Stand by Me

Movie review by
Jelani Harper, Common Sense Media
Stand by Me Movie Poster Image
Popular with kidsParents recommend
Edgy coming-of-age story isn't for young kids.
  • R
  • 1986
  • 88 minutes

Parents say

age 12+
Based on 57 reviews

Kids say

age 12+
Based on 183 reviews

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We think this movie stands out for:

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

The movie shows that growing up is an often-painful process. That said, the boys' friendship is a powerful force in their lives, and the movie has a strong nostalgic appeal. Themes include curiosity, teamwork, and perseverance.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Although they aren't perfect and engage in dangerous pursuits, at heart the boys are good kids and loyal friends.


A dead body is shown; references to other violent acts (including a father hurting his son and another dad shooting a gun). Some peril (a train approaching while boys on the tracks) and threats. Scuffling/wrestling.


Innuendo (references to masturbation, getting laid) and crude jokes. The boys are curious about the opposite sex and discuss girls in a crude but age-appropriate way.


Many uses of "f--k," plus "s--t," "a--hole," "t-ts," "d--k," and more, almost all by teen boys.


References to Winston's cigarettes, cherry PEZ, and Fruit of the Loom underwear.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Underage kids drink and smoke; a teen drives while drinking.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that despite its high nostalgia factor and preteen stars, Stand by Me should by no means be considered a children's movie. It has a ton of strong language (including "f--k" and "s--t"), implied and displayed violence, and sexual references/crude jokes, and it also deals with adult-oriented themes -- including the disillusionment of adolescence. Kids and teens also smoke and drink, and a dead body is shown. Stories about parental physical and emotional abuse aren't shown but are mentioned frequently and are key to the story. There's also an extremely memorable (and extremely gross) scene involving mass vomiting during an eating contest.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written bymyopinionisbest May 23, 2017

Mandatory viewing for boys age 10-12

Stand By Me should be mandatory viewing for all boys age 10-12. Yes there are a lot of inappropriate things in the movie, but here's the thing, parents: yo... Continue reading
Parent of a 11 and 13-year-old Written byDylan1226 March 18, 2019

A classic movie for slightly older kids.

I showed this to my kids (13 and 11) recently. It is rated R and this movie earns that rating with bad language. I did cringe at some of the language, but it is... Continue reading
Kid, 12 years old April 9, 2008

My favorite film of all time, period

I have seen over 500 films in my lifetime, and this has been my favorite for 3 years (yes I saw it when I was nine, get over it!) I instantly fell in love with... Continue reading
Kid, 11 years old August 16, 2016

Amazing! But not for all kids!

When I watched this movie, I thought wow this is awesome. But, they're are some inappropriate things in it.
1) Language. Teen boys swear and say pretty mu... Continue reading

What's the story?

STAND BY ME (based on Stephen King's novella) revolves around four small-town 12-year-old boys who set out on a trek to find a dead body. They overcome oncoming trains, a disgusting bout with leeches, and the rival advances of a competing "gang" to collect the prize of locating the body.

Is it any good?

The film's brilliance ultimately lies in its all-embracing realism. Stand by Me goes to considerable lengths to identify the issues and accurately portray the pressures that lead to the disenchantment of teens everywhere. In many ways, the conclusion of their quest signifies the end of innocence (or at least childhood) for the main characters, as they're never quite the same after making their gruesome discovery. 

Stand by Me accurately depicts the painful process of maturation that has plagued both teens and preteens for ages.The boys' unyielding sense of camaraderie and irrepressible spirit sees them through towering adversity that's ultimately admired -- and at the same time abhorred.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about why the kids in Stand by Me seek refuge in reckless behavior. Is that believable? Realistic? Even though the movie is set many decades ago, do parts of it still feel relatable?

  • How does the movie depict the impact that death has -- whether on family members, friends, or strangers? What other movies tackle similar topics?

  • The movie involves young characters in lots of adult content, including language, sexual references, drinking, smoking, and more. Is that OK?

  • How do the boys in Stand by Me Movie demonstrate curiosity, teamwork, and perseverance? Why are these important character strengths?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love coming-of-age stories

Character Strengths

Find more movies that help kids build character.

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