Rob Reiner’s coming of age tale, an adaptation of Stephen King’s short story The Body, is a classic. It was a great joy to share it with my sons and two of their friends on the weekend.
Set in the 1950s, four friends set off on a “don’t tell our parents” camping trip, in search of the body of a missing teenager. They have ambitions of being heroes for finding the missing boy, even though they’ve overheard that he has been killed in an accident.
The four characters are each on a different emotional journey, leaving behind different challenges at home. Each one is explored with sensitivity and insight as the group approaches the inevitable conclusion of their quest.
River Pheonix is astonishingly good in this film, at age 14 or 15. This, and his performance in My Own Private Idaho, give us just a hint of what he might have achieved if his life had not spiralled out of control and ended so tragically and so young.
The construct of the film, with one of the boys telling the story as an now adult writer, adds some depth and perspective to the narrative. His closing wisdom about the friends you have when you are 12 years old is an interesting thing to reflect on.
With a great soundtrack, Stand by Me is rated M for frequent strong language from the four street wise leads. This is a must see.