triangle sooner or later with her ex-beau. But why is he hiding?
This being a Goonies-adjacent show, it should come as no surprise that kids are at the center of it, and Collin is a bit like Dawson Leery from Dawson's Creek. He's a passionnate, meticulous dreamer who lives in his own world of cinema and close friends. Willow and Logan are his Joey and Pacey. When they're together, there's a spark in their dialogues that just needs the right chemistry to make it sail. Like the Dawsons's Creek characters, they appear to be wise beyond their age, yet come accross as authenthic and relatable as they embark on their own shot-for-shot remake of The Goonies.
The show is also about the harsh reality facing many small towns in middle-America these days, which is a bit of a trend this pilot season, between Superman & Lois, The Republic of Sarah and some others. There's a terrible round of layoffs at the plant where many of Ridgeville's inhabitants work, including Willows'd dad. Logan's mother Denise is working there too, but in the HR department: she's the one who has to tell people they're fired. In this way, the show is rooted in the present, touching on social disparities that audiences should be able to relate to, especially in these desperate times. NBC's Rise tried to do something similar two years ago and despite a good premise, it didn't work. Here's hoping The Goonies' trap — which isn't one, but you know the drill — will attract more eyeballs to it initially.
FINAL RECOMMENDATION: A unique concept that puts The Goonies nostalgia at its center, this project has the potential to both entertain and inspire. FOX has a little jewel here, one that's both fun and emotional. They'd be well-served to proceed with a series order.
OVERALL PROJECT SCORE:
[ ] PASS
[ ] CONSIDER
BEST FIT: Any 8pm slot would do it.