In 1985, a writer, Gordon “Gordie” Lachance (Richard Dreyfuss, The Goodbye Girl), recalls an incident that took place over Labor Day weekend in 1959. The then 12-year-old Gordie (Wil Wheaton, The Curse) and his friends (River Phoenix, Running on Empty, Corey Feldman, The Goonies, Jerry O’Connell, Mission to Mars) impetuously decide to embark on a trip to locate the body of a missing local teen presumed dead.
Reaction & Thoughts:
“Friends come in and out of our lives, like busboys in a restaurant.”
Based upon Stephen King’s story The Body, originally published as part of King’s collection of short stories Different Seasons, Stand by Me took many of us by surprise because we were unaware that King had written non-horror stories. King said back then that it was the best adaptation of one of his works and while I disagree with him, this is indeed an excellent movie that touches on so many emotional issues.
I was in high school when Stand by Me came out so I immediately connected with the main characters. It’s funny because it never occurred to me that the film was actually dealing with my parents’ generation, not mine. Is there really a difference between the ’50s and the ’80s? I don’t know, perhaps the best point the movie makes is that no matter the generation, young people face similar problems.
Interestingly, now that I’m an adult, I’m definitely looking at the movie from the narrator’s perspective. That’s kind of weird because I’m not fully aware of the passing of time. Watching this movie was like getting hit with a bucket of ice-cold water — it made me aware that so much time has passed since I was a teenager — Stand by Me does feel like someone’s recollection of something long forgotten.
Subtly directed by Rob Reiner (The Princess Bride and Misery) from a script by Bruce A. Evans and Raynold Gideon (Evans and Gideon received a well-deserved Oscar nomination), Stand by Me covers some facts about growing pains and life in general. My only negative comment is that the movie is too short.
All four young actors are excellent, but you can clearly see that the late River Phoenix had the biggest potential. I was shocked when he died because I was convinced that he was going to become one of the very best actors of his generation. The cast also includes Kiefer Sutherland (A Few Good Men) as the town’s biggest troublemaker. John Cusack (Say Anything) appears briefly as Wil Wheaton’s big brother.
Conclusions & Final Thoughts:
Stand by Me is told simply and skillfully. Above all, the characters are fully realized. Thomas Del Ruth’s (Fandango and The Breakfast Club) lofty cinematography and Jack Nitzsche’s (An Officer and a Gentleman and John Carpenter’s Starman) heavy-hearted music score are great too. Stand by Me explores teen angst with honesty, humor and heart. Highly recommended! Color, 88 minutes, Rated PG.