What to Watch: “Stand By Me”

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What to Watch: “Stand By Me”

Wil Wheaton, River Phoenix, Corey Feldman, and Jerry O'Connell in

Wil Wheaton, River Phoenix, Corey Feldman, and Jerry O'Connell in "Stand By Me."

Wil Wheaton, River Phoenix, Corey Feldman, and Jerry O'Connell in "Stand By Me."

Wil Wheaton, River Phoenix, Corey Feldman, and Jerry O'Connell in "Stand By Me."

Tyler Lopez

Wil Wheaton, River Phoenix, Corey Feldman, and Jerry O’Connell in “Stand By Me.”

Growing up is never easy, but realizing the friends we have now may part from us is a world of its own. “Stand By Me” (1986) is a testimony to that exact concept. For sensitive Gordie, troubled Chris, flamboyant Teddy, and comical Vern this may be the last time they see each other before they enter the toils and troubles of middle school, high school and eventually college.

The gang embarks on a harrowing journey across the backwoods of rural Oregon in the midsummer heat to find the body of Ray Brower: a boy who went missing just days before. They soon set out on their journey over Memorial Day weekend with a lie to their parents stating they would be camping out in Vern’s backfield.

The focus is put on Gordie Lachance, and how his older brother,Denny, died in a car wreck in April. His parents favored him over Gordie, as he was the quarterback of the high school’s football team. However, Denny loved his younger brother and always supported him on his love for writing and storytelling. Gordie’s father took Denny’s death very seriously, and even asked Gordie why he wasn’t like his brother.

Chris Chambers comes from a family of criminals and parental abuse. In school, he was suspended for a month because he was accused of stealing the milk money in his class. No one believed him when he said he did not steal the money, and  who would listen to a kid from a family of criminals?

Teddy Duchamp never knew his mother, but it is assumed she committed suicide when Teddy was young. His father, a World War II veteran who suffers from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and alcoholism, burnt Teddy’s ear on a stove. His father was put into the Togus Mental Hospital, leaving him to live with his aunt. Lastly, Vern Tessio was bullied horribly in school for being overweight, but he always made jokes and is seen as the comedian of the group.

These four friends, whom all have troubled home lives, stuck together and ventured as friends.Hours before the boys set out, Chris meets up with Gordie and bestows a certain object: his father’s .45 caliber pistol. The boys head out into the overwhelming heat in search of the body of Ray Brower, and into the last innocent summer as kids. Amidst the fun, laughs and train-jumping. Gordie comes to realize what their adventure really is. He notices that this might be the last time he will ever speak with Teddy, Vern and even Chris. He comes to question if is wrong for being a writer, and not like his brother Denny. But Chris quells his harming thoughts and tells him God gave him a gift and that he has to make do with what he does have and not question if that gift is right or wrong. Chris also promises to always be with Gordie, and to help him on his through life and his own troubled life.

As the boys venture into parts unknown, another group is hot on their heels with intention to claim a $20,000 reward for finding the body of Ray Brower. This introduces “Eyeball” Chambers, Chris’s older brother, and “Ace” Merrill, the leader of Castle Rock’s gang of hoodlums:The Scorpions.

While their means of adventure are more evil to that of the boys, the two groups end up learning more of each other and realizing that the time they have together now is unbelievably short. It is a race against each other, and the boys hone in on the body of Ray Brower just before the gang shows up.

Immediately knives are pulled as Ace threatens to kill the boys and claim reward. A sullen Gordie does the unspeakable. He pulls the .45 caliber pistol to Ace, who backs off in fear, but not without promising harm in the future. Gordie, Chris, Teddy and Vern soon realize that the body of Ray Brower is a reminder that no matter what the circumstances were, they stayed together and enjoyed their time together and vow to offer Ray Brower the proper funeral.

The boys soon return home on Memorial Day, and part. The fates of the boys are told by an older Gordie: Teddy tried multiple times to join the army, but his ear kept him out. He wound up spending time in prison, and was doing odd jobs in Castle Rock. Vern had married out of high school and ran a forklift company. Had a couple of kids and lived a pretty good life. Chris stuck with Gordie all the way through college, and eventually became a lawyer. Given Chris’s peaceful nature, he attempted to stop a confrontation at a fast-food restaurant. The man who initiated the conflict pulled a knife and stabbed Chris in his throat. His death was almost in an instant.

An older Gordie is seen sitting in his car in a field, with a newspaper that sits on his lap. Its headline read “Castle Rock, OR. man stabbed in fast-food restaurant.”The screen fades to black, then it shows the older Gordie typing the final sentences of his book.  He sums up the final sentences of the book with, “And I never had friends like the last days of my summer when I was 12. Jesus, who does?”

Ben E. King’s “Stand By Me” plays the anthem of the film, to growing up and to all lost friends.

  • Director: Rob Reiner
  • Producer(s):Bruce A. Evans, Andrew Sheinman
  • Release date: Aug.22,1986
  • Based on: Stephen King’s “The Body”

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