Friday, September 17, 2010

Stand By Me: A Classic Review

This post was written by Grump from The Grumpy Old Man, the winner of this week's WHO AM I?  and our latest CIN-OB SUPREME!


Stand By Me (1986) is one of the first movies I remember being attached to as a kid. If you haven’t seen it (shame on you), it’s about four kids who embark on a quest to find a dead body. This is pretty much guaranteed to make a young boy want to watch it, yet at the same time I didn’t really appreciate most of what made it great. I mean, try getting a five year old to explain why “Suck my fat one, you cheap, dime store hood” is funny.

There are some scenes that are great no matter how old you are. The train dodge makes me tense every time, even though the train has not hit them in any one of the previous 127 times I’ve seen it. Interesting side note: Director Rob Reiner actually had some trouble getting the four kids to appear appropriately upset at the idea of being chased down by a train, so he proceeded to yell at them about how they were wasting the entire crew’s time and started rolling the cameras once he had them ready to cry.

Other things in the movie, though, have only really affected me as I’ve gotten older. While most people talk about River Phoenix’s final scene as Chris Chambers as he fades away to the narration of his death, his best work for me is when he admonishes Gordy (Wil Wheaton) for wanting to skip advanced level classes in order to stay with his friends. In a lesser actor’s hands, watching a teenager try to be paternal could be downright painful to watch, but Phoenix makes me believe that he’s taken it upon himself to be this kid’s father even though they’re the same age.

Then there are those things that were great to watch as a kid but are great on a different level as an adult. Watching Gordy pull a gun on Ace (Kiefer Sutherland) was great the first time I saw it, but when you realize the balls it really took to do that to a guy who seems perfectly capable of manslaughter it makes you appreciate it a bit more. This is only magnified when you take into account that in the novella written by Stephen King, Ace actually does catch up to them later and beats the living shit out of them.

I realize that this probably wasn’t a movie I should have been watching at 5 years old, but Stand By Me has really stuck with me through every stage of my life. If you’re a dude and you haven’t seen this movie yet, you really need to. Even if you’re not a dude, I can pretty much guarantee that something will connect with you. As proof, I present the scene that you can’t ignore if you ever talk about Stand By Me: Gordy’ campfire story.


KeLLy aNN said...

I always hated that about Chris, that he died like that. Especially after i was so pissed off with the storyline about the missing money.
How sad in reality we never got to see River's full potential

Dan said...

Great, Great, GREAT film! One of my all time faves and one I can return to time and time again for a pick-me-up.