My Favorite Movies #7 – Stand By Me

Stand By Me

1986

Directed by Rob Reiner

Quick synopsis… Four boys seek adventure and heroism in the Oregon woods with their search for a missing teen’s dead body in the 1950s. What they uncover about themselves along the way, however, means even more.

  • This is my favorite Stephen King adaptation of all time, based on his novella The Body.
  • If you’re interested in reading it, you can find it in the Difference Seasons collection.
  • Richard Dreyfuss sits alone in his car on the side of the road with a newspaper sitting close by.
  • A glance at the headline tells us that an attorney named Christopher Chambers was killed in a stabbing incident.
  • Dreyfuss then becomes the adult voice of Gordon Lachance as he tells the story of the first time he saw a dead body at the age of 12.
  • In 1959 in Castle Rock, Oregon, Gordie (Wil Wheaton) spent most of his time with his friends Teddy Duchamp (Corey Feldman), Vern Tessio (Jerry O’Connell), and Chris Chambers (River Phoenix).
  • Vern arrives at their treehouse with news that his older brother found the body of Ray Brower, a local kid that had gone missing recently.
  • The old brother, Billy, and his friend Charlie have no idea that Vern overheard them talking since he was under the porch looking for a jar of pennies he had buried nine months earlier.
  • The four kids decide to tell each other’s parents that they’re camping out in Vern’s back field, but really they plan to walk out to find the body and take credit for finding him.
  • At home, as Gordie prepares for the trip, he reveals that his older brother had been recently killed in a car accident.
  • It’s clear that his brother, Denny (John Cusack), was their parents’ favorite and life has not been the same since he died.
  • Gordie meets up with Chris in town before they leave and Chris shows Gordie that he’s brought along a gun that he swiped from his dad.
  • They both thought the gun wasn’t loaded and Gordie pulls the trigger, shooting a trash can and they take off running.
  • Chris and Gordie then have the misfortune of running into Chris’ older brother Eyeball and the town’s psychotic bully, Ace Merrill (Kiefer Sutherland), who steals the Yankees cap that Denny gave Gordie before he died.
  • Chris tries to stand up to Ace and is threatened with a lit cigarette to the face if he doesn’t apologize.
  • Yeah, Ace is the kind of guy you wanna call your best friend.
  • Gordie has no choice but to let the hat go…
  • He and Chris meet up with the other guys and start walking.
  • I really don’t want to do a play by play for this one because it’s so good that I think you all need to sit down and watch it.
  • All four of the kids are great in their individual roles, but Wil Wheaton and River Phoenix are particularly great as Gordie and Chris.
  • Those two bring so much to the way they portray their characters and each even have a couple of seriously heartbreaking scenes.
  • Not because something sad happens to them, but because of the struggles that each of them are dealing with outside of this journey to see a dead body.
  • You know what? Feldman does a great job with Teddy, too.
  • That kid is super complex and disturbed and… it’s just great.
  • I’d love to say more about Jerry O’Connell’s performance, but he wasn’t given much to do with Vern.
  • And Kiefer Sutherland is the perfect villain as Ace Merrill.
  • The climax of the film comes when Ace’s gang shows up to take the body just after the kids arrived.
  • Chris and Gordie stand up to Ace and the interaction is priceless.
  • It’s a great movie.
  • If you haven’t seen it, do yourself and watch it as soon as you can carve out a couple hours.

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