A sleeper hit when released in 1986, Stand by Me
is based on Stephen King's novella "The Body" (from the book Different Seasons
); but it's more about the joys and pains of boyhood friendship than a morbid fascination with corpses. It's about four boys ages 12 and 13 (Wil Wheaton, River Phoenix, Corey Feldman, Jerry O'Connell) who take an overnight hike through the woods near their Oregon town to find the body of a boy who's been missing for days. Their journey includes a variety of scary adventures (including a ferocious junkyard dog, a swamp full of leeches and a treacherous leap from a train trestle), but it's also a time for personal revelations, quiet interludes and the raucous comradeship of best friends. Set in the 1950s, the movie indulges an overabundance of anachronistic profanity and a kind of idealistic, golden-toned nostalgia (it's told in flashback as a story written by Wheaton's character as an adult, played by Richard Dreyfuss). But it's delightfully entertaining from start to finish, thanks to the rapport among its young cast members and the timeless, universal themes of friendship, family and the building of character and self-esteem. Kiefer Sutherland makes a memorable teenage villain and look closely for John Cusack in a flashback scene as Wheaton's now-deceased and dearly missed brother. A genuine crowd-pleaser, this heartfelt movie led director Rob Reiner to even greater success with his next film, The Princess Bride
. --Jeff Shannon
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 teenager'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.