Stand By Me
Release Year: 1986
Director: Rob Reiner
Screenwriters: Raynold Gideon, Bruce A. Evans, Stephen King (novella “The Body”)
Starring: Wil Wheaton, River Phoenix, Corey Feldman, Jerry O’Connell, Kiefer Sutherland, Richard Dreyfuss, John Cusack, Casey Siemaszko, Gary Riley, Bradley Gregg
Rating: 1 Oscar nomination: Best Adapted Screenplay. 2 Golden Globes nominations: Best Motion Picture – Drama. Best Director.
In a small town, the four friends Gordie (Wil Wheaton), Chris (River Phoenix), Teddy (Corey Feldman), and Vern (Jerry O’Connell) learn the whereabouts of the body of a missing teenager. They set out on a two day trek to find the body in order to return as heroes.
When it comes to Stephen King adaptations there are two go-to directors. Frank Darabont who is responsible for The Shawshank Redemption (1994) and The Green Mile (1999), and Rob Reiner who directed Misery (1990) and Stand By Me (1986). With Stand By Me Reiner (The Princess Bride, 1987) made a truly successful adaptation of a Stephen King story, and this film, and later Misery, had such a positive effect on his career that he named his production company after the film’s fictional setting, Castle Rock. Reiner seems the perfect fit for the director’s chair; the balance between funny, dramatic, tender, and heartfelt moments is perfect. Naturally, Reiner is given a great (and Oscar nominated) script to work with and is blessed with perfect casting. The four friends are played by something as rare as very talented young actors. Feldman (The Lost Boys, 1987) and O’Connell (Jerry Maguire, 1996) fill the two more simplistic parts, whereas Wheaton (Star Trek: Nemesis, 2002) as the sensitive Gordie and Phoenix (Running on Empty, 1988) as the troubled leader of the gang portrays fully fleshed out characters with unusual maturity for their age. The story is a bittersweet tale steeped in 1950’s style and feel. The four friends are at odds with the local gang The Cobras led by a wonderfully nasty Kiefer Sutherland (The Three Musketeers, 1993), the gang of gang that cuts their gang name into eachothers upper arms and plays chicken on a country road. Stand by Me is a framenarrative and Richard Dreyfuss (Jaws, 1975) appears as a grown up Gordie writing Down the story and lends his soothing voice to the story. All set to the tunes of the late 1950’s, Stand by Me is a wonderfully story about friendship, parents and their children, and growing up. Unmissable!
Although not referenced in the film, the novella on which it is based is interconnected with other Stephen King stories as is the case with most of his work. Kiefer Sutherland’s character Ace Merrill reappears in Needful Things; the four boys mention Shawshank Prison known from “Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption“; the dog Chopper is compared to the titular dog in Cujo; and Corey Feldman’s character Teddy Duchamp first appears in Carrie in which he runs a gas station.
Picture Copyright: Sony