Monday, 8 August 2016


“I spent my whole childhood wishing I were older and now I'm spending my adulthood wishing I were younger.” - Ricky Schroder

We watched an old favourite movie last weekend, one which we had watched more than 25 years ago, but it was watched again with pleasure and great satisfaction. It was the 1986 Rob Reiner movie “Stand by Me” with a screenplay by Raynold Gideon, based on the novella by Stephen King. It stars Wil Wheaton, River Phoenix, Corey Feldman, Jerry O'Connell, Kiefer Sutherland and Richard Dreyfuss.

The film is set in Castlerock, Oregon in the Summer of 1959. Four 12 year-old boys, Gordie, Chris, Teddy and Vern, are fast friends and as boys at that age do are seeking adventures and new experiences. When they learn of the general location of the body of a local boy who has been missing for several days and presumed to be killed by a train, they set off into woods to see it. Unfortunately for the four friends, the town’s bullies are also out to find the body for the same reason. This will lead to all sorts of trouble and it will also lead to the four boys discovering a lot about each other and themselves.

The film is about the pain and pleasure of growing up, it’s about the blessings of friendship and the heartache of loss – loss of people, loss of the sense of wonder, loss of happy times and loss of innocence. It looks at what makes us who we are and how our family, friends and foes can shape our character and so determine how we become the sort of adult we are. It is a coming-of-age movie and it is filled with nostalgia and the ache of how good some things used to be, even if they didn't feel good at the time we lived them.

The casting in this movie is inspired and every actor does a great job in bringing to life King’s detailed and rich novella. The leader of the four friends is Chris Chambers (River Phoenix), a strong boy who has to deal with how unfairly he’s been treated. Gordie Lachance (Will Wheaton) idolises Chris and he too has to deal with a “situation” at home since his brother died. Teddy Duchamp (Corey Feldman) is the renegade revolutionary whose war-wearied father has influenced him greatly. Vern Tessio (Jerry O’Connell) is the plump and nervous “tag-a-long friend” who plays an important role in the story. The leader of the older bullies is Ace Merrill (Kiefer Sutherland), who plays a villainous role with great aplomb. An older Gordie (Richard Dreyfuss) narrates the film and we see here perhaps King’s autobiographical ruminations.

Running at 89 minutes, the film packs a lot of action, many a memorable scene, some wonderful dialogue, humour, poignancy and drama. This is a wonderful movie about kids, for kids, but not only for kids. It is a great example of how a movie can be made for children without patronising them and without assuming they are senseless idiots. If you haven't seen it, go find it and watch it!

1 comment:

  1. I LOVE this movie! A classic. I make sure the kids in my life all see it. Life and childhood as it was back then. A wonderful film about friendship.