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The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
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.
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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?
- In theaters: January 1, 1986
- On DVD or streaming: March 22, 2005
- Cast: Jerry O'Connell, River Phoenix, Wil Wheaton
- Director: Rob Reiner
- Studio: Sony Pictures
- Genre: Drama
- Character strengths: Curiosity, Perseverance, Teamwork
- Run time: 88 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: language
- Last updated: September 21, 2019
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