Stand By Me

October 16, 2011
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Let me start it off by staying I really don’t like Stephen King. Actually, let me make it a little clearer. I don’t like Stephen King in live action. Don’t get me wrong, I think Misery is a really great movie. And though I think it is pretty silly, I can’t say anything that bad about The Shining. But on the opposite end of the spectrum, you have movies and mini-series’ like It – The Langoliers and The Tommyknockers, which though I am sure are great books, translated horribly to film. (Though I would still recommend It for the fact that it has Tim Currie in a clown suit. If you haven’t see the scene where he’s in the library – watch it, you’ll get a laugh even if you haven’t watched the whole mini-series.) That being said my favourite Stephen King motion picture, funnily enough, happens to be the one which has almost no connection to horror.

Stand By Me, the story of four young boys going to find a dead body, is probably one of the best movies I’ve seen in a very long time. One of the reasons I loved this movie so much, is probably the fun of trying to guess which of the boys you are. Often in movies I find that the child actors are just so bland you can’t relate to them. But in this movie, and in other movies such as The Goonies, The Sandlot and even recent movies such as Super 8, the characters are so relatable and so unbelievably real that I think anyone can see themselves or someone they know as these characters. The characters themselves, Gordy, Chris, Teddy and Vern, apart from being hilarious, are probably the most realistic depiction of young boys I’ve ever seen in my life. They look like kids, they talk like kids, and I don’t just mean the way they talk; I mean literally every conversation they have I remember from my childhood. There is a scene in the movie where they start discussing what kind of animal Goofy is supposed to be and I started cracking up because I actually had that conversation three times growing up. Eventually, I decided I was Chris but I have to admit, though I don’t like to I see a bit of Teddy in me.

The story itself is really well-paced - mostly because of the multiple sub-plots that are going on throughout. The way they deal with the death of Gordy’s brother is very realistic. Such as, the fact that Gordy looked at his brother as a father figure since his father only really cares about his older brother, and that once his brother is gone all his father can do is compare him to his older brother. The sub-plot concerning the villains is also well-done. Played mostly for laughs, nonetheless they do get out a pretty decent amount of personality - - though maybe a little too much in some cases. This is probably the films only flaw. I understand that we’re not supposed to get attached to the teenagers in the story since they are the villains. But in a story that has gone so far out of its way to make such believable child characters it is kind of funny that these are some of the blandest teenagers that I’ve ever seen in my life. Not that the personalities themselves are bad, I happen to recognize one of them as someone I know. The reason I say one of them is that they all have the exact same personality – perverted, idiot, douchebags! I don’t like to use that word but I just can’t think of any other word to describe them. That really is exactly how they act - all except for their leader, Ace - who I will say, is a really good villain. Apart for the fact that he looks really cool, Ace is a pretty intimidating guy. Yes, he’s one-dimensional, but the story isn’t supposed to be about Ace. It’s supposed to be about these kids looking for a dead body, and the movie does that really well.

Apart from really great cinematography, and a really great sound-track, this is the only movie I can honestly say that I’ve ever watched where the tone kept switching every five scenes and that was something I really liked. Oddly, enough the movie I would most compare this to is Sideways. In both movies, some scenes are hilariously funny. Others are serious and sometimes tragic. And just like in Sideways, by the end of the movie you are not really sure whether the characters have learned anything from the experience or not. They just sort of seem to go on with their lives. Anyway though, one of the best examples of how the tone shifts in this movie is when their crossing over a narrow bridge on top of train tracks over a large gorge when suddenly the train appears and they start running for their lives. Because of how the film has been so far I couldn’t tell if the ending was going to be funny or tragic. I won’t ruin it for you but needless to say, it is unforgettable. And that is the film in a nutshell – unforgettable.





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