This falls into the huge mass of films that everyone who grew up in the ’80s loves but I missed because I was busy watching Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly movies growing up. When I catch up with these films, I rarely love them the way people who saw them as kids do, and of course, to some degree that’s to be expected – seeing a certain type of film when you’re a certain age is very powerful, and often the films you see as a kid, regardless of what those films are, stick with you in a very special way. That said, I’m very happy when I do find a film that transcends what I’ll call the nostalgia barrier (in the sense that I don’t have nostalgia for these films). Though I may still not love it the way someone who grew up with it does, Stand by Me is definitely a film that broke through for me.


On the surface, this is the story of four 12-year-old boys in 1959 who make a 20-mile trek to see a dead body one of them overhears his brother talk about. Such a thing is very out of the ordinary and adventurous for these boys in small-town America at the end of the 1950s, and of course, it is an adventure – they outrun trains, swim in leech-infested waters, and roast hot dogs over a campfire. But all the boys come from troubled homes in one way other another – one’s father is in a mental institution, another has lost his older brother and is ignored by his parents, and another is from a family with a bad reputation that holds him back no matter what he does. None of these things are TOO extreme, and could happen to anybody, but to an adolescent, it’s their whole world, right? And that’s what this film gets so well.