Stand By Me (1986) – Film Review

Will Wheaton, Corey Feldman and Kiefer Sutherland star in the eighties classic Stand By Me...

Stand By Me is Rob Reiner’s adaptation of Stephen King’s novella, The Body. The story follows Gordie LaChance, (Will Wheaton), a smart boy, cast aside by his parents since the death of his brother, and his three friends, Chris Chambers (River Phoenix), the leader of the gang said to be from a bad family, Teddy Duchamp (Corey Feldman), an eccentric child desperate for his mentally unstable fathers approval and Vern Tessio (Jerry O’Connell), a naive and nervous sort of boy.

The action is set in the fictional town of Castle Rock in Oregon. The summer holidays are drawing to a close and, with the thought of starting ‘junior high’ imminent in everyone’s thoughts, the four childhood friends set off on one final adventure – to find the missing body of a local boy. The nervous Vern is the one who finds out the whereabouts of the missing boy after overhearing a conversation between his brother and his brothers friends, both members of Ace (Keifer Sutherland)’s gang.

The boys journey along a train track discussing the important things in their lives. What is goofy? Could Mighty Mouse defeat Superman? And what food would you eat for the rest of your life if you had to choose? The film perfectly captures the innocence of boyhood, ‘a time before girls’, yet it also captures the emotional burdens the boys carry, as most children do. As they follow the tracks to the dead body they not only discuss the fickle issues of boyhood but their more serious worries, worries they cannot share with their parents.

The search for the body is so much more than the boys attempt to become heroes. It is a reason to escape from their worries of home life and their impending return to school – a new school where they are to be separated. After various dramatic events such as the escaping of Chopper the dog, a fast moving train and dealing with leeches, the boys find the body of the missing boy. Finding the body allows Gordie to finally grieve for his own brother, while allowing the others to reflect on their short journey and their future when they return home. Before they can return home they must deal with Ace and his gang, an experience all the boys gain strength from.

Stand By Me is a great representation of a young boys’ summer holiday. The film does a great job in transporting audiences back to their own summer holidays. The very fact that older viewers are transported back in time when they watch the film and younger viewers can relate to the four main characters, suggest that Stand By Me is well and truly timeless.

Best performance: Corey Feldman as Teddy.
Best scene: ‘The all time train dodge’
Best line: ‘I never had any friends later on like the ones I had when I was twelve. Jesus, does anyone?’
Watch this if you liked: If you like coming of age movies, it is the finest of the genre.

Two of the boys went on to star in two hit 90’s U.S. series – Will Wheaton starring in Star Trek: Next Generation and Jerry O’Connell in Sliders.

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