on November 6, 2012
Based on a novella by Stephen King, Stand by Me tells the tale of four friends in the summer of 1959 who go in search of the body of a missing boy their own age in the thick woods surrounding their small hometown of Castle Rock. There’s the mild-mannered Gordie (Wil Wheaton), tough guy Chris (the late great River Phoenix), loose-cannon Teddy (Corey Feldman), and clumsy Vern (Jerry O’Connell). Complicating their search is the fact that the town’s toughest gang, lead by Ace Merrill (Kiefer Sutherland), is also searching for the body.
Stand by Me is a beloved 1986 film about growing up, friendship and courage that is all the more powerful for the outstanding performances of its four young lead actors. As they set out on their trek down the train-tracks they are forced to pull together and exhibit a strength they never knew they had. And when it’s all over and they emerge from the woods, they’ve discovered more about themselves, each other and the world as a whole. It’s a tale that you can tell is very close to director Rob Reiner’s heart as it is very lovingly told and offers up a great soundtrack and breathtaking scenery.
Stand by Me has never looked better and offers up great video & audio quality. Fine detail and the woodsy colors in and around the small town of Castle Rock all look especially great. Special features include a 25th anniversary picture-in-picture commentary/reunion (a Blu-ray exclusive) with director Reiner and actors Wheaton and Feldman, an audio commentary by Reiner, ‘Walking the Tracks: The Summer of Stand by Me’ documentary (37 min), and a music video (3 min).
Regardless of what year you were born or what decade you grew up in, Stand by Me is a timeless coming-of-age film that will tug at your heart and take you back to your own childhood memories. The film has never looked better and its special features should delight both new and old fans alike. Do yourself a favor and pick this one up for your collection. It’s a rare type of film in that it only gets better with time. Highest Recommendation.
on September 4, 2000
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 DVD format has the advantage of letterbox format (don't worry--you won't get a shrunk and stretched-looking movie . . . the widescreen format for this movie is superb, and it will make you toss your old VHS copy in the trash five minutes into the movie). The sound is good as it gets, and you'll also have subtitle options (watch dialogue to the flick in English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Chinese, Japanese, Tai, or Korean). Overdubbed voice options include French, Spanish, Portuguese, and of course, the original dialogue in English. 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). Some other treats round out the DVD, like bios of each star and scene selection. Don't wait another minute. Buy/rent a DVD player if you don't already have one.
on June 19, 2004
Rob Reiner's "Stand By Me" is a celebration of those youthful adventures that eventually transform into cherished memories as the years go by. It is also a touching tale centered around the strong ties of friendship and the eventual loss of innocence one experiences when one comes of age. Definitely unusual themes when you consider the original source material for the film was a work by horror-master Stephen King.
Gordie LaChance (Will Wheaton), Chris Chambers (River Phoenix), Teddy Duchamp (Corey Feldman), and Vern Tessio (Jerry O'Connell) set out one day to find the body of a missing child. They stumble into a series of adventures along their journey when they encounter a vicious dog, an oncoming train, leeches, and a group of older boys who also are searching for the body. By the time the four boys end their trek, they realize that their childhood ended during their quest and that they have taken the first steps into adulthood.
Not many films succeed in developing their characters to the point where they truly feel like flesh-and-blood individuals. However, Reiner amazingly manages to vividly define and develop the film's four young leads to the point where they start to stir up distant memories and lead you to recall certain friends you had while you were growing up. By the time "Stand By Me" ends, Gordie, Chris, Teddy, and Vern have transcend their fictional existence and have started to merge with the memories you possess of the pals you had in your youth. The coming of age aspect of the film also is emotionally powerful as it forces you to remember the exact point in your life when you ceased to be a child and moved into a new phase in life. A tip of the hat to Reiner and his young performers for creating such an engaging and nostalgic cinematic work.
on June 9, 2004
First off, let me say that the fact that this DVD is rated "R" should not discourage anyone from buying it. The contents within contain nothing more violent then Jaws 2 or Jurassic Park. The only reason that this motion picture is rated "R" is for the far from polite language within referring to rather grotesque topics. (However this same language can be easily heard in most schools and seen on public restrooms.) Besides that there is really nothing in this video that would separate it from a video like October Sky.
This video's plot line is harding a real interesting topic. It is about four boys who go on a journey to find the body of a dead kid named Ray Brower. They are doing this because they know that if they can find this kid's body (while the police cannot) that they will be kind of famous in the eyes of the fellow townspeople. (getting their names in newspapers and getting on television)
If I were rating on the plot line alone I would give it only 1 star. However, the reason that I gave the DVD four stars is because of two others great reasons. Number one, the acting was magnificient. Number two, because I felt that there was a secondary plot line that was far more interesting than the original.
I personally felt that this video/DVD was not as much about four boys finding a kid's body that was run over by a train, but a relationship between two of the boys (Chris and Gordie). Gordie had resently lost his brother in a Jeep accident or wreck. That was hard on Gordie, and it did not help that his dad (who reminded me of Adolf Hitler's father) made it quite clear that it should have been him and not his brother that died. So, to summerize it, Gordie was distraught that his brother had died, angry that his dad despised the fact that he wanted to become a writer, and angry that HE had to live in his brother's heavy masculine-athletic footsteps, while HIS were more feminine-authotorial like. (Gordie had no interest in sports.) Chris was angry that HE had to live in the footsteps of HIS older brother ("Eyeball" Chambers) who language rivals that of Fred Phelps. Chris felt that the people in the town had already made up there minds that he was no good because his brother turned out to be no good. Throughout the entire film there are examples on which Chris helps Gordie and Gordie helps Chris. However, Amazon limits reviews to 1,000 words so I can not continue with examples. As a closing thought however. If you think that the video is just a carbon copy of the book by Stephen King, think again.
on May 21, 2004
When I first heard about this movie,I just knew from the start that it was going to be good,but I never thought it was going to be such a masterpiece from beginning to end.This is undoubtedly one of the greatest coming-of-age stories of all time,which really was meant to be a horror movie based on Stephen King's book "The Body".Here's a breakdown of the movie:
1.Acting(5/5):The acting by these 4 kids is astonishing,and definitely the best part of the movie.River Phoenix,who died tragically a few years after making this movie,is the absolute best out of the 4,playing a troubled kid with a bad family and a bastard for a brother.Wil Wheaton is also one to mention,playing his dramatic scenes as if he was a veteran already!And Corey Feldman is in his only good role as pretty much a crazy kid with,as one guardkeeper said,"a loony for a ather."And,last but not least,Jerry O'Connell is completely hilarious as the fat kid(Verno).
Story(5/5):The story isn't really challenging or confusing,but that's the beauty of it.It's just 4 kids looking for a dead kid and disovering themselves along the way.Sure,it sounds stupid on paper,but you come to love it once you see the movie.And all the characters' background information is simply so realisitic and such an accurate portrayal of life,from a kid coming from a horrible family and being known as a criminal even when he is not one(Chris Chambers played by River Phoenix),to a kid who is completely ignored by his family because of his football star brother who dies(Gordo played by Wil Wheaton),even to a crazy kid with a psychopathic and abusive father(Teddy DuChamp played by Corey Feldman).
Production(4/5):The production doesn't really stand out or anything,but the producers did a very good job making the movie look like it was set in a small town.
Screenplay(5.5/5):Who can forget such unforgettable quotes such as:"TRAIN!","LEECHES!",and "So I'll see you sometime(Gordy)";"Not If I See You First(River Phoenix)"?And the one to point out is the story about Lardass(created by Gordy),also Verno is one to point,delivering each line hilariously,especially his trademark "Sincerely!"
The Verdict:This is truly a worthy coming-Of-Age classic and deserves to be part of any video or DVD collection(in this case,it's DVD!)
on March 17, 2004
4.5 stars. This is easily one of my favorite films from my teenage years. For many reasons, this film resonates with emotional nostalgia for any man who remembers their early pre-teen years, before the magic of youth began to fade with experience. That's what this film captures: the magic of being a young boy. It really doesn't matter that it's set in a different era, the nature of boys will always remain the same. One of those universal traits came under critical fire when this movie was first released. It had to do with the amount of profanity that all the main characters use. I staunchly defended the dialogue, to this day for that matter, knowing full well that when boys are alone together they are more likely to rebel against talking conventionally. Be it cursing or whatever, there is a sense of unbridled freedom when no authority figures are present to reprimand your behavior. The four lead child actors here are all excellent. Director Rob Reiner is, at least in this film, a genuine miracle worker. It is a rare film that has this many child actors with this much talent and intelligence conveying what it's like to be a kid at heart. At no time did I think they were acting beyond their years, like so many other child actors fall victim to doing. There is plenty of wit and good old-fashioned toilet humor, which is the flavor of the day with young boys; but there are also some authentic, emotional moments in the story, as well. This is a fine film that shines with great performances, charming direction from Rob Reiner, and a thoughtful story from the novella "The Body" by Stephen King. One last note concerning this DVD: there is an especially poignant featurette on the making of this movie with a final ode to the late River Phoenix. He was the James Dean of my generation, and he is greatly missed. This film is just a small part of his short legacy, and provides ample proof that he would have been one of the greatest actors ever. R.I.P.
on March 5, 2004
This special edition DVD re-release of "Stand By Me" is of generally high quality. The video presentation is true to the film's original aspect ratio (1.85:1), and is anamorphically enhanced for those with widescreen displays. Generally, the video is quite good, but it is marred slightly by some unwanted (and unneeded) edge enhancement. Fortunately, it isn't overly distracting. In every other respect the video is well done, with excellent background detail which effectively captures the beauty of the film's outdoor environments.
The audio is mono, implemented as Dolby Digital 2.0. A remix of the audio to allow for the use of the surrounds for some outdoor ambiance would not have been totally unwelcome, but what you get is true to the film's audio roots, and gets the job done.
The "special features" are excellent. There is a documentary about the making of the film that features interviews with Stephen King, Reiner, and most of the film's major cast members. It is a wonderful look at the production of the film, and one can't help but feel newfound respect for the job Reiner did in putting this film together. Reiner's commentary is good as well -- it is very conversational and makes you feel as if he is sitting in the room with you, sharing the experience of watching the film and contributing tidbits here and there relating to how certain scenes were shot, or something amusing that happened on the set, etc. Well done.
In all, this DVD represents a fantastic treatment of a wonderful film. If you are a fan of Stand By Me, do yourself a favor and pick this one up.
on January 26, 2004
As the screen lit, exposing a man sitting in a car on the countryside and a beautifully orchestrated take on B E King's classic hit, "Stand by Me", I knew I was in for something good. I really hadn't an idea of what the film might have instore for me, but it had left a good impression. As the movie rolled on, I found myself completely involved with the world of our protagonists, and caught up in every vowel spoken and every movement made. It's very rare that I find a movie so captivating, so entertaining, and so emotional. However, "Stand by Me" was one of the few films that I found very very few flaws with. The dialogue was easy to follow, the atmosphere was perfectly corresponding with the scenes, and the story was amazing. The film is about four twelve-year-old boys, like any other twelve-year-old boys in 1959, who engage on a journey they'll never forget. As the innocent, lighthearted "fat kid" Vern was looking for a lost jar of pennies under his porch, he overhears his older brother talking about a kid they found who died three days earlier. In search of stardom and becoming home-town heroes they leave home and follow the railroad tracks to where the body supposedly lies. Along the way, they face what's been eating away at each of them individually and have an emotional experience that is deeply profound to the characters. The boys face the end of their childhood by the end of the story, and come back to their town completely changed. This is one of the greatest movies I have ever seen.
on January 22, 2004
What does it seem to be? A slice of sentimentalism from the mid 80s spiced with adventurism and bawdy humor, a look back at an idyllic summer in the 1950s. It IS these things, but it's much more. It's the gold standard for the coming-of-age film and one of the most important movies ever made.
Our lives are marked by climaxes including birth, puberty, marriage, and death. These are romanticized, surrounded by ritual and sacrament because they're too real to see in the raw--as soiling by blood or sperm, as radical irrevocable change. Pubertal transformation is particularly subject to lush romanticizing. Puberty is a time of confusion, the intrusion of sex, identity in flux. For boys, there's the added challenge of achieving manhood, a protean slippery status which is forever in question.
And so, for this question, there is the quest. Four boys walk railroad tracks in rural Oregon hoping for a glimpse of another boy their age who's been killed by a train. On the way, they tell gross-out stories, muse about the pop culture of the 50s (Mighty Mouse, Pez, Paladin), argue, fight, and make up.
Pubertal boys create a treehouse culture, a separate world from the world of females and the world of adults. It's full of boasts, smokes, and card games. It's marked by looking for ways to test themselves in the big bad world. So when Vern Tessio calls the quartet to adventure with the macabre question "You guys wanna see a dead body?" his peers are game.
"Stand by Me" moves a couple degrees from innocence to experience. The idyllic 1950s move into the turbulent 60s. The sweet-tempered 12-year-old becomes the surly adolescent. Languorous summer tenses into autumn, smoky and chilled. But not just yet! Mirages curdle as literate Gordie, leaderly Chris, and two lesser friends hum 50s classics and walk the tracks toward junior high and their inevitable separation. This is the last golden summer before the fall.
This is a movie of sunlight and leaves, of 12-year-old buddies and their nonchalant homoeroticism, of teary heart-to-hearts they will never have again as men, of incipient heterosexual awakening spurred by Annette Funicello's ..., of meeting Death (his sockets full of flies), of making jokes (the bawdier the better), of leaving town for the woods, of dangers from junkyard dogs, angry fathers, delinquent gangs, and leeches.
This is the greatest gay film of all time, not "Philadelphia" or "Parting Glances" or "Burnt Money." The tenderness between Gordie and Chris is so natural, so easy, because it occurs in a world not yet policed by the taboos of adult society and not yet hardened by requirements for macho display. We get arms thrown around shoulders, hugs, and tears from these youths and we wonder if growing into manhood is an illness to be procrastinated.
"I never had friends again like I did when I was 12. ... does anyone?"
on November 11, 2003
It is a rare commodity in the film industry to come across a movie which depicts the process of growing up and the bonds that unite friends in such a heartbreakingly realistic fashion. "Stand By Me", starring Wil Wheaton, River Phoenix, Corey Feldman, and Jerry O'Connell, is just that and more, spiced with humor, suspense, and not to mention terrific performances by its remarkable cast. Set in the small Oregon town of Castle Rock, it tells the tale of four friends Gordie Lachance (Wheaton), Chris Chambers (Phoenix), Teddy DuChamp (Feldman), and Vern Tessio (O'Connell), and the adventures and experiences they share during the summer of 1959. After hearing of a teenager missing in the Oregon countryside, they go in search of his body, and the approval of their hometown and each other. Little to their knowledge, Castle Rock's token hoodlums, the Cobras, led by a ruthless Ace, are also out for the body, and will stop at nothing to take it from them. The unforgettable journey brings them closer together, and reveals a strength and sense of trust they never knew they posessed.
Probably one of the most beautiful things about this movie is the chemistry all of the characters seem to have together on screen, as well as the individual talents each bring. Under the direction of Rob Reiner, each actor brings a different quality to their performances, and coaxes the traits of their characters with a natural ease. River Phoenix especially stands out. This being one of his earliest films, you can almost taste the raw and truly amazing ability and innocense he has within him, only adding to the sadness of his being taken from us too soon. Overall, "Stand By Me" is one of my personal favorites, and not to mention one of the classic first coming-of-age movies. And it has still, after all these years, set a high standard for films to come.