Squid Soup August 2014–Stand By Me

MOCK! and The Armchair Squid are proud to introduce Mock Squid Soup: A Film Society. Each month, on the second Friday, we shall host a bloghop devoted to a particular movie. We invite others to watch the same film and post their own reviews.

So, today I’m departing from books (slightly) to chat about movies. For one, I found a blog hop hosted by The Armchair Squid and MOCK! celebrating a movie from my childhood: STAND BY ME. Secondly, I want to rant/rave over some adaptations recently out, or in development.

To begin, my review of STAND BY ME…

This movie premiered two weeks before I began 7th grade, back in the summer of 1986. I had just completed my growth spurt topping me at 5’3″–still my height today and woefully small even at 12. I had been, and remained, one of the shortest kids in my junior high. But I digress…

SBM was a turning point movie for me. Mostly because I was unfortunately rechristened “Vern”–in deference to the fat, stupid, hideously awkward character played by an appallingly young and not-nearly-showcasing-his-future-deliciousness Jerry O’Connell in this movie. It was a sad occurence, for me–a young, thin, short, smart…uh, GIRL who didn’t have the strength of fist to defend herself from the random “Hey there, Verno!” hallway catcalls.

At first, I didn’t know what was going on–until I ventured to the local Dollar Theater and had my mind blown. I remember the awe of seeing Wil Wheaton, River Phoenix, Corey Feldman and that weird-looking other kid (O’Connell) along with BOTH a swoony John Cusack and a to-die-for Bad Boy Kiefer Sutherland and thinking YES!!! See, the puberty hormones were already turning my brain sideways–I did mention my growth spurt ending, right?–and there’s a scene in this movie…

Ahh, yes, that’s the one! Where Gordie (Wheaton) must reach into his wet underwear to dislodge a blood-engorged leach from his junk and I thought…whoa. (Don’t judge–this was the 80’s! and I was 12…)

Okay, so the story goes this way: It’s 1959 and four intrepid friends—Gordie, Chris, Teddy and Vern–want to recover the body of a missing boy, Ray Brower. They know he’s dead because Vern has overheard his brother confess to seeing the body near some railroad tracks several miles from home. Vern’s brother won’t tell the cops because he found the body when he was joyriding in a stolen car, but Gordie & Co think retrieving the body will make them heroes.

These boys are all about to begin high school, all have trouble at home, and all need the company and comradery of each other to keep their demons at bay. Being heroes would go a long way toward making their sad worlds brighter. The boys go on a weekend “camp out” to track down the body and claim their glory. Along the way, each boy comes to terms with the realities of the destructive forces in their lives. It is a sweet coming-of-age tale with the back drop of nostalgia of lost innocence and harkening back to a time many consider to be America’s “Golden Age”.

Being a Gen X’er I don’t have the same opinion of the movie’s period, but I could sure dig the movie itself. It was likely a combination of hormones (mine) and heart (the movie’s). Richard Dreyfuss narrates, telling the tale as an adult Gordie, recounting this trip as the defining moment of his youth. It is based upon a Steven King book, The Body.

STAND BY ME is one of those touchstone movies of my youth that I will never forget. The interplay of the boys’ vulnerability and their burgeoning bravado was catnip to the young girl I was, then. They talked about girls. They talked about life. They CRIED.  And, they swore. A lot. All of this scandalized me to my Christian roots. There is humor–a total and complete barf-a-rama. That pretty much sums it up.

Please stop in at the other blogs reviewing this film. I’m sure their reviews will be better–and undoubtedly less boy-crazy–than mine.

1. The Armchair Squid 2. mainewords
3. Cherdo on the Flipside 4. MOCK!
5. The ToiBox of Words 6. V’s Reads

To continue my movie ranting, I’ve got two other topics rattling around in my brain. First, OUTLANDER.

The STARZ miniseries adaptation airs tomorrow. I have read (and loved) the Outlander series. I am a Jamie Fraser/Claire Randall Fraser devotee. I have actually watched the first episode–as it was available on Starz.com all week. And I liked it.

Now, however, I’m nervous about fan backlash. Diana Gabaldon is a consultant to the show and has been giving it her seal of approval, but–as is wont to happen–purists will likely complain. See, the first episode captures the spirit of OUTLANDER, but it’s naturally condensed. Events happen a bit faster than I recall them unfolding in the book. Other scenes didn’t happen at all, yet remain true to the storyline nonetheless.

Will this be a problem?

It wasn’t for me. I’m not the gal to get hung up on casting choices–mainly because I couldn’t name any of ten popular actors under age 30, and I’m okay with that. My world doesn’t revolve around Hollywood.

But some folks are obsessed with WHO should play WHOM in a movie, and I fear this negativity may cause watchers to spurn a promising show that I’ve LONGED FOR since I first read Outlander seven years ago.

Which brings me to my SECOND point: FIFTY SHADES OF GREY.

Lookit, I read the books. They are fun and entertaining. They are arousing and intriguing. They are NOT good literature. And yet the legions of fans in complete meltdowns over the film’s cast is mind-boggling.

It weirds me out thinking that people discard a movie featuring a book they love because they “can’t see” a certain actor in the role. I will admit, I’m put-off by the “dream cast” posts I see for books these days. I guess it is because I almost don’t care about the appearance of a character in a story–I desire only so much detail to give me an IDEA of their appearance so I can imagine them in their space–but beyond that it is the character I fall for, not the image of the character.

If an actor is incompetent or not sufficient to the challenge, well, we’ll all see that on the screen. It’s my thought that a movie is separate from a book, as a work of fiction. I like to believe that a book inspires a movie, but doesn’t replace it as a work. Each must be judged on its own merit.

The HUNGER GAMES movies are good. Like the Harry Potter movies, they are mainly true to the books, yet have a whole different appeal. I’m not trying to sway anybody’s opinion either way about adaptations of books to film. I will likely always prefer the book, but I can also appreciate the movie in its own right.

That said, I’m pretty sure I know where I’ll be come Valentine’s 2015.

Anywho, I’ve rambled enough. I’d love to hear any comments you have on STAND BY ME, OUTLANDER, FSOG or movie adaptations of books. Drop me a line, and keep reading my friends! 🙂