Before and After: The Heart Breaking Implications Behind Sloth From The Goonies
We all know Sloth was initially put into the Goonies to scare kids. He was the (false) scare tactic to further remove our feeling of discomfort as we traveled along with this motley crew in search of One-Eyed-Willy’s treasure. You eventually come to learn that Sloth is really just a big, (ugly), lovable, mutant, who pretty much saves the day. And it seems like all is well with the world. We learn that just because something LOOKS like a monster, it doesn’t mean it IS a monster. But, if you as twisted as me, you wonder what life was like for Sloth BEFORE the kids freed him. And also, you wonder what life would be like for him after that. As ideal as it was for the ninety minutes it was on screen, lets do a little before and after, shall we? What you find just under the surface is nothing short of heart breaking.
Try and understand, when we are first introduced to Sloth in The Goonies, we know nothing about him except he looks like a terrifying mutant and can’t speak in English. Mainly he grunts. We have no idea why he looks like he does (big head and one eye lower than the other, plus, missing teeth) but we do seem to learn that he is a member of the Fratelli family, who are the antagonists of the film. But again, we never find out if he is inbred or what, we just know he is monstrous looking and his family abuses him. Seriously.
First time we see him, Sloth’s older brother has a plate of food for him, and he keeps it just out of range and forces Sloth to listen to him sing opera. Think about this single introduction for a second, but let me paint a different picture. Instead of LOOKING like a monster, imagine the person tied up in that chair in that moment is just a special needs kid. BAM, most disturbing scene ever. Yes folks, that is what we are dealing with here. Sloth may have been the saddest person ever put on film. A tragic figure from death to birth, and honestly, nothing was wrong with him except he was special needs, and that makes it extra sad.
Imagine if Sloth was played by Chris Burke (Life Goes On) with no makeup and you have an idea of just how upsetting this all is.
So what you have here is a f*cked up family (The Fratellis) that somehow have an inbred, mutant brother who they keep chained in a basement and abuse. His clothes are all torn and way to small for him, which imply he has been in that very basement, getting treated like that, since he as a child. Do you understand just how soul-ruining of a conclusion that is to come to? And the thing is, working with abused special needs kids, I used to hear worse. Parents who would keep their kids in closets for months at a time, slipping a plate of food in there, once a day, just to keep them alive in case guests visited.
I wish I was joking, but I’m not.
This kid (and kids like him) are amazing, and if you mess with them, you mess with me.
Now to TRULY understand JUST how bad it is for Sloth (by the way, they named him Sloth. The abuse started the second he fell from the womb) you need to see his reaction when Mikey finally slides to food tray over to him. In case you haven’t seen it, he reacts like a man who has NEVER gotten the food tray. He starts laughing maniacally, and rather than eat the food, he holds the tray over his head in an act of pure winning. That, my friends, is a reaction from someone who has NEVER held the food tray up to that point. Does this break anyone else’s heart?
Now all through the movie there are hints the Fratellis have been doing this crime thing as a sort of lifelong spree, so if both brothers are grown up, how old does that make Sloth? It is never said, but implied he lived through a whole childhood and most of his adulthood being treated like an animal. That, my friends, is the stuff of Shakespearean tragedy.
So she gave birth to a half-human defect that she kept around strictly to abuse. Classy!
I realize it is supposed to be a story of redemption, and once The Goonies (Chunk in particular) crossed paths with Sloth, his fate was forever changed. But, can we talk about abuse for a moment, and the toll that takes on someone’s subconscious? Even the act of being freed and released and fed and vindicated, Sloth has still lived, and been treated like, a wild, feral animal for his entire life. So even though a Baby Ruth candy bar would have sated him and filled him with joy for a small amount of time, after all the chaos stopped, and the dust settled, we are supposed to believe what we are told at the end of the film?
Now please, understand, The Goonies is my favorite movie. It always has been. It is the LAST movie I remember seeing with my entire family before my parents got divorced, and it earned a place in my heart that pretty much makes it sacred, but once I started working with special needs kids years ago, my whole view on Sloth changed as well. I no longer saw him as “monster turned good guy” like I was supposed to, I saw “victim perpetuated”. I mean, even at the end, isn’t it kind of messed up for Chunk to risk Sloth’s life to save CHUNK’S friends? Shouldn’t he had kept the risk for Sloth, who obviously suffers from very bad PTSD, to a bare minimum? No, instead, he uses him like an action figure to run a mutiny-rescue operation. I mean, I know Chunk was just a kid, but in essence, so was poor Sloth. That is like a healthy kid befriending a crippled kid so he can put a rocket on the crippled kid’s wheelchair and sit on his lap so they can win a race. And it gets even weirder and more ambiguous from this point on.
You say The Goonies. I say Fight Club prequel.
You see, once The Goonies have all escaped the massive ocean cave-in (that, ultimately kills all of Sloth’s real family) you see them all on the beach, and Chunk tells his parents that Chunk can come live with them. He TELLS them!
Wait a second, I know he was mistreated and is actually sweet, but do you understand the kind of stuff that swims around inside the mind of survivors of terrible abuse? I will give you a hint, the love they have gotten their whole life ( like sexual and physical abuse) is the only love they know, so once you are all back at home, and everything seems fine, and it is all calm and quite, and Sloth’s adrenaline is worn off, he is going to wonder where his opera-singing brother is. You see, he is not relieved they are dead. He doesn’t even know they are dead. He was simply playing “pirate”.
No matter WHAT you think or feel about that final scene, listen to what I am about to tell you, and then watch it again: He thinks they are all playing a game. He even plays dress up in a Superman shirt to prove this. Meanwhile, they are yelling things at him (at a pace so frantic, even someone without special needs would find it all impossible to process) to which he reacts by simply knocking them out. No head biting or gut tearing, just a game of BOINK. He is even laughing throughout most of the scene, to prove he has no idea how to mentally process it.
Jump rope and costumes. You think he knows he is about to kill his family, or is he being manipulated into it by a group of social outcasts for their own gain?
So if we flash forward a few hours to him getting in a car to go live with Chunk (what kind of sick parents would okay this, and in what world would this even be legal? Oh, my son helped you murder your parents, so now you can live with us by default). You see, once it hits Sloth that he is surrounded by people he doesn’t know, and that the weird people who have been abusing him daily for twenty plus years are no longer around, he WILL react adversely. That is when bad things happen, when giant, confused, angry things aren’t sure what is going on.
So, in essence, out of confusion and fear, he will eventually murder Chunk, and all of Chunk’s family (or whatever social service agent is unlucky enough to get stuck with him) and then escape into the wild, reverting to a feral beast, killing on site and living off whatever it can kill.
But he loves Baby Ruth candy bars, so if he ever attacks you in the wild and you are carrying one, you are all set. Throw it down and run in opposite direction.
So what I am getting at is, no good would’ve come from how ANYONE treated Sloth. He was abused through adolescence and treated like an animal. Then, for one brief moment, he was given freedom and treated like superhero. In that time, he killed his family and lost the only home he ever knew. Then, a fat kid with obvious ADHD problems adopted him into his fat family.
My point is, he might have just been better off if they left him in the basement.
” Next week, Chunk dress me as nun and make me spank him on bottom.”