This article explores act 1, sequence 1 of the classic 1980s movie “The Goonies.” In three act structure, there are 8 sequences. Act 1 begins with the first sequence. As a screenwriter, understanding three-act structure is key to successful screenwriting.
“The Goonies” is a classical ensemble picture. As with stories involving a group of people, there is always one primary character, a main protagonist. He makes a majority of the critical decisions. However, many of them are made with the assistance of his companions and all of the characters have arcs as the story moves to its conclusion.
LOGLINE: Action/Adventure – Two brothers and their gang of friends go on an adventure in search of pirate treasure that could save their homes from foreclosure.
ACT 1 GOAL: Mikey Walsh wants to convince his friends to go on an improbable search for pirate treasure to save their homes.
Act 1 Sequence 1
Meet the Fratellis, a ruthless crime family. Mama Fratelli and son Francis Fratelli help the other son, Jake, to escape from jail in the town of Astoria, Oregon. During the ensuing car chase with the bad guys and the police, the kids — soon to be called the Goonies — are presented: Andy, Data, Stef, Mouth, and Chunk. Finally there is the group’s leader, Mikey Walsh. He is in denial about losing his home and fighting with his older brother Brand. The INCITING INCIDENT has already happened.
The neighborhood known as the Goon Docks has been sold to a developer and everyone has to move out. They planned to enjoy their last weekend before their families are evicted from their homes, which are to be demolished to make way for a golf course. Unfortunately, Brand flunked his driver’s license test, so they are stuck being bored. Mikey does not want to believe that they are going to lose the house. Data, Brand, Mouth, and Chunk decide to go into the attic, where Mr. Walsh keeps excess items from the museum. Mikey tries in vain to convince them to leave all the stuff alone. Then Mikey finds a framed painting that looks like a map. Mikey’s FIRST CRITICAL DECISION is to have Chunk hold the painting. He knows that his friend is clumsy and will drop it, which Chunk does. They discover that the painting contains a map.
Now that you have a better understanding of act 1, sequence 1, try writing or rewriting sequence 1 of your screenplay.