The coming-of-age tale follow four young boys as they leave home for the very first time on an adventure that is sure to earn them local fame. The central character in the film is young Gordie (Wil Wheaton), and his older self (Richard Dreyfuss) narrates the story of the kids' adventure to find the dead body of a lost child. The leader of the quartet is Chris Chambers (River Phoenix) who comes from a family with a less-than-golden reputation. Chris, a bit of a bad boy himself, finds the hardest thing he has to do is get out from the dark shadow the rest of his family casts on him.
Teddy (Corey Feldman), another member of their party, is the son of the town drunk and has a very hot head which always has him on the brink of getting into a fight. Like Chris' character, he finds a hard time getting out of the shadow of his father. Actually, that is a very common theme with all of these kids. Even Gordie finds himself constantly compared to his recently-deceased older brother (John Cusack) who was the town's high school sports star.
The final member of the pre-teen troupe is chubby Vern (Jerry O'Connell). While he has an older brother that belongs to the local band of hoodlums, the biggest reason no one really takes him seriously is because of his general goofiness and overweight appearance.
It is Vern that gets the story going when he tells the other three kids that he overheard his brother talking to another member of his gang about finding the body of a lost child off of the train-tracks a few hours away. With his question of "Do you want to see a dead body," images of becoming famous by showing the world where the body is fills their heads. With a desire to be heroes, the four lie to their parents and start a long trek that will not only have them grow even closer as friends, but also have a few heart-racing close calls that involve everything from almost being run over by a train, to being attacked by a junkyard dog and to eventually facing the aforementioned group of goons, led by Kiefer Sutherland, as they show up at the body right when our heroes do.
Stand By Me feels a lot longer than its 88 minutes would lead you to believe. There is a lot packed into each minute and all of it is important. Each scene is a major stepping stone to one or more characters' journey to become a person in their own right and get beyond the various images people see them as. It is well worth the showing, and the film's awesome soundtrack just makes it better. Songs from the era like "Lollipop," "Yakety Yak," and "Great Balls of Fire," are just a few of the prominently featured licensed songs that are either played in the background or sung by the kids themselves. There is also, of course, the Ben E. King classic "Stand By Me," which retook it's #1 seat when this film aired some 25 years after the song's original release, a feat rarely achieved.
The 25th Anniversary Edition of this movie not only comes with a good number of the previous special features, but it also contains a new one that is very interesting. The old content includes the 2005 featurette "Walking the Tracks" where King, Reiner, Wheaton, Feldman, O'Connell and Sutherland all talk about their experiences on the show. While these interviews didn't result in any reunions, the new Picture-in-Picture commentary did since neither Wheaton nor Feldman had seen each other in many years. This commentary features those two actors and Reiner. There is also another, older, audio commentary featuring only Reiner. The only other special feature is the music video that accompanies the film. It starts with footage of Ben E. King doing his original 1961 rendition, then morphs into him singing it to an audience comprised of the cast of Stand By Me (the film) when King waves both Phoenix and Wheaton onto the stage to dance alongside him.
While Stand By Me is not an exact copy of the Stephen King novella, it is still a great adaptation and a classic movie that is a must-see. King himself says, in the "Walking the Tracks" featurette, that it was the first adaptation of one of his works where he felt like the moviemakers really did his work justice. Again, Stand By Me is simply a must-see film. The Blu-ray version means that the woodsy scenery of the location comes through clearly and if you have even the slightest interest in owning this film, this is the version to buy.