Tuesday, July 5, 2011

738. Stand by Me (1986)

Running Time: 90 minutes
Directed By: Rob Reiner
Written By: Raynold Gideon, Bruce A. Evans, from the novella The Body by Stephen King
Main Cast: Wil Wheaton, River Phoenix, Corey Feldman, Jerry O'Connell, Kiefer Sutherland


Next up in my salute to Rob Reiner, is an old favorite of mine, "Stand by Me". For the unaware "Stand by Me" is based on a Stephen King novella and while it's not a horror story, I've always thought the film felt like it was taking place in King's world.

During Labor Day weekend in 1959, our tale focuses in on four kids on the cusp of junior high. We've got Gordie Lechance (Wheaton), the thinker of the group, who's home life has taken a downward spiral since the death of his older brother Denny. There's Chris Chambers (Phoenix), the rough one of the group, who smokes and when he's not smoking he keeps his Winston's curled under the sleeve of his white t-shirt. We've also got Teddy Duchamp (Feldman) who's a bit of a loon (but don't say that to his face), especially since his father (who stormed the beaches of Normandy) got committed after he burned Teddy's ear on a stove. And finally you've got Vern Tessio (O'Connell), the heavy-set, scaredy-cat, but also brings to the group their plans for the forthcoming holiday weekend. One day while hanging out in the tree house, playing cards, Vern comes a calling with the news that he overheard his brother talking about the dead body of the recently deceased Ray Brower. Vern knows where the body is and asks his pals the big question, "Do you guys wanna' see a dead body?". The foursome agree that they'll hoodwink their parents into thinking they're going camping and then set out to find the body of Ray Brower and get their pictures in the newspapers, as the boys who found what the authorities couldn't.

Reiner proves that he's a versatile director by going from a mock documentary, comedy to a story about youth and adventure. Watching "Stand by Me" will put you in a time machine and immediately transplant you back to the 1950s, with fixtures like junkyard dogs, old cars, t-shirt fashion statements and oldies music (like "Lollipop", "Yakkity Yak" and, of course, "Stand by Me"). As I mentioned above, this film also really feels like a piece of Stephen King fiction, despite it's obvious exclusion of horror. I've never read the "The Body", although I have read several Stephen King novels and speaking of King novels, it begs the question as to why Reiner's other King adaptation isn't in the "1001" book, that being "Misery". In fact, if given the choice between "Stand by Me" and "Misery", I'd probably choose "Misery", eventhough I do like this movie too.

Anyway, we're getting off track here. "Stand by Me" is a movie that I don't have a problem labeling a "MUST SEE". It's a fantastic little tale about escaping youth, adventure, friendship and it seems to paint a pretty accurate picture of what life was like in the 1950s. It makes me think about my own childhood and while I didn't have a lot of backwoods adventures, it does make me look back and remember the people and places that were the sum of my childhood years. And as I'm writing this review, right this second, I also realize that "Stand by Me" is also a film that I like and I'm not sure why. I'm trying to think of some wonderful things to write down here, but nothing is coming to me. "Stand by Me" is just a really good movie and I think a lot of people would agree with me on that. It's not a film with great sets or great costumes or WONDERFUL acting (although the acting is fine). It's just a good movie - plain and simple.

RATING: 7.5/10 Why is it that I have a much harder time writing about films I've seen before and a much easier time writing about things I'm seeing for the first time? Next up for Reiner: "The Princess Bride".


July 5, 2011 5:16pm

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