Stand by Me (1986)

Stand by Me (1986)Synopsis:

In 1985, a writer, Gordon “Gordie” Lachance (Richard Dreyfuss, Jaws), recalls an incident that took place over the Labor Day weekend in 1959, in Oregon, USA. The then 12-year-old Gordie (Wil Wheaton, TV’s Star Trek: The Next Generation) and his friends (River Phoenix, Running on Empty, Corey Feldman, Gremlins, Jerry O’Connell, Jerry Maguire) impetuously decide to embark on a trip to locate the body of the presumed dead teen.

Reaction & Thoughts:

Based upon Stephen King’s story The Body, originally published as part of King’s collection of short stories Different Seasons, Stand by Me, directed by Rob Reiner (Misery), 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 dad’s generation, not mine. Is there really a difference between the 1950s and the 1980s? I don’t know, perhaps the best point the movie makes is that no matter the generation, young people face similar problems.

Re-watching this film after nearly three decades made me a bit nostalgic. Now that I’m a middle age man, I’m definitely looking at it from the narrator’s perspective. That’s kind of weird because — I don’t know if this happens to other people — I’m not fully conscious of my aging. Watching this movie was like getting hit with a bucket of ice-cold water — it reminded me that so much time has passed since I was a teenager. And that’s precisely what the movie gets so right — it does feel like someone’s recollections of his/her childhood.

The kids are very good, but you can clearly see that Phoenix had the biggest potential. I was shocked when he died because I believed he was on his way of becoming one of the best actors of his generation. Kiefer Sutherland (The Lost Boys) plays the town’s meanie. John Cusack (Say Anything) appears briefly as Wheaton’s big brother. The cast also includes Jason Oliver, Bradley Gregg, and Casey Siemaszko.

Conclusions & Final Thoughts:

Stand by Me is told simply and skillfully. The characters are more fully realized than in most teen movies. The excellent script is by Raynold Gideon and Bruce A. Evans. Thomas Del Ruth’s  (The Breakfast Club) cinematography and Jack Nitzsche’s (Starman) music score are great too. I don’t think this is a great, great movie, but it explores teen angst with honesty, humor and heart. Color, 88 minutes, Rated PG.

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