"Stand By Me" (1986)

Rating: 15
Genre: Action & Adventure, Drama
Directed By: Rob Reiner
Written By: Bruce A. Evans, Raynold Gideon
Released: Jan 1st, 1986
Runtime: 87 minutes
Studio: MCA Universal Home Video

After learning that a stranger has been accidentally killed near their rural homes, four Oregon boys decide to go see the body. On the way, Gordie Lachance (Wil Wheaton), Vern Tessio (Jerry O'Connell), Chris Chambers (River Phoenix) and Teddy Duchamp (Corey Feldman) encounter a mean junk man and a marsh full of leeches, as they also learn more about one another and their very different home lives. Just a lark at first, the boys' adventure evolves into a defining event in their lives.

I absolutely loved this movie. It’s incredibly touching and full of heart with wonderful characters at the helm of the story. 

The plot is simple with heaps of room for mischief to unfold. I mean, because all good ideas come from the statement – ‘let’s go find a dead body’, right? Hmm… However, it was an adventure they sought after and it was certainly an adventure they got. It’s an exploration of what young boys talk about when they’re alone.  

The friendship between the four leads is utterly infectious. They take the piss out of each other but if anyone else outside of their group upsets any of them you better believe they’re going to pay for it. Each one of them is so well rounded and developed, brought to life by a lovely collection of actors. Admittedly their careers have each in their own way fizzled out now but they were all something special in this film. 

Recapping a story from his youth, Gordie, played by a very young Will Wheaton. Of all the boys he’s probably the stiffest and morally uptight. But he’s been through the wars, having lost his brother with whom he was very close. John Cusack plays his brother in an early role in his career. The two actors actually look very alike, as does the actor who played their father, so it was successful casting in that regard!

River Pheonix plays Chris, Gordie’s best friend and more or less the leader of the group. What I loved about his character was the fatherly role he took in the group. He looked out for each of his friends in such a loving way and always had their best interests at heart. He listens to them, lifts up their confidence, and stands up for them. He’s also not afraid of taking the piss out of them but god help anyone else who takes the piss out of his friends. He saves the life of Teddy and we learn he had previously done this already in a past event. He praises Gordie’s writing abilities and even goes so far as to say he wishes he was his father so that he could treat him better and encourage this talent saying he has a gift and he needs to use it. He later encourages him to tell them all a story while sitting around the campfire after a long day of walking. He’s a fierce friend.

Kiefer Sutherland has a role in this movie as a want-to-be-tough-guy-and-bully. I’m really not being mean but he seems to have a talent at playing assholes. Anything I’ve seen him in he’s playing the asshole of the movie. Or could-be-asshole. He’s a great actor. 

This reminds me a little of The Goonies. And a little of the new film IT. (What with the latter being written by the same author that’s hardly surprising!) Obviously all three films are extremely different from each other but they all have a tight friendship group of young boys who set out on an adventure together. Their closeness is what makes them similar. This is likely coming to my attention from watching these three movies in fairly close succession. Of three of them, this would be the saddest. It does have a sad undertone about it right the way through. But no matter. Given that their end goal is to find a dead body, are we surprised? That is a little morbid to be fair… There is always the undercurrent of Gordie missing his deceased brother as well. The melancholy doesn’t exactly lift and the ending, while subtle, sort of knocked the wind out of me a little bit. I won’t say what it is because if anyone is reading this who hasn’t seen the film, I wouldn’t want to spoil it. Suffice to say, I feel it was an unnecessary inclusion and yet not out of place. Actually, I sort of anticipated it and even expected it to happen sooner than it did. 

I loved this film. Really, really enjoyed it. I recommend it highly.