Welcome to Beloved Coming-of-Age Week: Day 1. Anyone that knows me knows I feel a little bit iffy when it comes to coming-of-age. Not all of them are aimless, but a good majority of them are, as they mostly just follow a person, or in this case, people while they just go around and experience life. The reason being is simple – there’s really not much to write about or review, and hence, it feels less like an actual story or movie, and more random and pointless. At least sometimes. However, Stand by Me is quite possibly the most prominent and famous coming-of-age tales, and hey, I’ve never reviewed it. So what’s it about?
Stand by Me follows four best friends as they try to find a dead body. Why? Well, mostly out of curiosity. One of the boys would have gone without the others, though, and death itself has a deeper meaning and importance to his life, seeing how his older brother died recently, and he was pretty young, not really grasping the concept as much as his parents did, who live life in a sort of stupor. So he and his friends go on a long hike to find this body and answer some unasked questions. On the way, they run into a bunch of speed bumps, if you will, but they hold their ground and move forward.
I saw this film as, primarily, a coming-of-age film. The nice thing about it that others don’t always have, is a direction. These boys were trying to do something, there was a definite Point A and Point B to the entire plot, which is all I really ever want out of a coming-of-age film. That way, it’s not aimless, it’s not directionless, there is a reason for it to exist, and a reason this film has: the dead body.
Now, I wouldn’t necessarily call it a perfect film, because it still has some issues, primarily in the “importance” subcategory, and we’ll get to that in just a second, but it’s darn near the closest to perfection as I’ve seen in a coming-of-age movie. So let’s break the film down and talk about each individual quality, shall we?
PEOPLE SCORE – 9/10
Acting – 2|Characters – 2|Casting – 2|Importance – 1|Chemistry – 2
Alright, first up is the people category. Typically speaking, you should see a high score for coming-of-age films, as “character” is of the utmost importance for them to really succeed. You get a really high score here, unsurprisingly. The only issue I had with this category was the importance of the roles, how diverse they are, and how they add to the plot individually speaking. In general, they act as a four-headed person headed towards the same goal – the dead body. They are all very unique with separate personalities, but they all ultimately are going to the same place, which limits their importance. The reason why it got half points instead of zero comes down to the fact that they all have independent importance towards each other. They need each other in different ways when it comes to supporting each other, so that should definitely be noted, but typically speaking, I use this subcategory of importance to the plot, the goal, the endgame, basically. The acting is really good for kids, especially in the 80s, the characters are memorable, thanks to their diverse personalities, I doubt anyone else could play these characters, and they all work really well together.
WRITING SCORE – 10/10
Dialogue – 2|Balanced – 2|Story – 2|Originality – 2|Interesting – 2
Next up, we have the writing category, which got a perfect marking. Like a lot of coming-of-age films, it gets a little heavy with the voiceovers going on as well as how much actual dialogue is going on between the boys on this long, long trip. Yes, the dialogue is good. It is also a highly balanced film. Even though they have their speed bumps, they all act, like I said, as a 4-headed person, so it is definitely balanced. The story is also pretty good, as it does talk a lot about the importance of friendship and sticking together no matter what. I’d also say it’s pretty original, and of course, it’s interesting.
BTS SCORE – 7/10
Visuals – 1|Directing – 1|Editing – 1|Advertisement – 2|Music – 2
Next up, we’ll cover the behind-the-scenes score, which as you can see, is dwindling a little in comparison to the other scores. This mostly has to do with the visuals, the directing, and the editing. It’s not bad necessarily, but it’s also not the best. As far as visuals are concerned, the best shot is the kids running away from the oncoming train, but the rest of the film was pretty basic in my opinion. The direction would have been a little stronger if they focused a little more on the kids and why they all need to be there. Like, if one character wasn’t there, would the audience really notice? The editing was just typical here. It is as-advertised, though, and I liked the music choices.
NARRATIVE ARC SCORE – 9/10
Introduction – 2|Inciting Incident – 2|Obstacles – 2|Climax – 2|Falling Action – 1
The narrative arc category also received a high score, as most classics should. The introduction introduced us to both the young boys and the trouble makers. The inciting incident is when they fully decide to go on a journey to find the body. The obstacles come down to those “speed bumps” I mentioned earlier, the climax is the result of everything coming together, and the falling action was mostly minimal. There was literally a returning to the norm sequence, but it really wasn’t all that impressive or important.
ENTERTAINMENT SCORE – 6/10
Rewatchability – 2|Fun – 2|Impulse/Buy – 1|Impulse/Talk – 0|Sucks Audience in – 1
How entertaining was it? Good question. I think it was entertaining enough, but not in a “holy crap!” way. It’s a classic that you will definitely end up watching several times throughout your life, you do have a fun time watching, either out of nostalgia or otherwise. Personally, I wouldn’t mind owning it, but I don’t really feel like buying it. At this point, I can’t really even say I feel like talking about it or discussing it. As far as sucking the audience in? Meh, I think you’ll have fun watching it, but I don’t consider the film to be truly THAT engaging. Maybe some scenes, sure, but not all of them.
TOTAL SPECIAL – 50/50
Coming-of-Age – 10|Classic – 10|Adventure – 10|Drama – 10|Halfway Decent – 10
Finally, the questions that I asked before seeing the film. As far as coming-of-age is considered, how is this film? I think it’s one of the best coming-of-age films since there is a lot of character depth and friendship and growing up, but there’s also an end goal, which is what I feel like all movies should have. It’s also a classic, and you definitely feel that while watching it. The adventure itself was believable, thrilling, and heartwarming. It has no issues being dramatic, and of course, it’s halfway decent.