Stand by Me (1986)

9.5 Overall Score
Story: 9/10
Acting: 10/10
Visuals: 9/10

Great group of young actors, good story, nice visuals


Movie Info

Movie Name: Stand by Me

Studio: Columbia Pictures

Genre(s): Drama

Release Date(s): August 8, 1986

MPAA Rating: R


Want to see a dead body?

Gordie Lachance (Wil Wheaton) tries to cope with the death of his brother (John Cusack) as he spends the last few days of the summer before middle school with his friends Chris Chambers (River Phoenix), Teddy Duchamp (Corey Feldman), and Vern Tessio (Jerry O’Connell).  When Vern learns about where a missing boy’s body is, the group sets out to be the heroes and find it on a trek through the Maine countryside.  Unfortunately, the town thugs led by “Ace” Merrill (Keifer Sutherland) also know the location of Ray Brower’s body and intend to claim it themselves.


Don’t you know who I am? I’m Jack Bauer! I could kill you six ways to Sunday with this knife!

Stand by Me was directed by Rob Reiner and based on the Stephen King novella “The Body” from Different Seasons (which also housed Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption…another classic).  Reiner is kind of a generic director, but it works here because it is memories of a past being narrated by the ever present writer played by Richard Dreyfuss.  Some of the images as the kids follow the train tracks (with Oregon standing in as the fictional Castle Rock and the surrounding country) are very good, but with such nice scenic areas, you’d be hard pressed not to have good shots.  Reiner has said multiple times that Stand by Me is his most sentimental film and the most important movie to him…it is also probably his best.


Lardass! Lardass! Lardass!

What works for Stand by Me is that it can be enjoyed at different levels by different ages.  It came out when I was ten and I probably first saw it when I was eleven or twelve (the approximate ages of the actors when they made it).  It just felt like a movie about a bunch of kids hanging out doing things you were doing with other kids (well maybe not looking for bodies).  As an adult you can watch the movie and understand the truth of the movie and the underlying message that the friends you have when you are that ages are different than friends you’ll ever have again.  There is a certain closeness that can’t be replicated.

Another strength of Stand by Me is the acting ability of the four kids who seemed a lot like the kids they were playing .  Wheaton seems a bit quiet and withdrawn.  O’Donnell was the youngest of the group and probably treated much like his character.  A friend but always a bit burdened by his weight, still the optimistic one.  Feldman seems unstable and has said that this was the point in his life where he first tried drinking and smoking pot since his parents had left him in the care of the filmmakers.  Phoenix of course is the saddest story and helps make the film more “real” with his real life fate tying into his character.  His strength as an actor also makes the movie sad in that scenes in the movie showed his future ahead of him.

Once you start growing up, there is no turning back

Stand by Me is a great film because it doesn’t have to shove its message down your throat for it to be understood.  The idea that time and age can affect friendships is understandable.  Stand by Me is almost one of those movies that should be watched every few years, just to see how it changes to you so if you haven’t seen it since you were young, check it out again.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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