Stand By Me (1986)

DVD Cover (Sony Home Entertainment Special Edition)
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Overall Rating 84%
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Ranked #319
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Gordie Lachance, a writer, looks back on his preteen days when he and three close friends went on their own adventure to find the body of a kid their age who had gone missing and presumed dead. The stakes are upped when the bad kids in town are closely tailing - and it becomes a race to see who'll be able to recover the body first. --IMDb
Wil Wheaton
Wil Wheaton
River Phoenix
River Phoenix
Corey Feldman
Corey Feldman
Jerry O'Connell
Jerry O'Connell
Kiefer Sutherland
Kiefer Sutherland
Review by Chad
Added: March 17, 2008
Kids are growing up faster than ever these days, a fact which I personally can attest to; I mean, my seven-year-old plays around on a laptop computer while her Barbie dolls gather dust in her room, and she's more interested in the latest flash in the pan pop star (Hannah Montana at the moment) than cartoons or children's programming. This is a far cry from my days as a kid when building forts and playing around in the woods was the thing to do, but even that was leagues away from the fifties, a time in which kids were kids pretty much up until they became working stiffs. Stand by Me, based on the novella by Stephen King, is an authentic look at what it was like to be a kid during that era, but make no mistake about it: the general story and character motivations are timeless, even if the slang isn't.

Four friends round out the cast for this one, each with their own set of issues and problems. We've got Gordie (Wil Wheaton), a young man whose older brother has recently died, causing his parents to pretty much ignore him as said older brother was the "favorite" child in the family. Then we've got Chris (River Phoenix), a boy whose souse of a father abuses him on a damned near daily basis. Rounding out this band of misfits is Teddy (Corey Feldman), a boy with some severe mental issues due to his father having been committed to an asylum, and Vern (Jerry O'Connell), an overweight child who seems to be a little slow on the uptake. None of them will win any popularity contests, but even though they take great delight in picking on one another, they're the best of friends and spend pretty much all of their free time together.

Things get interesting for these kids when one of them drops a bit of a bombshell on the others: while digging around underneath his porch, he overheard his older brother discussing something with one of his friends. What, pray tell, was the subject of this discussion? The location of the body of a kid who has been missing for a couple of days, that's what. Childhood curiosity being what it is, the four decide to follow the train tracks to this decomposing body so that they can all catch a peek at it and maybe even become celebrities in their small little town, but they'll soon have to face off against Ace Merrill (Kiefer Sutherland) and the other older kids of the town, all of whom also want a crack at the recognition that finding this body would bring.

Although finding this body is obviously the main goal of the film, it's far from being the main emphasis throughout the vast majority of the running time. By this, I mean that the story focuses more on the interactions between these kids while also giving each individual member of the gang time to properly develop their characters as well as giving us some back-story on each of them. In fact, save for the opening and the closing of the film, that dead body laying alongside the train tracks takes a backseat throughout the entire film; these kids and this journey is the true story here, and personally, I couldn't have been happier with that decision.

One of the things that really impressed me about the film was how close the filmmakers stuck to the source material, that being the novella The Body by Stephen King. With the exception of the final fate of two characters (which were unimportant changes in the grand scheme of things, truth be told) and the omission of certain scenes and chunks of dialogue (necessary to fit this story into a reasonable running time), Stand by Me is an almost direct translation from the printed word to the silver screen. This may seem like a minor thing to some, but when you're dealing with the works of Mr. King, that's a bit of a rarity; however, it seems whenever filmmakers opt to take this route, the results are nothing less than stunning. This film was no exception.

King fans will certainly appreciate that book-to-film translation, but much like the other major hits that have borrowed from his work, this is not a film that relies on the viewer having a history with the source material. Haven't read the story? No problems, you'll still love this one. I realize that the "love" blanket is a bit of a hit-or-miss statement with most films, but truthfully, this is one of those classics - not unlike The Shawshank Redemption - that anyone with a heart will enjoy. You can't go wrong with this one even if you happen to share my opinion on child actors (that being that they have no place in any film that is even remotely targeted towards adults) as these kids... well, just take a look at their names, and you'll see that all but one of them are now household names. That happened for a reason, as each of them brought their own unique personality to the table and made for some truly interesting and entertaining characters.

There really is a lot to love about Stand by Me: as a kid, I loved it for the simple fact that it presented us with a realistic tale of adventure featuring average, everyday kids, and as an adult, I can see all of the more subtle traits that are featured throughout the film. It really takes a special film to appeal to both children and adults at an equal level, but to do so while also telling one hell of a story that keeps the viewer hooked from beginning to end... well, that's just a classic film. 10/10.
Tristan #1: Tristan - added 03/17/2008, 01:21 PM
One of the few King adaptations that actually did the story justice, and a timeless classic indeed. 10/10
Edd #2: Edd - added 03/17/2008, 01:36 PM
Yes! I love this movie. absolutely brilliant.
Nirrad #3: Nirrad - added 03/17/2008, 01:59 PM
This was one of the first movies I've ever seen. It's such a good film. I definitely need to pick this one up very soon.
Ginose #4: Ginose - added 04/01/2008, 06:09 PM
Wonderfuly solid movie that I enjoy to this day. Some serious life lessons I learned from this one as a kid.. made such a lasting impact.
Bliss From A Dead Embrace #5: Bliss From A Dead Embrace - added 01/30/2009, 01:56 AM
Lucid Dreams #6: Lucid Dreams - added 09/10/2010, 12:33 AM
It's weird looking at these kids and seeing where they are today. 10/10
AttnDefDis #7: AttnDefDis - added 09/11/2010, 11:30 AM
The best is chubby ass Jerry O'Connell with a lisp. "They was flippin' for beers". Classic. Oh, and River Phoenix was ridiculously talented and hot, no matter what age he was. R.I.P. a real loss in my opinion.
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