Stand By Me Deluxe Edition Rob Reiner

The closing line of Stand By Me references the fact that you never have closer friends than when you're 12 years old. The series of highs and lows that four boys face in the woods while trying to locate a dead body is proof that Gordie, Chris, Teddy and Vern's friendship is one of the strongest things in their lives. The success of Stand By Me completely rests on the shoulders of River Phoenix, Wil Wheaton, Corey Feldman and Jerry O'Connell, all of whom were then taking on the biggest roles of their careers and impressively came through. Rob Reiner managed to take an all-child cast and avoid making a family film by balancing intense drama, comedy and thriller elements, capturing an adult audience — something most studios don't bother tackling 20 years later. Along with the four heroes, there's strong support from the ever-creepy Kiefer Sutherland and some minor flashback sequences with John Cusack as Gordie's deceased brother Denny, whom Gordie lives in the shadow of. It's heartbreaking to see the potential River Phoenix had even then, and the final scene of him parting ways with Gordie seems almost like an homage. The second tragedy has to be the wasted promise of Corey Feldman, who started to run his career into the ground shortly after this film. In a 30-minute documentary, Stephen King makes note that Stand By Me was one of the best adaptations of his novels, but this "deluxe edition" could have offered so much more. Apart from commentary from Reiner, the documentary is the only substantial extra is little more than the cast kissing the director's ass as they praise his ability to get such commanding performances from his young actors. One of these methods is Reiner yelling at Wheaton and O'Connell to the point of tears in order for them to look frightened while trying to outrun the speeding train on a bridge. The only other nugget is Ben E. King's video rework of "Stand By Me." Though seeing Phoenix and Wheaton "give each other some skin" and play air guitar with King is corny, it does make you remember when that song hit a new generation, and ultimately how so many boys could completely relate to this story in 1986. Plus: CD soundtrack. (Columbia/Sony)