“Goonies,” the adult version.
This next film has another set of young boys going on an adventure together–of sorts.
It starts off with “the writer” of this story as he reflects on a news story that he has just read. It is narrated by Richard Dreyfuss (one of my favorite actors–check out his filmography; great resume) while he writes the tale of his youth about being with his friends.
It seems like a very simple premise. Four friends decide to walk the train-tracks out of town in the hopes of finding a supposed dead body of one of their classmates that was struck by a train. Being that the tale is narrated by one of the four boys, we get quite an insight from him regarding his take on his friends in a very short amount of screen time. Basically there’s “the clown,” “the chub,” and “the best friend.” It takes more time to get to know the narrator as he doesn’t want to show all of his cards right away. We take the journey with them and slowly gain a perspective of what “the writer’s” life has been, and how his friends impact his choices.
“Stand by Me” is one of the first movies in which I was exposed to boys using the infamous “f” word (“Lucas” was probably the first time I heard it on film). I felt that it depicted a true outlook on what boys are like when they are comfortable with their friends and away from their parents. You speak how you want to, you show affection by slighting your friends with mild insults, and you tell a few dirty jokes along the way.
My dad had built us a very nice tree-house when we were children. My cousins and I would play all around it during the day, and then sleep in it under the stars at night. Thinking about this movie makes me think of how I engaged with my cousins. It is very similar. You start out having loads of fun together, then you start to pick at each other–usually out of boredom, then you start trying to be funny or hope that someone else starts being funny; and sometimes, shit happens along the way.
The young actors that Rob Reiner was able to direct, are what make this film believable. The somber countenance of the Gordie character (“the writer” as a child) is played very subtle by Wil Wheaton. Equally important is the display of support and admiration that Chris–played by River Phoenix–displays for Gordie (and Teddy and Vern for that matter) in order to help all of them survive the trip they take together.
The original title of the novella written by Stephen King is “The Body.” I enjoy that title given the circumstances of the story, but the decision to change the title to “Stand by Me,” adds a clear thematic element that allows the opening scenes of “the writer’s” reflection to come full circle by the movies very stirring climax.
Please join my email list.