“After the death of one of his friends, a writer recounts a childhood journey with his friends to find the body of a missing boy.”

Director: Rob Reiner
Writers: Raynold Gideon, Bruce A. Evans, Stephen King (based on novella)
Staring: Wil Wheaton, River Phoenix, Corey Feldman, Jerry O’Connell
Release Date: August 22, 1986

Before watching Stand By Me (1986), it had the reputation in my head as one of the landmark boys becoming men stories. It has been referred to by many as a Mount Rushmore movie for childhood friendship and the uncanny openness that can come youthful naivety. The movie stars a quartet of young actors that are recognizable by face if not by name, and a handful of others in bit parts add to its significance.

Setting place in the late 1950s in Oregon, Stand By Me tells the journey of Gordie (Wil Wheaton), Chris (River Phoenix), Teddy (Corey Feldman) and Vern (Jerry O’Connell) as children on an adventure to see the dead body of a local boy who has been missing for a few days. The story is simple, but its message is profound. The boys are looking for a dead body, and there is a sad melancholy understood amongst a few of them that this is the last grand adventure they will have together.

I will remember Stand By Me for one of its many messages: “It happens sometimes. Friends come in and out of your life, like busboys in a restaurant.” This is so true that it hearts. It is a rare thing for friendships to endure from childhood to teenage years and too adulthood. The thing is that these friendships at different times of life all mean different things and they teach you different things. Gordie, in his elder age and now a father himself, understands this. The last line in the movie…

“I never had any friends later on like the ones I had when I was 12. Jesus, does anyone?”

Stand By Me is more of a therapy exercise than a movie going experience. It brought back memories of when I was a younger kid playing little league baseball. Memories then grow to when i was in high school and had a group of friends I’d play pick-up sports with literally every day of the week. The one thing looking back at those is that I did not know myself yet, and I was not in a position to explore that.

I needed the Chris and Gordie conversation:

Gordie: Do you think I’m weird?

Chris: Definitely.

Gordie: No man, seriously. Am I weird.

Chris: Yea, but so what? Everybody’s weird.

So yea hey, guess what, Stand By Me is a pretty darn good movie. It is a lesson on how we need to learn and stand up in those moments when innocence is lost. The fact that these four kids acting in this movie are able to convey the deeper meanings of Stephen King’s novella meant to teach is a testament to director Rob Reiner and his directorial abilities.

On an aside, this is from the same man who did This Is Spinal Tap (1984), The Princess Bride (1987) and A Few Good Men (1992). Oh, let’s also throw in When Harry Met Sally (1989) and Misery (1990). That is a pretty darn good decade run.

I do whole heartedly recommend Stand By Me to anyone who has not seen it. While it stars children, the messages it sends out radiate most with adults who are willing to do an introspection.

STANKO RATING: B+ (4.0/5 Stars)


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