Standing by a Classic Coming of Age Flick

Greeting, everyone! I’m back from my brief hiatus, and I’m ready to share with you the most memorable movies of the 80’s.

Everyone remembers the first friends you had when you were a youngster. Chances are, that friend meant the world to you. However, it’s just as plausible that after a while, you gradually went your separate ways, only to bump into each other once in a blue moon at social gatherings or other similar events. Your dynamic isn’t quite what it used to be.

This brings us to today’s picture, Rob Reiner’s 1986 coming of age tale, “Stand by Me”. Based on the novella “The Body”, penned by Stephen King, this flick concerns four 12 year old boys who set off in pursuit of the dead body of a recently deceased boy of their own age, Ray Brower. They are especially curious as none of them have ever glimpsed a corpse before.

The gang consists of our hero, Gordie LaChance (Wil Wheaton), an aspiring writer who is still grieving over the loss of his favoured older brother, Denny (John Cusack), his close friend, Chris Chambers (River Phoenix), whose entire family are notorious for being aimless slackers, the cocky and talkative Teddy DeChamp (Corey Feldman), who suffers abuse at the hands of his father, and amicable Vern Tessio (Jerry O’Connell), who always finds himself the butt of every joke.

Their trek brings them closer together, but ultimately it strives to tear them apart, as they each learn several essential life lessons. They also have to deal with local jerk Ace Merill (Keifer Sutherland), who is determined to reach the body before the boys do…

“Stand by Me” is the first film I remember watching as a youngster that actually resonated with me, and I felt for the boys’ respective home problems, especially Gordie’s. He still harbours his grief from his brother’s death, and feels as though his parents wanted him to die instead. One of my favourite scenes in the movie comes about when Chris comforts Gordie over this confession. River Phoenix’s acting at this point almost always managed to make me empathize with both boys, who are struggling with growing up in their own unique ways.

The movie is my second favourite adaption of a King novel (after “Shawshank Redemption”, of course), and the actors all perform credibly in their roles. Wil Wheaton excels as a nice guy, in stark contrast to his roles in “Star Trek” and “The Big Bang Theory”. Jerry O’Connell is hilarious as bumbling oaf Vern, while Corey Feldman employs his usual mouthy schtick for the portrayal of the obnoxious, but ultimately sympathetic Teddy.

The real stand out actor to me was River Phoenix, as his character attempts to make a better life for himself regardless of people’s perceptions of his family. It’s hard to believe, while watching his movies, that he died at such a tender age, do that the world will never get a glimpse of what his career could have been.

Richard Dreyfuss brings a nostalgic tint to the story as the adult Gordie reflecting on his childhood pals. He acknowledges that “friends come in and out of your life like busboys in a restaurant”. This sum up of childhood friendships is bound to strike a chord with anyone in the audience who fondly looks back on their childhood and general innocence.

“Stand by Me” rates as a 4 out of 5 star rating in my book, as it blends coming of age with adulthood successfully. I reckon that mature adolescents would enjoy this flick. It’s additionally worth watching for the title song by Ben E. King. All together now- “When the night is young”…


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I am a lover of books, 80's movies and simply acting of any kind! My blog is mainly about sharing my enjoyment of these interests with people with similar pastimes.

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