Stand by Me (1986)

Film review: Stand by Me (1986), directed by Rob Reiner

standbymeBased on a short story by Stephen King, Stand By Me is about a group of friends (Wil Wheaton, River Phoenix, Corey Feldman, Jerry O’Connell) who go hiking to find a dead body. Vern (O’Connell) overheard his older brother (Casey Siemaszko) talking to a friend about finding the body of Ray Brower while getting rid of a stolen car. Maybe the boys could be local heroes if they were to find the body first, so off they go.

It’s a coming-of-age roadmovie … by foot, and it’s made it to the 181st spot on IMDb’s Top 250 list.

Also featuring Kiefer Sutherland as Ace Merrill, and Richard Dreyfuss as The Writer, and John Cusack as the late Denny Lachance.

One of the things I find very amusing is that when it comes to films based on Stephen King’s writings, the ones that are oh so very good are not the scarefests he’s known for as an author … but actually stories like these. And it’s not just that I think they’re good, other people seem to do it to – Stand By Me is ranked the 181st best film in the world (according to IMDb’s massive userbase), as mentioned above. The Green Mile is #45 on that list and The Shawshank Redemption is #1. Number frickin ONE. Yes, okay, The Shining is also on there (#55), and the original Carrie has a rating of 7.4 out of 10, but considering he’s mainly known for writing horror, his best works are arguably not horror stories.

I was surprised to find that the main character Gordie was played by the same guy who now does boardgame videos on YouTube, and has been in both The Guild and The Big Bang Theory. Wil Wheaton sure gets around! When I mentioned to the Squeeze that Gordie looks nothing like Weaton today, he just gave me a funny look. Then again, he’s seen him in Star Trek: The Next Generation, which I haven’t, so he would have seen him growing older.

Anyway. Seeing as how Stand By Me is set in the summer of 1959, in Oregon, there are both lovely scenery and great music. If you’ve not seen the film, you’ve probably seen (or at least heard of) the scene where they’re crossing a train bridge and the train comes. It’s iconic.

For a warm, and quietly amusing, film about times gone by, where the music came from portable radios and every day was fragrant with sun-soaked pine woods, watch Stand By Me. It might be a complete sausagefest (there are only four females in the cast list of 33, and they all have very small roles – the biggest one is Gordie’s mum, played by Frances Lee McCain), but then it’s a film about a group of boys who go alone into the wilderness. To find a dead body. Like you do.

4.2 out of 5 smashed mailboxes.

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