“I never had any friends later on like the ones I had when I was twelve. Jesus, does anyone?”
Stand by Me is seriously one of the best films about friendship, and growing up. The film came out in the late 80s, 1987 to be exact, and is one of the earlier films by Rob Reiner, who went on to direct The Princess Bride, Misery and When Harry Met Sally. This was before he forgot how to direct, of course. The film is based on the novella The Body by Steven King, who I adore. And this film is hands down my favourite adaption of what Steven King has written, he even said so himself.
“After director Rob Reiner screened the movie for Stephen King, Reiner noticed that King was visibly shaking and wasn’t speaking. King left the room and upon his return, he told Reiner that the movie was the best adaptation of his work he had ever seen.”
Sure The Shawshank Redemption is good, beyond good, but this film and the novella hit me hard, and it is in graved in my heart forever. I know that sounds rather sappy but it is the truth.
The film is about four, 12-year-old best friends, Gordie (Wil Wheaton), Chris (River Phoenix), Teddy (Corey Feldman) and Vern (Jerry O’Connell). The story plays out in the late 1950’s in the town of Castlerock, Oregon. They find out that the body of a missing boy is located in the woods, by the railroad, and they set out to find him before anyone else does. Gordie and his friends decided to lie about going camping and by foot, they make the journey to find the boy. Meanwhile, the bad kids in town set out to do the same, when learning about the boy’s whereabouts. This journey they make unlocks emotions within the four boys, that they usually don’t face head on, but now they must. The film is basically a story about how an event can unexpectedly change lives.
I saw this film way too late in life (mind you, I’m only 18) but this film would have put many things in perspective if I had seen it when I was 12-13. It would have changed my life I reckon, and it did to some degree change how I felt about friendship and what really matters in life when I saw it at age 16. I do still have a nostalgic feeling towards the film, although I shouldn’t have. I wished that I had friends like that when I was younger, that I had a life-changing adventure like that when I was young, but I didn’t.
The acting in this film is really what makes it, everyone is absolutely lovely, but some standout. River Phoenix is one of them, his sincerity and poignancy that he added to his role made my heart cry. Such a true talent, and I miss him, although I wasn’t born when he passed. One of my favourite scenes in film history ever is the milk-money scene, and if you watch that you will understand my eternal love for River. The other lads were also very good, and for their young age, I applaud them forever. One of my favourite villains is also in this film, Ace Merril (Kiefer Sutherland), and he is ruthless and sadistic, but so dashing all the same. Rob Reiner directed this film brilliantly, he pushed the four young boys to their limits and it paid off.
The ending will forever be one of my favourite endings in a film, I know I have said ‘favourite’ a lot in this review but I owe my love for film to this masterpiece of emotion. I won’t spoil the ending for you but I sobbed and I smiled and sobbed some more, just like in The Dead Poet’s Society (another favourite). You will find pieces of yourself in these four boys, and if you haven’t seen it you are missing such a gem.