Stand By Me is one of my all-time favorite films. It succeeds in so many ways and transcends what was realistically expected of it, with its four lead child-actors and rather simple overall plot. It is funny, powerful, and leaves any adult feeling nostalgic for childhood. There are many reasons Stand By Me holds such high praise in my mind, thirty-one years after it's release. Incredibly moving performances from Wil Wheaton, River Phoenix, Corey Feldman, and Jerry O'Connell captivated me. The theme of coming-of-age relates to everyone, and hit me especially hard as I watched it growing up. The realism of the film which captured the essence of childhood, as well as the other harsh realities portrayed, like coping with loss and finding one's passion. This film taught me a few important lessons, and that is one of the biggest reasons it ranks on my top five favorite movies list. Here are the things that Stand By Me has taught me about life:
1. Losing A Loved One Never Gets Easier, But Can Make You STRONGER.
Losing someone close to you, as Wheaton's character Gordie does when his older brother Denny dies, is a life-changing incident. It fills you with sadness, regret, and pain. Throughout the film, Gordie remembers his brother and all the joy he brought him. After Denny died, Gordie's parents basically shut down and Gordie became the child that only served as a reminder of their deceased first-born. His parents were shown to always prioritize and care for Denny more than Gordie, and as a result, Denny was the only real role model Gordie had. Gordie is left feeling guilty that he should have been the one to die, and that his parents feel the same. This is a main point of conflict within the film and within Gordie, and the process of dealing with his unnecessary guilt and unfortunate loss makes Gordie reevaluate his priorities and accept himself for who he is.
2. Pursue Your Passions.
Gordie has a talent for creating stories and writing. At one point, we are even treated to the funniest scene of the movie in which Gordie tells his three friends a story he thought of about a pie-eating contest and a boy named Lard-Ass who gets the ultimate revenge. Gordie does, however, struggle with accepting his talent and often brushes it off as a useless skill. Chris, Phoenix's character and Gordie's best friend, does everything he can to convince Gordie that his ability to tell wonderful stories is something not to be wasted. He even says that Gordie has something special, and that he can actually do something with his life, while Chris and the other guys don't have the same chance. As someone who enjoys writing myself, I strongly connect with Gordie's character, and struggle too with accepting it as something I should really put all of my time into. But as Gordie learns, his talent and passion is something he cannot ignore, and he ends up a professional writer in the future. When you have something that you love to do and are good at, how can you pass that up?
3. Friends May Leave Us, But They Impact Us Nonetheless.
The four friends in the film share a very close bond as they journey for two days through the Oregon wilderness to find a dead body. But as so often happens in life, Gordie says that he eventually lost contact with his three friends as they grew up. But he stresses that he will never forget the time he shared with them, and how much they helped make him the man he turned out to be. This is a great reminder that, even though you may not always remain close with all of the friends from your lifetime, many of them will still leave a lasting impact on you in some way or another. Appreciate your true friends while they are in your lives.
4. "Everybody's Weird."
One of the greatest lines from the movies is when Gordie asks Chris, "Am I weird?" and Chris responds, "Yeah. But so what? Everybody's weird." Chris was truly the best friend we all needed in our childhoods. So many of us struggle with insecurities and the worry that we are different and that that's a bad thing. But Chris was speaking the truth when he said that everybody is weird. Everybody is weird in their own way - it's what makes us unique human beings. Don't stress over it.
5. Appearances And Rumors Can Be Deceiving.
While trespassing in a junkyard, the boys encounter the legendary Chopper, a dog who was said to be trained to "sic balls." It turned out, Chopper was just a small, rather harmless dog that was the subject of an urban legend. Gordie says, “Chopper was my first lesson in the vast difference between myth and reality.” This is an important thing to remember, as things we have heard or even seen are not always truth.