Quick Hit: Beautifully capturing boyhood friendships, the angst of losing a loved one, and the pains and joys of being an outsider.
If there is one thing good old Uncle Stevie knows how to write, it’s boyhood friendships. It’s something we see over and over in his books, and often times it hinges on it. There’s obviously one of his strongest childhood friendship books, It but a lot of his short stories, like “The Body”. It tells the story of a group of boys who discover, you guess it, a body. It’s a harrowing tale, one that was adapted into a movie and directed by Rob Reiner.
The cast is stellar, including a young Kiefer Sutherland and a young John Cusack (and they’re side characters). The true stars are the leads, which includes River Phoenix, Cory Feldman, Wil Wheaton, and Jerry O’Connell. Each one is perfectly placed in his role – for example, Wheaton is the brainy storyteller, searching for a way to fit in with his family after the loss of his brother. Feldman gives a really emotional turn in a scene where we find out more about his father and why he seems so obsessed with glory and the war. O’Connell does a great job lightening some heavier moments, but Phoenix really carries the load of the movie. The scene at the campfire when he explains what it is like to be let down by an adult is something that every child has to realize – adults are just as crappy as the rest of us.
It’s with delicate grace that Reiner handles these scenes, all while allowing us to love the characters more. It’s not hard, especially when you used to run around in a group just like this. I can remember the days swimming in water we shouldn’t, and walking way past the allowable range that we should have. But that’s part of being a kid – you need to explore. The characters are so relatable that you can easily imprint people from your own life onto them.
Reiner also does a good job at making this what it is – an adventure. The boys spin some yarns along the way, along with a variety of pop culture questions – What is Goofy? Who would win, Superman or Mighty Mouse? – that we have probably all come across variants of at least once. There is also a tremendous sense of movement while the boys are moving, which is helped along by the fact that there are so many shots of the boys moving.
This movie has a heart that is really deep, and ends with one of the best lines in movies, “I never had any friends later on like the ones I had when I was twelve. Jesus, does anyone?”
Have truer lines ever been spoken? I’m giving Stand By Me a “A-“.
For more on this movie check out IMDB.
"All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy"