Monday, 5 April 2010

Film Review: STAND BY ME (1986)

Director: Rob Reiner
Running time: 85 mins (approx)
Certificate (UK): 15

UK Release Date: 13th March 1987

Watched on DVD Monday 5th April 2010.


Surprisingly, until today, 23 years after its release, I had never seen this film. I’ve seen many references to it in various TV shows and I’ve seen many reviews, but it always escaped my attention, until today. I’ve been off work for a while and decided to try and fit in a film a day for 10 days. Today was the last day and due to family commitments time was a little short, so decided to put this one in the DVD player. I’m really glad I did, it’s a little dated, but even so it’s a really great film. It’s based on a novella called ‘The Body’ by Stephen King, whose work I admire, and it’s set in Oregon in the 1950’s.

A group of four boys, Gordie Lachance, Chris Chambers, Teddy Duchamp and Vern Tessio hear of the whereabouts of the body of another missing boy, Ray Brower. They decide it would be cool if they went and found the body so they could return it to the family and become heroes. The only problem was it was about thirty miles away along the railway tracks. They arrange with their parents to be away for a night and set off the same day. Gordie is a sensitive type who had lost his big brother, Denny, six months previous. They were close and he missed him. Chris was the leader of the group and he had been in trouble at school for stealing the milk money. Teddy’s father had been on the beaches in Normandy and was suffering from shell shock. He had recently turned violent on Teddy and was now in an institution. Vern was overweight and not the brightest of the bunch, but seemed to fit in anyway. As these four set off they are unaware that a rival gang of older boys led by Ace Merrill also have plans to find the body, but these guys have cars and are really mean. I won’t say any more, don’t want to give too much away.

As I said at the beginning, this film looks slightly dated, but I think that’s more to do with the quality of the film stock and the fact the soundtrack is in mono. What really struck me was the quality of the acting, truly great performances from all four of the leads, Wil Wheaton as Gordie Lachance, River Phoenix as Chris Chambers, Corey Feldman as Teddy Duchamp and Jerry O'Connell as Vern Tessio. Also an honourable mention must go to Kiefer Sutherland who is quite intimidating as Ace Merrill.

Of course there are a lot of fifties songs in the soundtrack, including the title song. It’s a bit before my time, but the music fitted the mood really well. Over all it’s a really excellent film with some great performances, particularly from Wil Wheaton and River Phoenix. Although slightly dated for technical reasons I highly recommend this one.

My score: 8.5/10

IMDb Site:
Official Site: N/A

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