That makes me think of all of the movies where a band of different adventurers come together in the name of a quest. There's actually a lot more than you would think, ranging from the ragtag group of time-traveling little people who snag hapless Kevin out of bed and into their hijinx in Time Bandits, to the motley group of kids in The Goonies who set out to find One-Eyed Willy's treasure.
There's also a slew of movies that deals with role-playing games. From Tom Hank's first starring role in Mazes and Monsters – based on the book of the same name, which is in turn based on events detailed in the investigative crime book The Dungeon Master – all the way to the documentary The Dungeon Masters, which I highlighted on the Joystiq Box Office a couple of years ago.
But without a great film that combines both a group of adventurers and the role-playing experience, at least until The Knights of Badassdom finally comes out, I'm applying the tried and true archetypes of adventure-partying to the classic Stand By Me.
Stand By Me is based on the novella The Body from Stephen King. What kicks the film's story into motion is a missing boy, and our adventurers assemble in order to try and find him – or his body. It's a bit gruesome, to be sure, but it's a monumental task in their small town.
- The Paladin - Chris Chambers: Chris is tough on the outside, but underneath his hardened exterior and beyond his troubles with a family of alcoholics and criminals he has a sense of great justice. He knows what is right and wrong, and tries to stay on the right side of things, even becoming a lawyer later in life.
- The Bard - Gordie Lachance: Although Chris is the one with the swagger and bravado, Gordie is obviously the brains of the operation, and he's the one that holds the gang together. He entertains his band of merry men with stories, later becoming a writer, and when the climax comes, he's the one who steps forward and saves the day.
- The Rogue - Teddy Duchamp: Although Teddy comes from an equally as difficult background as Chris does, he buffers himself up with a mouth that never stops. He's the comic of the group, and while he isn't the first in line to fight, he has a tough streak that shouldn't be messed with. He yearns to join the military, and is the only member of the group who really shines on guard duty.
- The Healer - Vern Tessio: Despite Teddy's motormouth, Vern is the real source of humor in the group. His eager-to-please attitude and smiling, chubby face are so earnest that you can't help but pull for the guy. The group takes great pleasure in making fun of Vern, and in doing so he keeps their spirits up.
- The Villain - Ace Merrill: As far as bad guys go, Ace Merrill has his own gang of underlings and complete disregard for law and morals, and he's armed with a switchblade. He's scary enough to most adults, let alone a band of pre-teen boys. Which is why he has to be taken down in order to get the loot. It just happens to be a dead boy's body here.
Stand By Me is one of those films where the journey itself is the destination. The missing boy's body is just a MacGuffin, a plot device that moves the characters forward. But ultimately, it isn't worth anything to them, even though they are willing to sacrifice everything to protect it. Instead, the real loot they come away with is their friendship with each other. Like any good party, they've learned to rely on each other, and each one of them strengthens the other.
Where You Can Watch Stand By Me
The only watch instantly option for Stand By Me is on Amazon, where you can watch the film right now for $9.99 in SD and $14.99 in HD, which is compatible with streaming on your Xbox 360 or PlayStation 3. You can also find the film on the Xbox 360 for 800 points to buy in SD ($10.00), and on the PlayStation 3 for $10 as well, only in SD.
If you're looking for physical media, you can pick up the film's Special Edition DVD for only $7.91, but as usual, we're recommending the Blu-ray version, which you can get for $18.93. It only came out last year, and it includes an absolutely incredible picture-in-picture commentary with director Rob Reiner, and actors Wil Wheaton and Corey Feldman. It runs the entire length of the film, and more than justifies the twenty bucks you would spend on this edition.
There's also a standard commentary from Reiner, as well as an older Walking the Tracks: The Summer of Stand By Me piece that includes Stephen King, as well as some of the actors, including Wil Wheaton, Jerry O'Connell, Corey Feldman, Kiefer Sutherland and Richard Dreyfuss. It also looks and sounds fantastic in HD (the picture-in-picture commentary is in HD as well), and if you want to sink yourself into this movie along with some classic Wheaton, Blu-ray is the way to go.
No matter how you choose to watch it, give Stand By Me a whirl and decide if you would want these guys in your next party. Personally, I'd want Teddy Duchamp on my any day. At least until he totally goes Leroy Jenkins on us and flips out, ruining our chance at epic tier items.
Kevin Kelly is a writer and pop culture junkie with a fixation on video games, movies, and board games. His writing has been seen at Moviefone, io9, Film School Rejects, TechRadar, Wizard World, G4, and The Austin Chronicle. He lives in Los Angeles and does not know how to surf. Follow him on Twitter @kevinkelly.