Stand by Me



Edgy coming-of-age story not for young kids.
  • Review Date: August 15, 2005
  • Rated: R
  • Genre: Drama
  • Release Year: 1986
  • Running Time: 88 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

The messages are pretty bleak; it shows growing up to be an often painful process. That said, the boys' friendship is a powerful force in their lives.

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.


Sexual innuendo. The boys are curious about the opposite sex, and discuss girls in a crude but age-appropriate way.


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


References to both Winston's cigarettes, cherry PEZ, and Fruit Of The Loom underwear.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Alcohol and cigarette consumption by kids.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that despite its preteen stars, this should by no means be considered a children's movie. Aside from the abundance of profanity, implied and displayed violence, and sexually suggestive material, the predominance of adult-oriented themes dealing with the disillusionment of adolescence requires a mature, adult-outlook. There is plenty of sexual innuendo and alcohol and cigarette consumption by kids. A dead body is shown. Acts of violence are both alluded to and shown on film. Stories about parental physical and emotional abuse are not shown but are mentioned frequently and are integral to the story.

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. The team overcomes oncoming trains, a disgusting bout with leeches, and the rival advances of a competing "gang" to collect the prize of seeing a dead body.

Is it any good?


The movie 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 principles, as the four boys are never quite the same after making their gruesome discovery.

The film's brilliance ultimately lies in its all-embracing adherence to the immutable rules of reality. 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 of youth sees them through towering adversity that is ultimately admired, and at the same time abhorred.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the motives that compel the characters (adolescent children) to seek refuge in reckless behavior.

  • Discuss death -- whether it be a sibling or a stranger, and its effect on family members.

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.)
Parent of a 11 year old Written bykristijones67 August 7, 2010

edgy is good.

edgy is good. the world is edgy. I'd rather my daughter watch this than the disney princess crap. If your children are going to be shocked by the f-word maybe you should keep them sheltered for as long as you can. talk to your kids. ~k
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


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