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"Stand By Me" is a lyrical, funny coming of age tale .....,
This review is from: Stand By Me [DVD]  (DVD)
Okay, I admit it. Like Rick Blaine in Casablanca, I am a "rank sentimentalist." As such, there are many movies that can bring me to tears: E.T., Summer of '42, Casablanca...no matter what era they were released or who directed them, there will always be movies that will jerk some heart-felt tears out of this mostly action-adventure film watcher.
Stand By Me, Rob Reiner's 1986 bittersweet coming of age story based on Stephen King's novella The Body, is definitely one of those movies that move me.
Starring Wil Wheaton (Star Trek: The Next Generation), River Phoenix (Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade), Corey Feldman (The Lost Boys), Jerry O'Connell (Sliders, Joe's Apartment) and Kiefer Sutherland (24), Stand By Me tells how a group of four boys goes into the woods in search of the body of train-struck Ray Brower, hoping to recover it before a gang led by Ace (Sutherland at his meanest, menacing best) does.
Reiner, working from a well-written screenplay by Raymond Gideon and Bruce A. Evans, excellently captures King's nostalgia-tinged story's mix of drama, comedy and even a bit of horror. He coaxes very natural acting from his four main actors, particularly from Wheaton, Phoenix, and O'Connell. Even Feldman, a child actor I really did not like in other films before his career flopped, is heartbreakingly poignant as Teddy Duchamp, the son of a mentally-ill World War II veteran. Despite being scarred by his father's harsh punishments, Teddy is proud of his father's wartime service. One of the best scenes is his confrontation with the mean junkyard operator of Castle Rock, where Teddy's conflicting emotions of anger and love for his dad are summed up by his tearful yell of "My father stormed the beach at Normandy!"
The heart and soul of this movie comes from the friendship between Gordie Lachance (Wheaton), the sensitive would-be writer, and Chris Chambers (Phoenix), a bright kid who seems destined for disgrace because he comes from the wrong part of Castle Rock. Chris projects a tough shell to hide his inner turmoil, while Gordie is having trouble coping with a family tragedy.
Reiner shines as a director capable of mixing moments of comedy (watch for a hilarious exchange revolving around the mystery surrounding Goofy's identity -- "Mickey's a mouse, Pluto is a dog...so what's Goofy?"), drama (an encounter with an approaching train), and a wickedly gross revenge story told by Gordie involving a very large boy and a pie-eating contest.
A particularly effective narration by Richard Dreyfuss (who plays the adult Gordon Lachance) adds just the right mix of wry humor and bittersweet nostalgia, and Jack Nitzsche's gentle and subtle score, with its interpolation of the classic rock 'n' roll song "Stand By Me" just heightens the poignancy of this affecting tale of boyhood friendship.