Sunday, February 17, 2008
A Frank Review of "Stand By Me"
If memory serves, I first saw "Stand By Me" when I was staying in Albuquerque, New Mexico with family friends. I was especially fond of Trina, who was just a smidge older than me, and quite crushingly thought of me as her "cousin." This was the first and one of the few times I've allowed myself to be turned into a "girlfriend," which in man-lingo translates as "sexless bitch," but I wasn't really hip to that then. My time in Albuquerque made me conscious of my atrociously thick Texan accent, and was a preview of the peer abuse I'd be subjected to once we made the move to Vegas. I didn't know it then, but I was a hick, a nerd, and poor white trash all rolled into one. Is it any wonder then that I responded so strongly on introduction to the misfits in Rob Reiner's film?
That initial viewing made me long for the simpler times of the mid-century, when people were decent and friends were true. Never mind that the movie itself was filled with neglectful and abusive parents, cruel teens, callous adults... come to think of it, pretty near everyone in the movie is kind of a dick. But hey, our P.O.V. character Gordie had a great crew, which I never did. The closest I came was in 5th grade before the move, and found close friends in Benito and Niaze, meaning I actually had two buds at the same time. Up until I accidentally found myself in a crew in my early twenties (with two still hanging tough today,) I was all about partners over posses. I almost always had one good friend that I spent time with, and there were plenty of them, just never more than the one at a time.
So anyway, long story short, I bought "Stand By Me" on DVD, because it was one of my favorite movies twenty years ago. It might have been wise to remember that very little of what I liked twenty years ago has held up, this film included. The whole thing seems so trite now, with hammy acting, though still better than the norm for child stars. Jerry O'Connell wasn't near as fat as I remembered him. While I know Daniel Stern's narration for "The Wonder Years" (along with the basic premise of the show) was swiped from this movie, it seems so much stronger, perhaps because Stern still sounds like an arrested adolescent. Richard Dreyfuss has always been a nasal-voiced middle-aged weasel to me, even when he was in his twenties. At no point do I believe this guy was Gordie, or else I'd hate the kid, instead of just being bored with Wheaton's mousy performance. By the way, Wheaton now looks like he hangs out at playgrounds for kicks, and I doubt Corey Feldman leaves the house without a compact and mascara these days.
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