Stand by Me



Edgy coming-of-age story isn't for young kids.
Popular with kidsParents recommend
  • Review Date: August 15, 2005
  • Rated: R
  • Genre: Drama
  • Release Year: 1986
  • Running Time: 88 minutes

What parents need to know

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.

Positive role models

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.

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.

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?


Stand by Me accurately depicts the painful process of maturation that has plagued both teens and preteens for ages. In many ways, the conclusion of the 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.

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. The boys' unyielding sense of camaraderie and irrepressible spirit sees them through towering adversity that's ultimately admired -- and at the same time abhorred.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about why the kids 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?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:January 1, 1986
DVD release date:March 22, 2005
Cast:Jerry O'Connell, River Phoenix, Wil Wheaton
Director:Rob Reiner
Studio:Sony Pictures
Run time:88 minutes
MPAA rating:R
MPAA explanation:language

This review of Stand by Me was written by

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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What parents and kids say

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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 this film, and you will too!!!!! I really can't waste anymore time writing this review, I'm getting ready to watch for the 14th time. So, see this inspirational film about friendship (if you're over 12 of course, the language is pretty harsh.)
Teen, 13 years old Written bySafemancam001 February 13, 2011

Rated R, but okay for teens.

This was an amazing movie. Lots of drama with a touch of comedy mixed in.
What other families should know
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Great role models
Kid, 11 years old February 7, 2011
It is a great movie but has alot of bad words.
What other families should know
Too much swearing
Great messages
Great role models


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