Stand By Me

October 8, 2011

I picked up the DVD of this in a bargain bin, but avoided watching it for awhile because I knew it’d be pretty rough going.  I’d get nostalgic and maudlin and end up sobbing into my bottle of wine.  When Stand By Me came out in 1986, I was 13, and the same age as the main characters.  My friends and I all loved it because it was a serious movie about kids like us (and had kids swearing!).  And then there was Gordy, who wanted to be a writer like I did.  Also, I hadn’t seen the movie since River Phoenix died, which I still haven’t gotten over.

But I finally watched it, and the movie hit me hard in a way I was not expecting, because I had completely forgotten that the first scene is of Richard Dreyfuss, “The Writer,” i.e.  Gordy grown up.  He’s sitting in the truck, grief-stricken and numb, and I thought, “Holy crap, he’s the age I am now.”

It’s the shock of watching an old movie and seeing an actor who I’m used to thinking of as quite a bit older than me (my parent’s age, in fact) at my actual current age, which feels a little like time travel.  But there was more to it, since like Gordy, I did what I wanted to do and grew up and became a writer.  Stand By Me:  still relevant to my life, and who’d have thunk?

Other than that, it’s a good movie, but I find it difficult to be objective, since for me, half a lifetime on, it’s more like looking at an old yearbook than watching a movie.  I kept thinking of how young I was, how young everyone looks (even Keifer Sutherland has a little baby fat going), how I’d forgotten John Cusack was in it, and so on.

I didn’t have the kind of childhood the movie depicts, a close-knit group in an iconic small town.  I’m only in touch with one of my friends from that time, and that’s only Christmas cards once a year (we’ve ended up in very different places in our lives).  Because we moved so much, my childhood sometimes felt like being in a theater where the projectionist kept changing reels to a new movie before the current one had finished.  Maybe I’ll write about my childhood someday, like Gordy.  But I think I’m still processing it.

3 Responses to “Stand By Me”

  1. Amy Sisson Says:

    Did you see that sci-fi (ish) short story that was online some years ago, in which someone digitally replaces Richard Dreyfus with Kevin Spacey in the film? Wil Wheaton appears as a character in the story. I certainly found it interesting. (Sorry, I don’t remember the title or author.)

  2. Andrew Says:

    I’m glad I’m not the only one still processing my childhood. 🙂

  3. carriev Says:

    Amy, haven’t seen that but I’ll have to look it up!

    The Blu Ray release apparently has a reunion interview with Rob Reiner, O’Connel, Wheaton, Feldman, and Dreyfuss that I’d love to see.


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