Stand by Me falls somewhat short of being a firstrate ‘small’ picture about adventurous small-town adolescent boys, although director Rob Reiner is to be lauded for coming close. Formerly titled The Body, based on a novella of the same name by Stephen King, it is the experiences of four youths on a two-day trek through the woods around their home-town of Castle Rock, Oregon, to find the yet-undiscovered body of a dead teenager reported missing for several days.
Film opens very slowly with the extraneous narration of grownup writer Richard Dreyfuss reminiscing on that certain summer of 1959 between sixth and seventh grades that he spent with three close buddies as they sought to become heroes in each other’s and the town’s eyes.
Scripters have written inspired dialog for this quartet of plucky boys at that hard-to-capture age when they’re still young enough to get scared and yet old enough to want to sneak smokes and cuss.
Leading the cast is the introspective, sensitive ‘brain’ of the bunch, Gordie Lachance (Wil Wheaton). His somber personality is matched by best friend Chris Chambers (River Pheonix), a toughie who is an abused child; Teddy Dechamp (Corey Feldman), the loony kid of an institutionalized father; and the perfectly named wimp, Vern Tessie, the chubby kid who everyone else enjoys poking fun at.
1986: Nomination: Best Adapted Screenplay