Stand by Me (1986)

stand by me poster 1986 movie
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/Act III/Act III Communications

Genre(s): Drama

Release Date(s):  August 6, 1986 (Premiere)/August 8, 1986 (US)

MPAA Rating: R

stand by me cast river phoenix wil weaton corey feldman jerry oconnell

Childhood friends are the best

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 countryside.  Unfortunately, the town thugs led by “Ace” Merrill (Kiefer Sutherland) also know the location of Ray Brower’s body and intend to claim it themselves.  The wilderness is vast but friendship is forever.

stand my me lardass blueberry pie eating contest vomit

Lardass, Lardass, Lardass!

Directed by Rob Reiner, Stand by Me is a coming-of-age drama.  The film is an adaptation of the Stephen King novella “The Body” from Different Seasons.  The film was well received and nominated for an Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay.

I can remember seeing an Entertainment Tonight preview of Stand by Me which featured the leech scene.  Knowing it was Stephen King (and not realizing Stephen King wrote anything “non-horror”), I imagined the leeches were some kind of monster…when I saw Stand by Me soon after, I connected to the film as the kids were just a little older than me.

stand by me kiefer sutherland

I’m Jack Bauer…what I could do to you with this knife is unspeakable!

In general, 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.

What works for Stand by Me is that it can be enjoyed at different levels by different ages.  If you see it as a kid (and it is a movie that should be seen by kids despite some language), it is a true feeling of what it is to hang out with friends and get into trouble.  You also have those friends that you knew so well in elementary school that kind of fade away as you get older for various reasons…it is a universal truth and the idea that the friends you had when you were young just are not the same as your adult friends is very true.  Rewatching it as an adult, it is bittersweet because you can remember that closeness and the feeling that summers lasted forever.

stand by me cast wil wheaton river phoenix corey feldman jerry odonnell

One food…Cherry Flavor Pez…No question

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.

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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