Site created 12/15/97.
review added: 9/28/00
Stand By Me
Edition - 1986 (2000) - Columbia TriStar
review by Dan Kelly of
The Digital Bits
Disc Ratings (Video/Audio/Extras):
Specs and Features
88 mins, R, letterboxed widescreen (1.85:1), 16x9 enhanced,
single-sided, RSDL dual-layered (layer switch at 1:01:46, at the
start of chapter 21), Amaray keep case packaging, featurette
Walking the Tracks: The Summer of Stand
By Me, commentary by director Rob Reiner,
Stand By Me music video,
isolated music score, theatrical trailers for Fly
Away Home and The Karate Kid,
talent files, production notes, scene access (28 chapters),
languages: English, French, Spanish, and Portuguese (DD 2.0 mono),
subtitles: English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Chinese, Korean and
Thai, Closed Captioned
Stand by Me came along, the
movie-going public hadn't really seen anything from Stephen King
other than horror. Carrie had
some moments of sensitivity, but, at its heart, it was still a
horror movie. But Stand by Me
is a tenderly-written drama, with dynamite performance by its four
lead cast members, about the last days of summer for four troubled
boys before they start junior high school.
Gordy (Wil Wheaton), Teddy (Corey Feldman), Vern (Jerry O'Connell)
and Chris (River Phoenix) are all best friends. Each one of them is
also unhappy at home, and will do anything not to have to go back
there. On a mission of self-discovery, they head off into the woods
to find the body of a dead kid, about their age, who went missing a
few days before. While hiking through the woods, they share a lot of
things with each other, both personal and inconsequential, that help
them through an experience that will ultimately change their lives
There are a lot of great things about Stand
by Me. First and foremost, are the knockout performances
by the young cast members. As actors, they're very smart and think a
lot about their words and their actions, yet they still come across
as kids rather than just cute faces mouthing words. Rob Reiner's
delicate touch in direction also adds a lot to the movie without
being too hammy or sentimental. He perfectly captures the awkward
humor that comes out of kids growing into their bodies and into
themselves. While the screen adaptation by Raynold Gideon and Bruce
A. Evans doesn't remain completely faithful to the short story, it
does capture the feelings of wistfulness and discovery of youth that
are so present in King's work.
What has always struck me as just a little funny about the movie,
is how the kids act toward each other. They emotionalize a great
deal with each other, which is something most kids I knew when I was
that age (myself included) weren't ready or able to do. We struggle
even as adults to deal with our feelings, and these kids kind of
play psychiatrist for each other better than any grown-up would be
able to do. Yet without this element of the story, many parts of the
film (that would have otherwise come across as flat and somewhat
emotionless) instead become touching and emotionally truthful.
Stand By Me is a magical movie
that has endured as a recent classic of American cinema, and I'm
sure it will continue to do so for some time.
The anamorphic transfer on this new special edition DVD seems to be
the same one used on the previous movie-only release, but it shows
some improvement when spread over a dual-layer disc. The main
drawback to the transfer is edge enhancement that is noticeable in
some of the brighter scenes. Aside from this, you're not really
going to see a lot of transfer-related defects. Flesh tones are even
and natural, and blacks are solid with a lot of depth. Overall, the
picture quality retains an almost theatre-like appearance that is
faithful to the intended look of the film.
The sound mix is the film's original monaural track, and it gets
the job done. It's certainly not an active sound mix, and it lacks
the depth and range of newer films, but it's a good mono mix.
Dialogue is steadily maintained and clear throughout the film. Never
does it sound hollow or tinny like many older films can, but I can't
help but wonder why Columbia didn't decide to include a new 5.1 mix
with the original mono track.
On the previous release of Stand By Me,
there were no extra features to speak of. This new release more than
makes up for that with a nice set of extras that really complements
the film. Rob Reiner's running commentary is enlightening and, at
times, very funny. He shares a lot about what went into making the
film, working with the actors, location shooting and quite a bit
about the train-dodging scene. It's one of the better commentary
tracks I've listened to recently. The featurette (which runs about
40 minutes) is also very good. There are new interviews with Reiner,
Will Wheaton, Corey Feldman, Jerry O'Connell, Kiefer Sutherland,
Stephen King and others involved in bringing this film to the
screen. The absence of River Phoenix in the documentary is a sad
reminder of his death. A few members of the cast and crew take some
time to talk about his incredible acting ability and his
contribution to Stand By Me.
This is easily the best of the disc's features.
The music video for Stand By Me
is extremely dated and a little on the not-so-exciting side.
Nonetheless, if you absolutely must see Ben E. King lip synch his
song with River Phoenix and Will Wheaton dancing beside him, you
won't be disappointed. Aside from the many subtitle and language
options, you also have the choice of listening to the film's
isolated score (which is basically many variations of the title
song), and you get the usual cast and crew biographies, production
notes and a few "bonus" trailers. The trailer for
Stand By Me is oddly absent
from this disc, and Columbia chose instead to include trailers for
two completely unrelated films - Fly Away
Home and The Karate Kid
(which needs so badly to be re-issued with an anamorphic widescreen
transfer!). The oddest of the features is a menu page devoted solely
to alerting you to the fact that there is a soundtrack for the film.
File that one in the "completely unnecessary" drawer.
This new special edition release of Stand
By Me easily outdoes the previous movie-only edition. A
slight quibble with the sound mix aside, this is a good disc that
will more than likely please die-hard fans. The documentary alone is
enough to satisfy those looking for behind-the-scenes information
about the film. That, in combination with Reiner's audio commentary,
makes this disc well worth the purchase price.