The archetypal coming of age tale.
The best films, and I mean the VERY best films (think Star Wars, Back to the Future, Indiana Jones) are truly timeless. Stand By Me comfortably deserves to be mentioned in the same breath.
Like all those films, Stand By Me does not take place in the present which means it will never become dated. What sets it apart from other period films though, is while the costumes and soundtrack are straight out of the 50s, the actual storyline could be plucked from any era. Boys, girls, men, women, the elderly – everybody can relate to endless summer adventures, friends you will never forget, bullies, camping and growing up.
These subjects have been covered endlessly in numerous mediums. People like Bruce Springsteen, Killers and Kevin Smith have made a career out of creating drama and romance from the humdrum melancholy of adolescence. I can’t think of any piece of work in any art form however that captures what it is to be young so perfectly as Stand By Me.
Coming from the pen of horror maestro Stephen King, you might expect the story of four young boys searching for a dead body to be dark or macabre. Stand By Me is neither. It is warm and entirely innocent, one of the only examples of sentimentality being used properly and not as a manipulative replacement for a genuine plot.
Endlessly quotable, brilliantly soundtracked and with a heartbreaking performance from River Phoenix, Stand By Me somehow feels like an epic journey a la Lord of the Rings despite clocking in at under an hour and a half.
Quite simply one of the finest films it has ever been my pleasure to watch.