Stand by Me Review
Stephen King's Novella Collection, Different Seasons from 1982 certainly has produced some classic films. From the four stories in the collection, we have been treated to The Shawshank Redemption, Apt Pupil and this film, Rob Reiner's brilliant coming of age tale, Stand By Me.
Basing their screenplay on the story, 'The Body' Raynold Gideon and Bruce A. Evans' moves the tale from King's home state of Maine to rural Oregon. The movie begins with a middle aged writer reading a local newspaper article about a local man's murder. He then proceeds to tell you the story of a particular school holiday with his three best friends. The cast at the time was full of unknown youthful actors who have all gone on to have fair to successful careers in film. Leading the cast is Wil Wheaton playing Gordie, the young idealistic writer who has recently lost his brother (John Cusack) in an automobile accident. The late River Phoenix shows what a powerhouse acting talent he was in the role of Gordie's troubled best friend, Chris. Gordie's other friends comprise of Teddy (Corey Feldman) and nervous Vern (Jerry O'Connell). Rounding out the cast are Kiefer Sutherland as the local hoodlum and Richard Dreyfuss as the narrator of the story.
A local boy has gone missing, so the four best friends decide to go and look for him and also get their name in the papers as heroes just for good measure. Vern has overheard his brother talking with some friends where the remains of the boy's body is, so they know exactly where to go. Along the way, they tell stories, smoke cigarettes and have life changing experiences. The film is possibly one of the best coming of age films of all time. Reiner's direction of his young cast is first rate and the attention to detail of 50's middle America is superb.
When watching the young cast on screen, it is sad to see that many of the fine performances they gave for some of them never materialised into massive Hollywood careers. Kiefer Sutherland is now established as Jack Bauer in 24, but for a long time he was a reliable actor cropping up in offbeat films such as Dark City and David Lynch's Twin Peaks movie aside from blockbusters like The Lost Boys. Wil Wheaton made a name for himself starring in Star Trek: The Next Generation playing Wesley Crusher. Corey Feldman certainly had a rising career after Stand By Me, popping up in The Lost Boys with Sutherland and starring with the other 'Corey', Haim, in one of my favourite 80's comedies, Licence To Drive (coming out soon on DVD). He now seems to star in dismal direct to video flops, the last time I saw in a film was Bordello of Blood a couple of years ago. Jerry O'Connell has certainly had a good career, cropping up in Jerry Maguire and cockroach comedy, Joe's Apartment. He is probably familiar to more people in his sci-fi series, Sliders. We will however, forgive him for starring in Fat Slags. Finally, River Phoenix shows us what a brilliant talent he was playing Chris. Much has been written about him, his performances in other films in particular My Private Idaho and especially his death. Remember him in the best way you can, watch him act, he would have gone on to be a film legend.
I remember seeing this film way back in the days of Betamax!! It's one of those films I always try to catch whenever it's on television. Watching it again after a long time made me realise that this is simply one of the best films of the 80's.