Stand By Me (1986)

Genre: Drama

Cast: River Phoenix, Corey Feldman, Kiefer Sutherland

Synopsis: A group of young boys venture into the woods in search of a dead body. Whilst on the hunt they expose their insecurities and take part in a journey that will change their lives forever.

Apologies for not updating the blog sooner but I had an important interview this week so I decided to take a smoking break in order to better prepare for the interview. I still probably botched the interview which is a shame because it was a brilliant position but c’est la vie. Now that the interview is over, I can spark up to my heart’s content. In order to cheer myself up and distract myself from post-interview worry I wanted to watch an uplifting movie but one that wouldn’t have me blubbering like a whale. I settled on Stand by Me because I hadn’t seen it yet and I had heard very good things about it. Plus, as regular readers will have deduced from previous posts, I am a huge Stephen King fan and it’s rare that I’ll turn down an opportunity to watch a film adaptation of one of his works (Dreamcatcher not included).

The thing that really stood out for me in this film is that it kind of served as an eerie harbinger for all of the main actors who starred in it. In a macabre twist of fate, the four boys all became the living embodiment of the characters they so convincingly played in this movie. Will Wheaton plays the sensitive Gordie, a talented and intelligent writer who is coming to terms with the recent death of his much loved brother. Wheaton later became a writer and all-around-awesome nerd. Jerry O’Connell plays Vern, the funny fat kid. O’Connell later became a vaguely successful comedian but has kind of faded into obscurity, much like Vern in the movie. Corey Feldman was perfectly cast as the fucked up Teddy, a kid who harbors sever psychological scars from the abusive relationship with his father. In real life Feldman was a troubled kid who was literally pimped out by his parents to the movie industry. He later became the poster child for washed up child stars, dealing with drink and drugs and coming to terms with the child abuse he endured as a kid. River Phoenix, however, is perhaps the most upsetting example.

Phoenix shines as Chris Chambers, the kid from the wrong side of the tracks who longs to escape the dead end town which he is practically destined to remain in. It’s quite emotional to watch his character develop as the audience knows right from the start of the movie that Chris will later die in a tragic accident, much earlier than he should have died. In real life, Phoenix came from an unusual background but would later become the toast of Hollywood. His career was reaching meteoric heights. All that came to an end when he passed away, the unfortunate casualty of a drug overdose. The parallels between Chris Chambers and River Phoenix are startling and it makes the film that much more engaging and poignant. All the actors bring an amazing complexity to their roles as lovely kids from messed up backgrounds but it is Phoenix that really stands out by bringing a real and touching sensitivity to the film.

The film has many other great aspects. The soundtrack is absolutely cracking and I applaud the person in charge of sound in this movie. The sporadic use of music is brilliant because it effectively presents the film as a snapshot in time. Moreover, there are plenty of scenes to get your heart racing and the scenery is gorgeous. This film is a pleasure to watch and I highly recommend that everyone see this movie at least once, preferably more.

High-lights:

  • Likeable characters with great complexity.
  • The scene with the train is tense as hell.
  • Awesome soundtrack. No-one could possibly complain about the use of Stand by Me and Lollipop.
  • The dead body is actually really funny…kind of kills the moment but in a film that lacks a lot of humor it’s a welcome break.

Downers:

  • The leech scene is gruesome as fuck!
  • Some very minor instances of bad child acting but they are few and far between.
  • The fact that the actors became these characters is a real downer.

Summary:

Excellent. A real treasure. This is a movie is both uplifting and heartbreaking at the same time. It’s a great movie to watch when you want to feel human and be reminded of all the beauty and tragedy of life. Feel the feels. Because of its emotional nature I would say it’s best to watch this on your own but any strain would complement the movie nicely. This should definitely be an addition your DVD/illegal download collection.

9/10

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2 Comments

Filed under Drama, Great

2 responses to “Stand By Me (1986)

  1. Back when Sliders debuted in ’91, I didn’t connect Jerry O’Connell with his role here at all. I loved the first two seasons of that show, and it looked like O’Connell had a very bright future in front of him… and what’s he doing now? The Piranha remake. Jesus wept…

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