How quickly I return with another review! Scrolling through the IMDb Top 250 (I’m about 59 films of the way through it now), and I chance upon Stand By Me. A friend said it was sweet, and what do you know, it was. It’s a short but sweet film about the magic of friendship (that was cheesier than I intended it to be, and for that I apologise).
As with a lot of 80s American teen drama films, there is a “gang of four”: Gordie (Wil Wheaton), Chris (River Phoenix), Teddy (Corey Feldman) and Vern (Jerry O’Connell). If any of you have seen Sleepers, it’s a bit like the rural version of that, though none of these boys are going to get raped and brutalised by the juvenile delinquent system. That took a dark turn. Anyway, they head off into the forest to look for a boy’s dead body. This trip makes them laugh, cry, and ultimately it changes their lives. What is it with the clichés all of a sudden?
SBM goes back to one of my favourite film motifs: friendship in the young and innocent. Particularly between Gordie and Chris, the bond is strong and pure, and I think that’s what gives the film universal appeal: they strive to make the other one see the good in themselves, and I love that. “I never had any friends like the ones I had when I was 12. Jesus, does anyone?” This line did not actually strike a chord with me, as the friendships I have now are stronger than the ones of my secondary school years, but I know it definitely will for some of the audience.
What I really liked about SBM was the fact that the boys obviously saw well into the future, watched the episode of the Simpsons titled “Bart Stops to Smell the Roosevelts”, and understood that Milhouse’s love for the book “It’s Cool to Cry”. We need more depictions of male emotion in our media, which SBM gives us. I know the characters were only 12 and 13, but that is the time when boys start to become emotionally stunted, and they need to learn that opening up to friends is a positive thing. None of the boys mocked each other for crying; they were always supportive
If you just want something light that may make you cry, the SBM is the film for you. It’s quick, easy, and funny: perfectly reflecting how the lives of pre-teens should be, i.e. sometimes difficult, but with friendship always being there to see you through the hard times.