Seeing as how I’ve been laid up around the house the last few days, I’ve managed to watch a few movies that I haven’t seen in a while. The first being the 1986 classic, “Stand By Me.” Based on a Stephen King short story, it’s about 4 young friends who set out on a journey and, along the way, learn about life, friendship and how to be men. It’s a smorgasbord of talent, with River Phoenix, Corey Feldman, Wil Wheaton and a chubby Jerry O’Connell as the 4 friends and appearances by Richard Dreyfuss, John Cusack and Keifer Sutherland. With that kind of talent, it’s easy to see why this film is a favorite from the 80’s and has been mentioned quite a bit since the release of “Super 8” a few months ago.
The story is told from the perspective of an adult Gordie Lechance (Dreyfuss). As he reminisces about his youth after his friend is killed in a bar fight, we are taken back to his early teen years when he and his 3 best friends walked 30 miles to see a dead boy who was hit by a train. Although the journey has a purpose, it’s in the time that it takes for them to get there that the boys learn a lot about themselves and which direction their lives are headed. For young Gordie (Wheaton), he must learn to overcome the death of his brother (Cusack). For his best friend Chris (Phoenix), it’s the knowledge that he might never get out of their small Oregon hometown. For Teddy (Feldman), it’s dealing with the pressure of having a mentally ill father. And for Vern (O’Connell), it’s dealing with being the “fat” kid in the group. Each has their demons and it’s along the way that they realize that life is much bigger than them. It’s a true “feel good” story that is spun in a way that allows each actor some room to do his own thing.
What I love about this film is the simplicity of it. It follows a narrative and never once gets too overblown or over-the-top. Each role has a purpose and it’s through these young actors that each one is given its due. My favor scene is when the boys are sleeping in the woods and each one has to stay up and guard the camp with a gun stolen from Chris’ dad’s dresser. But there are several great parts in this film and each one has its place. It’s a classic from a decade full of great John Hughes inspired films that has stood the test of time and I highly recommend it.
Overall Rating: A+