In a small woodsy Oregon town, a group of friends--sensitive Gordie (Wil Wheaton), tough guy Chris (River Phoenix), flamboyant Teddy (Corey Feldman), and scaredy-cat Vern (Jerry O'Connell)--are in search of a missing teena... more »ger's body. Wanting to be heroes in each other's and their hometown's eyes, they set out on an unforgettable two-day trek that turns into an odyssey of self-discovery. They sneak smokes, tell tall tales, cuss 'cause it's cool and band together when the going gets tough. When they encounter the town's knife-wielding hoods who are also after the body, the boys discover a strength they never knew they had. STAND BY ME is a rare and special film about friendship and the indelible experiences of growing up. Filled with humor and suspense, STAND BY ME is based on the novella 'The Body' by Stephen King.« less
""Stand By Me" is a classic coming of age movie about growing up and friendship and the pain of disillusionment when the adults you depend upon let you down. Highly recommended.
In this review I'll focus mostly on the relationship between the movie and the Stephen King novella it is based on, and the DVD extra material that closes the ring.
The movie "Stand By Me" was made in 1986. It is based on a novella published in 1982 and the story takes place in 1959 (movie) or 1960 (novella). But the story is timeless - the conflicts and the difficult transition from child to adult apply to every generation.
There is a lot of trivia (pop songs, slang expressions, TV shows, etc.) from 1959/1960 in the movie and the novella, but this doesn't really anchor the story to that era. Every generation has it's own trivia that is very important to that generation. But today's generation can smile at the trivia of 47 years ago and still see the parallels between that trivia and their (to them) much more wonderful trivia.
The movie is based on a novella by Stephen King called "The Body". This is one of Stephen King's best stories, and is well worth reading or, if you like audio books, listening to. The audio version lasts almost six hours and is read by Frank Muller. Highly recommended. If you'd prefer to read the story yourself then you should buy the book "Different Seasons", a collection of four Stephen King novellas including "The Body".
The movie and the novella are very similar. There are, of course, many small differences, for example the town of Castle Rock has been moved from Maine to Oregon, there is more coverage of the older juvenile delinquents and less coverage of Gordie's stories and of Gordie as an adult, the place where the bloodsuckers are encountered is different, etc., etc. The biggest difference is that in the novella Chris is the main protagonist, or hero if you like, while in the movie it is Gordie. Still, this movie is truer to the written source than most movies based on books are.
So why did Rob Reiner make these changes, and what on earth did Stephen King think of them?
Here's where the magic of DVD extra material comes in. The "Special Edition" (2000) and "Deluxe Edition" (2005) DVDs both include a 35-minute documentary "featurette" called "Walking the Tracks: The Summer of Stand By Me", which was made in 2000. Stephen King, Rob Reiner and all of the major actors in the movie (except River Phoenix, who died in 1993) participate.
In this documentary film Rob Reiner tells that he identified personally more with Gordie than Chris, and therefore decided to make the movie Gordie's story. And Stephen King says that he respected Rob Reiner's decision and thinks that "Stand By Me" was the first movie adaptation of his work that really fulfilled the spirit of the story.
Stephen King also says that many of the things that happen in "The Body" and in "Stand By Me" are things he experienced himself in his childhood. This makes the story somewhat autobiographical, with Gordie being in some ways the young Stephen King. In the novella "The Body" this is quite pronounced in that an adult Gordie is telling the story in the first person, and also tells how he's now become a successful writer of horror books.
So the bottom line is, if you like the movie then read or listen to the novella. And after you've read the novella and seen the movie, check out the DVD featurette that ties them together.
Much better sound than the Special Edition
James W. Anderson | Alpharetta, GA USA | 07/28/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I purchased the Special Edition of this movie recently and couldn't believe that the audio was monophonic. I was thus pleasantly surprised to see that in this edition of the DVD they restored the original multi-channel soundtrack. Even the casual listener will notice the difference immediately.
To my knowledge the movie itself is the same as on the Special Edition (no added or cut scenes) so I won't waste your time commenting on that. I just wanted to bring attention to the fact that the Deluxe Edition of this movie is the ONLY one any serious movie collector should consider."
Reiner's Classic Tale of Boyhood Friendship Shines
Alex Diaz-Granados | Miami, FL United States | 08/29/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Okay, I admit it. Like Rick Blaine in Casablanca, I am a "rank sentimentalist." As such, there are many movies that can bring me to tears: E.T., Summer of `42, Casablanca...no matter what era they were released or who directed them, there will always be movies that will jerk some heart-felt tears out of this mostly action-adventure film watcher.Stand By Me, Rob Reiner's 1986 bittersweet coming of age story based on Stephen King's novella The Body, is definitely one of those movies that move me. Starring Wil Wheaton (Star Trek: The Next Generation), River Phoenix (Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade), Corey Feldman (The Lost Boys), Jerry O'Connell (Sliders, Joe's Apartment) and Kiefer Sutherland (24), Stand By Me tells how a group of four boys goes into the woods in search of the body of train-struck Ray Brower, hoping to recover it before a gang led by Ace (Sutherland at his meanest, menacing best) does.Reiner, working from a well-written screenplay by Raymond Gideon and Bruce A. Evans, excellently captures King's nostalgia-tinged story's mix of drama, comedy and even a bit of horror. He coaxes very natural acting from his four main actors, particularly from Wheaton, Phoenix, and O'Connell. Even Feldman, a child actor I really did not like in other films before his career flopped, is heartbreakingly poignant as Teddy Duchamp, the son of a mentally-ill World War II veteran. Despite being scarred by his father's harsh punishments, Teddy is proud of his father's wartime service. One of the best scenes is his confrontation with the mean junkyard operator of Castle Rock, where Teddy's conflicting emotions of anger and love for his dad are summed up by his tearful yell of "My father stormed the beach at Normandy!"The heart and soul of this movie comes from the friendship between Gordie Lachance (Wheaton), the sensitive would-be writer, and Chris Chambers (Phoenix), a bright kid who seems destined for disgrace because he comes from the wrong part of Castle Rock. Chris projects a tough shell to hide his inner turmoil, while Gordie is having trouble coping with a family tragedy.Reiner shines as a director capable of mixing moments of comedy (watch for a hilarious exchange revolving around the mystery surrounding Goofy's identity -- "Mickey's a mouse, Pluto is a dog...so what's Goofy?"), drama (an encounter with an approaching train), and a wickedly gross revenge story told by Gordie involving a very large boy and a pie-eating contest. A particularly effective narration by Richard Dreyfuss (who plays the adult Gordon Lachance) adds just the right mix of wry humor and bittersweet nostalgia, and Jack Nitzsche's gentle and subtle score, with its interpolation of the classic rock 'n' roll song "Stand By Me" just heightens the poignancy of this affecting tale of boyhood friendship."
Alex Diaz-Granados | 09/04/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I'm not going to write a synopsis of the plot here or tell you how great the movie is. You already know that. If you are going to buy this movie on DVD and have never seen it, plan to watch the bonus documentary included on the new DVD release first, "Walking the Tracks," a behind-the-scenes look at the making of film as told by Rob Reiner, Stephen King, Wil Wheaton, Corey Feldman and Jerry O'Connell. You'll hear Wil explain why Gordie doesn't get his brother's Yankee cap returned, what Jerry O'Connell really thought of Kiefer Sutherland, and how Rob Reiner made two of the cast members weep during the train trestle scene! The docu footage appears to have been shot on the late 1990s or even early 2000, and it's wonderful to see these people together again (River Phoenix, who died in 1993, is not part of the documentary, but is referred to by just about everyone being interviewed).
The best part for me was watching the movie with English subtitles, which made me realize for the first time what some of the dialogue was (including some put downs my ears could never quite figure out--"wet end" and "whoremaster," among others).
But far and away, the reason you must buy this DVD is to listen to Rob Reiner's personable director's commentary as the film plays. It's an option, so you can still watch and listen to the complete movie in its original format, but if you've already memorized the scenes because you've seen this movie countless times, listen to Rob's (apparently one-take and continuous) comments about each scene. He's also very funny, and his anecdote about the scene in which Ray Brower is found by the tracks is hilarious, despite the somber tone of this section of the movie.
Other perks: the long-lost video of "Stand by Me," featuring singer Ben E. King, River Phoenix and Wil Wheaton (the song was originally a #4 hit in 1960 and was re-released in the fall of 1986, peaking at #9--Rob Reiner makes a comment about the song going to #1 both times, but he's not correct)."
Five Days Ago...
Alex Diaz-Granados | 02/04/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Five days ago, I discovered the best movie ever. Sure, I had heard people talk about it now and then, but I never really thought the idea sounded all that amazing. Then when I was going through my mother's video collection, I found this old movie with a not-so-informative cover. I turned it over to read the back, and from that moment on, I was hooked. I immediately fell in love with Chris Chambers (amazingly portrayed by River Phoenix) and Gordie LaChance (Wil Wheaton). The acting was beautiful and realistic. They *were* four friends in a little town heading off for what was, at their age, the adventure of a lifetime. To lie to their parents and head off on a two day hike to find the body of a missing child? A child their own age who had disappeared three days earlier? Who could resist? Especially the kid who everyone looked down on, who no one expected to succeed. It was his chance to prove them wrong. He *could* be a hero. As they travel to Ray Brauer's (the missing child) body, they learn more about life and each other. They bond over horrific experiences (leeches, the bridge) and friendly talks (the campfire). And when they finally find him, who should appear but the neighborhood bad boys (led by a great Keifer Sutherland), threatening to steal their glory. Again, they triumph, as expected. And when the trip is over, their small town is just a little smaller, and their lives are just a little more dull, but it was worth it. So my advice is to buy this movie. It is good for a laugh, a cry, and just about everything else."