This week marks 30 years since the release of Stand By Me, the ultimate coming-of-age comedy drama that's all provoked by one simple question: "You guys want to see a dead body?" Just as rewarding upon your twelfth as well as first viewing, Stand By Me is right up there with The Shining and The Shawshank Redemption as the greatest Stephen King adaptation ever, something that the writer has admitted himself. Still, what made Stand By Me -- which grossed $52.3 million from just an $8 million budget after receiving rave reviews -- so instantly beloved from its first day of release all the way up to now?
It helps that it's charmingly sentimental, funny, so easy to watch thanks to Rob Reiner's impeccable direction, perfectly cast and is buoyed by Richard Dreyfus' nostalgically sage narration that immediately makes you think back to your own misspent youth and consider how glorious it was, while at the same time making you wish you'd grown up in the 1950s with Chris Chambers as your best friend. However, what truly made it so impactful is that it's packed full of life-altering moments and scenes that are just a little bit familiar as well as gorgeously cinematic. Here are the five greatest moments from Stand By Me that will immediately want to make you re-watch the film all over again.
5. "What He Wanted Was Revenge."
One of the best mini stories told within a film in cinematic history (alongside A Serious Man's Goy's Teeth and Pulp Fiction's Gold Watch), The Revenge Of Lard Ass Hogan is also preposterously disgusting, too. That's because it features its eponymous character vomiting, thanks to the aid of a full bottle of castor oil, a raw egg and umpteen pies, in someone's face. That was his plan all along, though, as he then sits back in glee as his sick provokes the rest of the tent to basically vomit in unison, too. The precise reason for the story is still hard to pin down, though. It brings to light both Gordie's prowess as a story-teller and his twisted, vindictive mindset following the death of his brother. Mostly it's just a really entertaining, surreal, and wonderfully juvenile tale in amongst the child abuse, death, corpses, loss of innocence and trains. Plus, since it was such a key component of Stephen King's The Body, it would have been sacrilege to leave it out, despite the fact that Teddy didn't like the ending.
4. "There He Is. I See Him. I See Him."
What's so perfect about Stand By Me's conclusion is just how understated it is. Films that sign post their endings from the get-go often fail to satisfy, as they can't build upon what's been promised. Fortunately upon the sight of Ray Brower's body, you can immediately see the growth and demise of innocence of the characters, and the impact that it's had on each of them. All four actors -- Will Wheaton, River Phoenix, Jerry O'Connell and Corey Feldman -- showcase a subtly that still powerfully resonates and is way beyond their years, while you get a palpable sense of the noticeable change in each of them. As Dreyfus utters in his narration, "We'd only been gone for two days, but somehow the town seemed different. Smaller." Because of this nostalgic yearning, you can't help but look back on your own life, at your old friends, and smirk at your own preposterous antics. That's a rare power for a movie to provoke. That's why Stand By Me should be celebrated and appreciated as the bona-fide classic that it is.
3. "Vern, There's Something On Your Neck."
Not only did Stand By Me ruin playing on train tracks for kids, but it also taught us never to go and play in a swap in the middle of the forest. Why? Because of blood-sucking leeches, that's why. After taking the short-cut through the forest to get to Ray Brower's body, the foursome end up in a pool of murky water. They're unable to resist the allure of a nautical scrap, but that soon turns into mayhem when Gordie notices a leech on Vern's neck. They quickly brush them off each other, with Rob Reiner using sharp, quick edits to underline the urgency, before Gordie realizes that his own manhood has been a victim. The shot of a leech and blood being removed from Gordie's pants is both immediately gruesome and wince inducing. Makes you think he might have been better off being killed by the train after all.
2. "We Talked All Into The Night. The Kind Of Talk That Feels Important Until You Discover Girls."
While the soon-to-be-discussed train dodge is _Stand By Me's ___most memorable scene, the real heart, and ultimately the main reason for Stand By Me's enduring appeal, comes to the fore in the camp side sequence. It's noy just because of Gordie's story of Davie 'Lard-Ass' Hogan, but because of the trivial, yet integral, chatter that they partake in, which as Dreyfus' narration notes "feels important until you discover girls." The foursome try to figure out what the hell Goofy is, Vern reveals that he'd eat cherry flavor Pez all day for the rest of his life if he could, all the while the specter of Ray Brower's corpse looms large, without being mentioned. It's a reminder that the quartet are still kids, even though they're on the cusp of realizing the limitations of life and are beginning to harden and become more cynical.
1. "The All Time Train Dodge."
Stand By Me's most iconic sequence sees Chambers, Lachance, Vern and Duchamp crossing over a train track on a bridge with a 100 feet vertical drop down to the water either side of it. There's no room for them to escape if a train comes hurtling towards them, which it inevitably does. Chambers and Duchamp are close enough to the end to get out safe and sound, but Gordie sticks with a struggling and rather portly Vern. They move agonizingly slow as the train speeds on the tracks ever closer to them, so much so that each time you watch it you're certain they'll be squashed. They make it. Just. With Gordie flinging himself and Vern off the side onto the inclining hill. It's tantalizing to watch, and unfolds in such a way where you genuinely consider, just for a moment, that the film might actually kill one if not both of them. In fact, it's only comparison is the _Toy Story 3 _incinerator scene.