RogerBW's Blog

Stand By Me 17 December 2021

1986 drama, dir. Rob Reiner, Wil Wheaton, River Phoenix: IMDb / allmovie. In 1959, four kids go out following a rumour of a dead body…

All right, this is something of a confluence of things that I tend not to like about films: Stephen King story, nostalgia, about children, no significant female characters, Wil Wheaton. But beyond that, it sometimes felt as though Reiner had taken everything I might enjoy instead and scraped it away: no elegant camerawork, no subtle direction, not even any long-shots of gorgeous landscapes, just a relentless focus on these unlikeable people.

Maybe if I'd watched it at the right age I'd feel more positive, but I don't think so: these children have no conversation beyond insults, and they think they're friends. (Two of them will eventually achieve actual communication, which I suppose is the point of the exercise, but I found I didn't care about their one-note characters enough to be impressed.) But then, while I do keep up with a couple of my school friends, I don't feel that they are vastly better friends than anyone I've known since, and I think that's the central thesis of the film – that once you grow up (and, presumably, discover sex) you just can't make good friends any more. That is very much Not Me.

Even the "smart" kid who wants to be a writer (not that this is a Stephen King self-insert or anything) doesn't read anything except the occasional comic.

River Phoenix gives the best performance here, and seven years later he'd overdosed. Jerry O'Connell's next role was in Police Academy 5 and he's made something of a career of coming in at film 5 or 6 in a series. Corey Feldman, while not formally prosecuted, is one of those men whom women tell each other not to be alone with. And it is apparently mandatory to love Wil Wheaton, but his resting smugface – which he has just as much here as he had a few years ago in TableTop – just gets in the way.

When the kids are racing across a bridge ahead of a steam locomotive, I couldn't help but notice that the driver made no attempt to brake (it wouldn't have been successful, but it would have been obvious from the noise). Had he met them before?

Once more if you want more of my witterings you should listen to Ribbon of Memes.

Tags: film reviews

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