From Santa Claus to Homer Simpson, everyone loves a fat guy, and at some point these fat guys were fat kids. We’re celebrating 80s cinema with some reflections about two of our favorite little butterball kids from some 80s classics. Dagger gave us chubby little Vern Tessio this morning, and I offer you Lawrence Cohen.
The name Lawrence Cohen may not ring a bell with you, but if I call him by the name his so called friends use, Chunk, you probably know exactly who I am talking about. That’s right Chunk is the token fat kid with the Goonies.
I never completely understood why Chunk hung out with the Goonies. The rest of the Goonies never treated him all that great. I suppose sometimes that is the role of the fat friend; the scapegoat, the one who is ripe to be picked on. They gave him the moniker of Chunk, which is a step up from being called Fat Kid like the fat kid in The Monster Squad. On top of all this, Chunk is often forced to perform the “Truffle Shuffle.” Just make the fat kid lift his shirt and shake his belly. But Chunk appears desperate for friends, so he does it.
Later in the movie the Goonies do not attempt rescue Chunk when the Fratellis get him. Goonies may never say die, and they definitely don’t say, ”never leave a man behind.” I guess they assume since it’s only the fat kid they can leave him behind. They still have the Asian kid to serve as their neo-minstrel.
I guess it is partially Chunk’s fault since he exhibits similar behavior as Vern Tessio, the scared wuss behavior. Chunk would rather eat the ice cream than climb into the creepy hole. So words of advice, find out where your friends stand on getting you out of a walk in freezer before you find yourself in a walk in freezer.
It’s moments like these when Chunk plays right into the fat kid stereotype 80s movies were selling audiences. So after some time has passed, not much, we all laugh when Chunk complains about being hungry. Or why the audience can coo and awe when he shares a Baby Ruth.
While this movie isn’t short on playing up the fat kid angle for the comedic and stereotypical aspects, it also does something smart. Having Chunk be the one who relates to Sloth is the only way we would believe in Sloth and accept the whole scenario there.
Chunk has probably spent the better part of his life as the outcast, looked down on for being overweight. Perhaps kept hidden as others were ashamed of him and for him. These are things we know Sloth has experienced due to his grotesque Rocky Dennis like face. Chunk is the only one of the Goonies we would believe could empathize with Sloth. And when their friendship is born and grows we know it is based on a common pain and common need for each other.
We all know how we have treated the fat kids we have known and we can easily make the connection that Chunk and Sloth are one in the same.
Chunk’s ability to persevere and get out of the clutches of the Fratelli Family made a lot of fat kids believe in themselves, and perhaps helped paved the way to make the fat kid more than the butt of jokes. Chunk may have made it possible for people like the catcher from The Sandlot and Jonah Hill to be more than just the token fat kid. One could almost say Chunk was like the MLK of fat kids in cinema.
Now do the Truffle Shuffle!
07 Apr 2010 Lee S. Hart