March 29, 2011

Movie Review: Stand By Me

I get a feed on Facebook on the movie Stand By Me (it is celebrating 25 years; really has it been that long?). I sit and think about why I love movies like this and I conclude that it is because they're sort of  "coming of age" themes and well I just have a soft spot for them. I also happen to like this movie because it is a Stephen King story from The Body--but without horror and gore--and probably because I saw so much of myself in each of those kids and their personalities:

I could certainly identify with Vern, who is the shy, socially inept kid who was picked on and made fun of---Has anyone seen how well Jerry O'Connel grew up and very much outgrew the Vern character? can I get a grrrrr?  LOL. I probably wanted to identify with Teddy Duchamp, eccentric and in a world of his own fantasy;  who really knows all the craziness that went on in his family that caused him function in a care-free life in spite of his moments of crisis--I think Cory Fieldman is still living in a Teddy world, but that's just me.

I seriously wanted to be more like Chris Chambers, seemingly level-headed; serious enough, yet probably the one with the most street smarts of the bunch. He'd probably be the one who I would look up the most and--well, I'm going there--have the biggest crush on--I always wonder what would River Phoenix be like if he were alive today? BUT the character who I identified the most with was Gordy LaChance; maybe because he was the narrator and we got to hear his "inner-most" thoughts, the bookish, never will live to up his dad's expectations, ends up pushing Vern off the train track to save their lives; great story-teller, ends up with the leech in his underpants and faints...yet human enough to have Chris tell him his deepest fears, and finally standing up to the biggest thug Ace. Yeah the movie is supposed to make you identify with Gordy, so it did! I think Richard Dryfuss says it best at the end of the movie: "They were the best friends anyone could have or has had growing up" and that part always makes me cry--remember I'm a softy, work with me here!!

I think this movie and others like it should be required viewing for teenagers. In fact I showed it to the kids at church once when I was the Young Men's president (I did warn them about the F-bombs, it wasn't like they weren't saying it themselves) and it got me into a little trouble with the bishop and a parent or two back then, yet it was very much worth it. I don't know if everyone's lives growing up are similar to this movie; it makes me think that I certainly wouldn't allow my kid to roam through valleys, lakes, train tracks overnight--(God forbid not having a phone signal) but then again in the story their parents didn't know what they were up to either. This is probably an example of what might not be something so desirable, yet kids go through one way or another in their development.

Needless to say, this is one of my all-time favorite movies. I love watching it and it never gets old. Sure, many of us may not have had a dead-body scavenger hunt, or outran a train, or swam with leeches but I suppose we all have our own coming of age stories. I probably have to make some time to think what mine was and leave it for another blog posting...anyone care to share theirs in the meantime?


  1. I love that movie, too. Especially the "Lard Ass" story inside the movie, though I hated when they actually started puking.

    Coming of age story, huh? That's pretty deep. I'm going to think about it and come back. Can you come of age at 26? Because that's when my life veered off the course I thought it was on - only to find that the new road was so much better than the old one.

  2. Wow. One of my favorite movies of all time. I remember being affected very deeply by it, especially by the relationship between Gordy and Chris. I also remember being heart broken when it got to the part about Chris' future life.

    I can't honestly say that I had a single event like their little odyssey. Rather, I had a series of events over the course of my teenage years. Friendships and trips and tragedies that Stand By Me reminded me of.

    Amazing how each of the four main characters (and Ace - Keifer Sutherland! - for that matter) had at least modestly successful acting careers after that movie.

    Great post. A walk down memory lane.

  3. Will Wheaton, who played Gordy actively writes and blogs. I followed his blogs for a while a couple of years ago, but then I sort of dropped out. He has some interesting perspectives on various issues. I also think it ironic that he turned out to be a writer because Gordy was such, as a "teller of stories" in the film.