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"I never had any friends later on like the ones I had when I was twelve. Jesus, does anyone?"—The Writer
Stand by Me is a 1986 Coming of Age film directed by Rob Reiner based on the novella The Body by Stephen King. Set in the fictional Castle Rock, Oregon (Maine in the original story) in 1959, the film is told through the recollections of the main character, Gordie Lachance, now a freelance writer.
The twelve-year-old Gordie (played by TV's Wil Wheaton) and his three friends journey into the woods near their home to look at the body of a boy named Ray Brower, who was struck by a train while picking berries. Through the boys' misadventures and conversations, the viewer learns about each character's personality. Each of the boys, for varying reasons, lives in the shadow of their fathers and older brothers. Gordie's talent for storytelling (as illustrated by his improvised short story "The Revenge of Lard-Ass Hogan") pegs him as the most likely of the four to have a promising future.
The film contrasts the four main characters, who are depicted as well-meaning and relatively virtuous, with a gang of bullies called the "Cobras", who are led by local hood "Ace" Merrill (Kiefer Sutherland).
This Movie Contains Examples Of:
- Abusive Parents: Teddy's ear is disfigured due to his father's pressing it down on a hot stove in a drunken rage. Chris's father is also violently abusive and Gordie's is emotionally abusive.
- All of the Other Reindeer: Chris, and his family, are shunned and put down by most of the town.
- Angry Guard Dog: The legendary Chopper, who is said to be trained to attack with anatomical precision.
- Author Stand In: Gordie Lachance, the sensitive and imaginative boy Stephen King used to be.
- Berserk Button: Teddy goes ballistic after Milo Pressman calls his father a "looney".
- Beware of Vicious Dog: Subverted.
- Big Brother Instinct: Chris, towards Gordie.
- Big Brother Mentor: Denny was this to Gordie.
- Bittersweet Ending
- Boring Return Journey: Granted, they used a rough path on the main journey.
- Butt Monkey: Vern.
- Chekhov's Gun: Literally. The handgun that Chris shows Gordie before the boys start their trip is forgotten until Ace and his gang show up and Gordie(movie)/Chris(book) uses it to scare them off.
- Not quite. The kids each brandish the pistol when they take turns keeping watch at night.
- Dawson Casting: Averted. All the boys are the same age as Their characters or at least very close (River Phoenix was fifteen but looked younger) as were the older boys.
- Dies Wide Open: The late Ray Brower is found by the boys this way. They cover his face with debris.
- Dysfunction Junction: This film cracks the mask of the seemingly picture-perfect and wholesome Everytown, America of the 1950s open with a baseball bat.
- Enforced Method Acting: Wil Wheaton has written several times on his experiences making the movie. In one scene that involved the boys running from a train, Wheaton and Jerry O'Connell didn't look scared enough, so Reiner started screaming at them to make them cry. Afterwards, he felt terrible about it and comforted both of them. And to ensure that the child actors really looked intimidated by his character, Kiefer Sutherland supposedly bullied them in real life (although Wheaton doesn't recall it happening to him). The scene with the leeches in Wheaton's hand and...other places, however, was not real.
- Reiner also asked River Phoenix to think about the biggest moment an adult had let him down when he had to cry during the campfire scene. He got very emotional and Reiner comforted him for long afterwards, but it paid off: The take was by far the best and the one used in the final film.
- Everybody Smokes: They're 12, but all of the main four smoke. Even the generally wholesome lead, and the timid chubby one.
- The Fifties
- Four-Temperament Ensemble
- Framing Device/Nostalgic Narrator: The Writer (aka the adult Gordie, played by Richard Dreyfuss) recalls and narrates the events of the film after learning that Chris was stabbed to death while trying to break up a fight at a restaurant.
- Free-Range Children
- Furry Confusion: The boys express confusion that both Goofy and Pluto appear to be dogs.
- Gang of Bullies
- Girly Run: Used by Wil Wheaton as an acting technique.
- Groin Attack: If there are worse places on the human body to find a leech, we can't think of them. No wonder Gordie faints.
- "Chopper, sic balls!"
- Hey, It's That Guy!. Quato wished Gordy died instead of Denny.
- I'll Kill You!: Said by Teddy to Milo Pressman, and later by Gordie to Ace Merrill.
- Instant Leech Just Fall in Water
- Jerkass: Teddy Duchamp, Milo, and Ace's gang.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Chris Chambers.
- Karma Houdini: Ace and His gang unfortunately.
- The Load / The Millstone: Vern, especially on the Railroad Tracks of Doom.
- "Mister Sandman" Sequence: The entire soundtrack. Lollipop, lollipop...
- Nightmare Sequence: In The Body, Gordie dreams that Vern and Teddy drag Chris into water and drown him.
- Oh Crap: "TRAAAAAIN!"
- Parental Abandonment: Only the hopelessly naive Verne has any semblance of a happy family.
- Although he does have a jerkass older brother.
- Pinky Swear: Chris really really didn't know the gun was loaded.
- Precision F-Strike: Sorta. He doesn't ACTUALLY say a swear, but the line is so spot-on that it FEELS like one of these.
Gordie: "Suck my fat one, you cheap dime-store hood!"
- Also see Your Mom below.
- Railroad Tracks of Doom: The bridge.
- Real Song Theme Tune: Ben E. King's classic actually made the Top 10 chart all over again thanks to its use in the film.
- Road Movie
- Sadist Teacher
- Seinfeldian Conversation: Half the conversations the boys have.
Vern: Do you think Mighty Mouse could beat up Superman?
Teddy: What are you, cracked?...Mighty Mouse is a cartoon. Superman is a real guy.
- Space Whale Aesop: The book definitely has this. Don't go looking for dead bodies or you will acquire a death curse. But then, the book The Body was written by Stephen King. The film Stand by Me would cause you to forget that it is based on a book written by the horror master himself.
- Spared by the Adaptation: Vern and Teddy. Vern dies in a house fire in the book, and Teddy kills himself and others by driving drunk.
- The Storyteller: Gordie.
- Totally Radical: Averted. Both King and Reiner grew up in the period in which it was set, giving Them knowledge of it and They realised that young kids tend to curse like sailors as They do here.
- Treehouse of Fun: The boys hang out in one of these at the beginning of the film.
- Troll: Milo when he taunts Teddy about his dad being a "loony".
- True Companions:A quintessential example.
- The Unfavorite: Gordie's parents never show much affection to him, preferring Gordie's older brother. In flashbacks, it shows they didn't pay much attention to him, anyways. As it is, Denny (the brother) was the one who paid the most attention to him.
- Vomit Chain Reaction: The "Lard-Ass" story.
- Vomit Indiscretion Shot: The "Lard-Ass" story.
- "Well Done, Son" Guy: Gordie desperately wants his father's love and not to feel like His father hates him.
- We Will Meet Again: Ace says this after Gordie pulls the gun on him.
- While it's not depicted in the film, King's original story has Ace and his gang giving each of the boys a No-Holds-Barred Beatdown after they return to town.
- What the Hell, Hero?: While Ace has no problem threatening kids Gordie's age with knives, he thinks Gordie holding him and his friends at gunpoint is taken things too far.
'Ace: We're not gonna forget this, if that's what you're thinking. This is big time baby.
- Where Are They Now
- ~Why Couldn't You Be Different?~: Gordie's parents prefer his brother the football star, and when the brother dies in a car crash they lament that it wasn't Gordie instead.
- The "You Should Have Died Instead" factor is only implied in a dream sequence. True, they both criminally ignore Gordie after the accident, but they never go that far.
- You Know I'm French, Right? At the beginning of the movie, Chris, Teddy, and Gordie are sitting in their tree-house, playing cards, when Chris decides to tell a joke.
Chris: How do you know if a Frenchman has been in your back yard?
Teddy: Hey, I'm French, okay?
Chris: Your garbage cans are empty and your dog's pregnant.
*Chris and Gordie laugh*
Teddy: Didn't I just say I was French?
- Your Mom: Lampshaded by the adult Gordie's narration, in which he comments that "finding new and disgusting ways to insult a friend's mother was always held in high regard." Also played straight:
Chris: Why don't you go home and fuck your mother some more?
Ace: [pulls out a knife] You're dead.
- Gordie pulls out a nice one to smack a children's rhyme in the face.
Gordie: Shut up.
Chris, Teddy, and Vern, in unison: I don't shut up! I grow up! And when I look at you, I throw up! AACCKK!
Gordie: And then your mother comes and licks it up.