#MovieFailMondays: The Goonies (Or, How Movies Can Teach You About Logical Fallacies and Help You Ace the LSAT)

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Manhattan Prep LSAT Blog - #MovieFailMondays: The Goonies

Each week, we analyze a movie that illustrates a logical fallacy you’ll find on the LSAT. Who said Netflix can’t help you study? 🎥📖


Did you know that you can attend the first session of any of our online or in-person LSAT courses absolutely free? We’re not kidding! Check out our upcoming courses here.


Forget about Pixels for a second. I mean, most of you probably didn’t see it, and those who did probably blocked it from their memories. So let’s just say it doesn’t exist. This way, we can talk about Chris Columbus without feeling bad.

In 1985, Richard Donner, Steven Spielberg, and Chris Columbus collaborated on a little project that we all know (and love!) as The Goonies. If you’ve never seen this film, go, right now, and watch it.

The Goonies tells the tale of a group of friends (the Goonies) who go on a last adventure before they lose their home to an expanding country club. Starring Sean Astin, it’s essentially Lord of the Rings if you replaced Sauron with rich people, the ring with a doubloon, and Elijah Wood with a young Corey Feldman. So, in other words, if you improved on it in every way.

This adventure stems from a map they discover, purporting to lead them to the treasure of One-Eyed Willy. While searching for the treasure (and solving riddles along the way, as was the style in the ‘80s), the evil Fratelli family (yes, the band took their name from this movie) chases them down.

Caves are explored, danger is survived, and truffles are shuffled before the Goonies finally make their way to Inferno, One-Eyed Willy’s ship. Treasure decks the deck, and they begin to fill their pockets until the Fratellis find them and demand the treasure for themselves. The Goonies escape, a booby trap foils the Fratellis, and Chunk and Sloth live happily ever after (I told you to watch the movie – if none of this makes sense without that context, it’s your own fault).

The map that sets them off on this quest is found in the attic of the main character. Unluckily, it’s written in Spanish. Luckily, Corey Feldman speaks Spanish! He easily translates the map along the way, giving them the necessary hints to overcome the booby traps left by the Rube-ian pirate.

A particularly tricky trap along the way involves a piano. When translated, the instructions read:

To move on, play the tune as each note is said.

If you make too many mistakes, ye will surely be dead.

A music-based trap? Nothing illogical about that. A cryptic clue? Logic will surely help us solve this? Presented in a rhyming couplet? Well, that’s just how these things work, right?

Wrong.

Remember, the original was in Spanish. There’s no reason for it to rhyme in English. And the translation was done piecemeal, so we can’t even argue that Feldman massaged the translation to make it rhyme.

This movie plot hole (really, a stylistic flair) highlights an important flaw that many people commit when taking the LSAT – they let real-world expectations impact how they analyze the logic. In the real world, rhyming couplets are almost the norm when a treasure is being hunted. This results in people not questioning why a Spanish couplet rhymes in English.

Similarly, the LSAT will play with concepts that people treat as a given in the real world. Common ones include people assuming that:

  • The purpose of a diet is to lose weight
  • Losing weight = losing fat
  • Creating art for money results in sub-par art
  • Unhealthy habits have no positive side-effects

…and many others.

So remember, dear readers – when taking the LSAT, the only things you can say for sure (other than simple definitions of words) is what is written on the page. Don’t take things for granted, and question the connections that we expect to see, because if they’re not explicitly stated, they’re not explicitly true. 📝


Want to learn more about Logical Reasoning on the LSAT? Don’t forget that you can attend the first session of any of our online or in-person LSAT courses absolutely free. We’re not kidding! Check out our upcoming courses here.


Matt Shinners Manhattan Prep LSAT InstructorMatt Shinners is a Manhattan Prep instructor based in New York City. After receiving a degree in Biochemistry from Boston College, Matt scored a 180 on his LSAT and enrolled in Harvard Law School. There’s nothing that makes him happier than seeing his students receive the scores they want to get into the schools of their choice. Check out Matt’s upcoming LSAT courses here!

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