Rockwood Cinema Review: Stand By Me (1986)

Rating: /  5
Length: 1h 31m
Rated: R
Best time to watch: morning, afternoon, early evening

Looking for a dead body is not a popular outdoor pastime but watching a movie about it is.

Travelling on foot through the great outdoors, in the company of your best friends; camping out while regaling each other with stories by firelight; overcoming obstacles; tracking down a dead body in the forest. All things I know we can all relate to except for maybe… camping. An undeniable 80s classic, Stand By Me (1986), as I remembered it, stood out as this quaint film about an adventure in the great outdoors. But how does it stand the test of time? Set your monologues to internal as we review this seminal outdoor classic, Stand By Me.

The story, narrated by Richard Dreyfuss, follows a group of four young friends set in the late 1950’s as they travel through the wilderness in pursuit of the body of a missing boy. Ironically, and more profoundly, they end up finding themselves. Stand By Me features a lengthy cast of soon to be 80’s stars, including Wil Wheaton (as the protagonist, Gordie), River Phoenix (as Chris), Corey Feldman (as Teddy), and Jerry O’Connell (as Vern) as the group of friends . Also, Canadian Keifer Sutherland plays the bully and leader of the rival gang.

Directed by Rob Reiner (Princess Bride, Spinal Tap) and based on the novella, “The Body” by Stephen King it really reflects both “camps”: the sense of adventure, the bonding of friends, but a real sense of life and death is always looming. Which is why, watching it now, I can say Stand By Me is not as “quaint” a film as I remember. This is not necessarily because of the language, which no doubt earned it its R-rating. The dialogue, here, among juvenile boys is accurate, if not frank. You will hear: “piss”,”asshole”,”fuck”,”fag”, and “why don’t you go home and f*ck your mother some more.” and a whole wide range of colourful language. You know, how kids talk when parents aren’t around. Except kids these days probably have better sense not to use the word “fag”.

Pinky swear…Stand By Me is a good movie.

However, it’s much more than swear words and juvenile antics that makes Stand By Me not as ‘rose coloured’ a film as I remember. Between all the leeches and blueberry barf, it deals with heavy subjects we all can relate to: friendship, life and death, war (as a subtext with the death of Gordie’s brother), broken homes, physical and emotional abuse and the cycle of violence. However, it is not so serious that it can’t be enjoyed amongst friends and is a pleasure to watch.

Highly recommended, it’s perfect rainy or lazy day watching at the cottage and definitely fits in the category of great outdoor movies.

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