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Stand by Me: Deluxe Edition

If you were ever a 12-year-old boy, Stand by Me (1986) will bring back nostalgic memories; if you weren't, it will make you wish with all your heart that you had been. Either way, viewer's come out of Rob Reiner's classic coming-of-age tale (based on Stephen King's novella The Body) longing for the days when summer vacation lasted forever and the most important conversations were about exactly what kind of animal Goofy is, anyway. Stand by Me is narrated by a grown-up Gordie Lachance (Richard Dreyfuss), whose trip down memory lane is prompted by the violent death of a childhood friend. That friend, we discover, was one of three who accompanied Gordie on a quest to see the body of a missing kid. The foursome — smart, would-be writer Gordie (Wil Wheaton); level-headed, resourceful Chris (River Phoenix); loose cannon Teddy (Corey Feldman); and pudgy, motor-mouthed Vern (Jerry O'Connell), whose chance discovery of the body's location spurs the group into action — brave trains, leeches, junkyard dogs, and more on their journey, which turns out to be more about discovering themselves than seeing poor dead Ray. All four stars give strong, heartfelt performances; watching Phoenix fall apart in the scene in which Chris tells Gordie about an unexpected betrayal, it's impossible not to wonder how far Phoenix would have risen if he had lived (who would have thought in 1986 that O'Connell would end up being the one with the best career?). The supporting cast is full of familiar faces, too, from Kiefer Sutherland as violent teenage villain Ace to John Cusack as Gordie's dead older brother, Denny. Stand by Me is the kind of movie that's so honest about what it was like to be a kid — albeit one in a golden-hued world that moves to the old-fashioned beat of its oldies soundtrack — that it's hard to fully appreciate it until you're an adult. Those who watched the movie when they were kids should give it another spin now; it's one of the few '80s movies with an all-kid cast that really holds up two decades down the line. Columbia TriStar's Deluxe Edition DVD presents the film in a remastered anamorphic transfer (1.85:1) with Dolby Digital 2.0 audio (French, Spanish, and Portuguese tracks are also available, as are an array of subtitles). Extras on the movie disc include Reiner's audio commentary, a "making-of" featurette ("Walking the Line: The Summer of Stand by Me"), a music video for the title track, trailers, a soundtrack spot, cast-and-crew career highlights, and an isolated music score. The Deluxe Edition also tosses in a soundtrack CD and a 32-page collectible booklet filled with production notes, cast bios, and still pictures. Dual-DVD slimline keep-case, with paperboard sleeve.
—Betsy Bozdech

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