I thought it would be a good time to repost this top ten for one of my all-time favorite movies, Stand By Me, as today would’ve been River Phoenix’s 51st birthday (R.I.P. – I’m still upset over that celebrity death). I’m reposting some of the posts I did for blogs that are no longer running. You can currently still see this original post at Silver Screen Serenade HERE.
I find it difficult to talk about my “all-time favorite movies” as I could never do them justice. So, like My Top Ten Star Wars Dismemberments post for Silver Screen Serenade, I decided to just do another Top Ten of a favorite movie of mine.
I’d like to say a little bit about this movie, though. Stand By Me is very special to me. I love movies (obviously) but there aren’t too many that I’ve watched over and over and over and over again. There were really only two that I re-watched to a slightly disturbing & unhealthy degree: Aliens & Stand By Me.
Both out in 1986, these movies came along at a time in my life when I was a latchkey kid & only child (well, I’m still an only child). Our house was also very cold so my routine went something like this during the winter months at the ages of 12-14: Get home from school, turn the heating on, stick Stand By Me into the VCR (if it wasn’t already in there), grab a blanket, sit right up against the heating in the wall, and watch the 90 minute Stand By Me which would finish just in time for the parent to get home. It usually took until the junkyard scene for our old heating to finally warm me up.
Anyway, it was Stand By Me until I discovered Aliens. And to this day I’m still in trouble for having that playing when my mom got home one time & walked in to see the chest-burster scene. God, it wasn’t even that bad! It was much more tame than the one in Alien. At least she never saw my next after-school obsession: A Nightmare On Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors.
Wow – I’ve just made my early-teen self sound really pathetic. At least I wasn’t drinking & doing drugs, right?! Or searching for dead bodies…
As for Stand By Me, I never got in trouble for watching that one. In fact, I made my mom & grandma watch it with me once and they loved it. Why? Because it’s really good.
You have Rob Reiner & Stephen King, my two favorite people in their professions. You have a coming-of-age tale (I’ve always liked those) with a group of friends who were the same age as I was when I first watched this (I had a crush on them all except Vern, of course). You have a great voiceover from Richard Dreyfuss, the always adorable John Cusack in a small role, and a beautiful, bittersweet ending that may have made me cry a few times (okay – it did). A movie’s ending is very important to me as I think so many get it wrong but the ending of Stand By Me is perfection (as is The Princess Bride’s – thank you, Rob Reiner!). Finally, I love the 1959 setting and the music that was chosen for this film (especially the title song). I think it’s something that helps Stand By Me feel timeless in a way and made it something that could be loved by an ’80s kid as well as by her mother and grandmother.
I did eventually stop obsessively watching Stand By Me but I’ll never forget walking back from a college party with a guy one night when he suddenly said “Did you hear that River Phoenix died?”. It wasn’t like now where you can easily go online to check so I hoped he was wrong until I later saw a news story confirming it was true. That will always be the one celebrity death that really upset me as he was kind of a big part of my own coming-of-age years. Phoenix was amazing as Chris Chambers, especially considering his young age, and I still wish we’d been able to see much more of his work.
Huh. I guess I actually said quite a bit about Stand By Me! One of the slightly shocking things about Stand By Me, at the time, was the amount of swearing. And I loved it. This is a coming-of-age tale involving a group of four small-town boys. Guess what? Boys actually swear & say horrible things to each other! These characters felt real to me – they weren’t made to be PG-rated characters we wouldn’t buy into. This was rated R, right? Pardon my French but that’s fucking ridiculous. This is a beautiful movie about life, death, friendship, and growing up. Every 13-year-old should see Stand By Me.
Now let’s take a look at some of the horrible things that young boys say to each other! Here are My Top Ten Stand By Me Insults:
10. Piss up a rope!
Okay – I’ve never been entirely sure if this an insult or even what the hell it means exactly. Gordie loses a card game & shouts “Piss up a rope!” so I was never fully sure if he was telling the other guys to do that or if it was a way of saying “Shit!“, Either way, I like it even though it doesn’t really make any sense.
9. You four-eyed pile of shit!
Chris: You four-eyed pile of shit!
Teddy: A pile of shit has a thousand eyes.
With this one, it’s not the insult I like so much as the response. The two best characters, of course, are Wheaton’s Gordie & Phoenix’s Chris but Feldman was also great as the messed-up Teddy. He was slightly nuts & had some funny lines such as the one above, to the amusement of the other characters.
8. Then you won’t mind if we check the seat of your jockies for Hershey squirts, will you?
Vern: I wasn’t that scared. I wasn’t. Sincerely.
Gordie: Okay. Then you won’t mind if we check the seat of your jockies for Hershey squirts, will you?
Vern: Go screw.
Ha! Hershey squirts. Pants-pooping! Hershey squirts is just a really funny thing to say…
7. I’m gonna rip your head off and shit down your neck!
Another Teddy line, this one isn’t funny but sad. Is it a horrible thing to say? Yes, but it’s a great Teddy moment and you can feel how upset he is when he says this to the man who has just called his father a “looney”. Seeing how these boys were all “damaged” in some way helped to make them all the more believable and helped the audience relate to and care about them.
6. You use your left hand or right hand to do that?
Teddy: Okay, you guys can go around if you want. I’m crossing here. And while you guys are dragging your candy asses half way across the state and back, I’ll be waiting on the other side, relaxing with my thoughts.
Gordie: You use your left hand or right hand to do that?
Teddy: You wish.
Okay, I’m not sure if I entirely understood this one when I was young & watching this over & over again. But I think it get it now…. ! *no further comment*
5. Yeah, but you’re gonna be stupid for the rest of your life.
Teddy: This is my age! I’m in the prime of my youth, and I’ll only be young once!
Chris: Yeah, but you’re gonna be stupid for the rest of your life.
This is actually a very sweet moment in the film & the line is delivered in a way that says “I love you guys but I can’t say that because we’re male so I’m going to tease you instead to show you that I care”. As the voiceover says “I never had any friends later on like the ones I had when I was twelve. Jesus, does anyone?”
4. Lardass! Lardass! (Boom-baba Boom-baba)
Again, it’s not so much the insult that I like in this case but the moment. I love this bit of the film. It’s so juvenile & immature but it’s exactly the type of story that I’d expect a group of 12-year-old boys to enjoy. And I love the disgustingly awesome revenge of “Lardass”.
3. Why don’t you go home and fuck your mother some more?
Is this an awful thing to say? Yes. Have I heard real-life boys say similar (and much much worse)? YES! Along with my number one choice, it’s an important part of the movie, though, which I’ll discuss a bit more when I get to that one…
2. I don’t shut up, I grow up. And when I look at you, I throw up!
Teddy: You’re a real wet end, Lachance.
Gordie: Shut up.
Teddy/Vern/Chris: I don’t shut up, I grow up. And when I look at you, I throw up!
Gordie: And then your mother goes around the corner and she licks it up.
That final reply is good as well but I love the rhyming insult the three boys do together even more. Certainly much more innocent than the previous insult, I like the immaturity of this one and how it reminds us that these four boys are still just kids.
1. Suck my fat one, you cheap dime store hood
Anyone who has seen this movie probably already knew that this would be number one. It’s good for a number of reasons. First of all, it’s not exactly the greatest ever insult. Suck my fat one? Cheap dime store hood?? Nice try, though, Gordie! It’s likely something he’ll have read in some sort of pulp comic of the time and he’s trying to sound grown-up by saying it. And unlike a lot of the other insults, it’s delivered with absolutely no humor. Along with my third choice, this is the climactic moment in which these four boys have to make a stand (by me! ha!). It’s one of the many “growing up” moments in the film and these young boys deal with this in the only way they really know how at this age (by telling people to suck their fat ones & to go and fuck their own mothers).
Well, hopefully you enjoyed this post as much as I enjoyed putting it together. Maybe someday I’ll manage to do a proper review of Stand By Me and try to explain why I still love it so much.