#177: Stand By Me (1986)

When and how did I watch this?

December 4th, 2015, on a friend’s Plex account.

Had I seen this film already?

Nope. I drew some criticism for “missing out”.

What did I know about the movie before watching it?

Features several high-profile 80s childhood actors.  Some still have careers.  Some don’t.  At least one faced a tragic demise. I remember it being a big deal when I was younger, and I probably saw parts of it on TV here and there, but was never compelled to watch it.

What do I know about it now?

A brutal coming-of-age film featuring kids being 50s kids: smoking, swearing, unleashing gross yo momma jokes and generally making fun of everything. Some of it was funny.  However, there are many very serious moments, mostly involving the kids’ home lives and the wonder of what would become of themselves.  One wouldn’t expect a 12 year old to delve into serious contemplation, especially among peers, but the film looked to address these issues without making the youth seem too grown up, yet recognizing that sometimes kids know a little too much for their age.  The final moments of the film are incredibly tense and will likely stick with me for a long time. I found myself identifying with this film, as most would.

What are some themes in the film?

Friendship, death, growing up, the 50s, passing time, exaggeration/truth, violence

Did this affect me personally?

Stories about growing up should affect everyone, really.  There is a moment in every human’s life when they realize they’re no longer a kid, even if they thought they’d seen it all before that moment.

Why is this ranked #177?

It has some cult following, but the movie is compelling enough to get a good ranking on here.

Did my wife watch/like it?

She felt the film was engaging as well.

Would I watch it again?

I’m not sure.  It’s a little rough — watching these kids smoke and use nasty language is unsettling, and knowing one of them really was a “bad kid” makes things even harder. Nonetheless, it’s a moving performance, and I’m not too proud to see it again.

Would I recommend it to a friend?

Most of my friends have already seen it.  I think it’s a must-see, but be aware of content if you’re sensitive to it.

Does it deserve to be on this list as one of the greatest films of all time?

Yes.  River Phoenix turned in a fine performance, and while I didn’t grow up in the 50s, the film really did depict the apparent issues and nuances quite nicely. It bears cultural significance worth noting, in short.

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