Monday, November 17, 2014

Movie Review #46: Stand By Me

Clearly it's movie season. Four of my past five posts were movie reviews, and here's another one. Expect another one tomorrow. Movies are a great way to get through otherwise mindless tasks, and now is the time at work when I finally gravitate toward mailroom tasks when I can due to the holidays.

Anyway, Stand By Me is an iconic movie, yet much like Total Recall I've only seen bits and pieces. It's on Netflix now, though, so I got to watch it the whole way through.

Short review: there's a reason this movie is iconic. It's a movie about boys figuring themselves out, and it's as touching as it is adventurous.


A group of boys in a small town decide to go searching for the dead body of a missing boy.


This movie reminded me of a lot of the things I want to explore in this game I want to make: kids building friendships together and dealing with their home lives via a seemingly unrelated adventure.

First, we have Wil Wheaton's character, aka Stephen King's author insert character, who is apparently the only intelligent, non-troublemaker in the group. His popular, likable brother had died recently, and he's forced to deal with both that loss and the disappointment of his father, who valued Wheaton's brother's football abilities far more than Wheaton's writing ability.

Having grown up in a place where physical ability is certainly valued highly and bookishness is seen as weird, I can certainly relate to Wheaton's character. Early on, my friends were similarly rowdy, outdoorsy, and altogether different than me, and much like Wheaton's character I second-guessed the value of my intelligence and temperament. And, just as River Phoenix's character did for Wheaton's character, one of my friends set me straight early on and told me to value those parts of myself. And, in a way, having someone tell me to value my own intelligence made it clear to me that those others were intelligent as well, in their own way.

Phoenix's character is the most tragic of the crew, though, and it was his plight that touched me the most. A kid born to a family with a bad reputation, doomed to follow in their footsteps, and betrayed by the adults he trusted, when this otherwise strong, noble kid broke down I was deeply affected.

The other two kids mostly felt like backdrops. The one crazy kid with the violent father certainly reminded me of some of my more animated friends, but though he has a couple of intense moments it doesn't feel like he's entirely explored. Which is fine, since we don't need to explore every kid fully, and the kid certainly felt like a three-dimensional character anyway.

Then we have the final kid--the fat one, who eventually went on to play Joe from Joe's Apartment. Here, he's the pathetic one--the butt of the other kids' jokes, the coward, and the one that's just kinda dumb. He doesn't have much to explore, it seems; he's the one who's just happy to have friends, no matter how they treat him.

The movie has many scenes you'll never forget, most of which have been parodied one way or another: being chased across the bridge by a train, the leeches, and, of course, the climax against the older boys. If you haven't seen this movie before, when you watch it you'll no doubt suddenly understand a lot of the pop culture that has since referenced it.

The movie doesn't feel like an 80s movie. In an era of glam and effects, this movie felt real and personal. It's a charming movie that deserves its fame.

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