Review: Stand By Me 25th Anniversary Blu-ray

Sony | DIRECTOR: Rob Reiner | CAST: Wil Wheaton, River Phoenix, Corey Feldman, Jerry O’Connell, Kiefer Sutherland
RELEASE DATE: 3/22/11 | PRICE: Blu-ray $24.95
BONUSES: audio and video commentaries, featurette, music video
SPECS: R | 87 min. | Adventure drama | 1.85:1 widescreen | 5.1 DTS HD Master Audio | English, French, Portuguese and Spanish subtitles

RATINGS (out of 5): Movie | Audio | Video | Overall

Stand By Me movie scene

The boys are back in Stand By Me.

Stand By Me, Rob Reiner’s 1986 favorite about a group of four young buddies–Wil Wheaton (TV’s The Guild), Corey Feldman (The Goonies), River Phoenix (My Own Private Idaho) and Jerry O’Connell (Piranha)—who set out on an adventure to find the body of a missing teenager hasn’t lost its appeal as it celebrates its 25th Anniversary. The movie’s Blu-ray is reason enough to celebrate its gentle, nostalgic charms.

The image quality of the Blu-ray edition is well above average without being overdone, sort of like the film itself. Textured and colorful, the blue skies, wooded landscapes and dusty roads are integral backdrops to the story, but they’re not supposed to take attention away from the boys who are its center. So, Stand By Me really shouldn’t “pop” like other titles that frequently turn up the candy-color factor when they’re released on Blu-ray. The strength here comes from the subtlety of the natural surroundings, the DVD producers have wisely shown some restraint.

The audio quality is excellent and, again, not over-the-top. Who wants to hear blasting versions of such gentle vintage tunes as The Chordettes’ “Lollipop,” Buddy Holly’s “Everyday” and Ben E. King’s title track, anyway?

The Blu-ray’s sole new bonus feature is a video commentary/reunion with Reiner and stars Wheaton and Feldman. The three are filmed as they meet in a studio, exchange some “How are you’s?” and then don their earphones to watch the movie and record the track. They talk about the filming and reminisce, with Feldman occasionally getting carried away and talking about all the partying he did over the years with his late co-star River Phoenix.

Overall, though, it’s a pleasant track. But is it necessary for it to be a video commentary? When accessed, the video track covers the lower right eighth of the screen and is quite distracting. And you can’t quickly toggle between the video commentary and regular viewing of the film, so going back and forth between the two is a real pain. So, though it’s well-intentioned and initially entertaining, there’s really no need for the video aspect of the feature. A second audio commentary track featuring the three participants and maybe a quick little video of their initial reunion would have served the same purpose without sacrificing a chunk of the film’s visibility and upping the potential annoyance factor.

All the other bonuses — Reiner’s audio commentary, a half-hour-long retrospective featurette, and a vintage music video — were been imported from Sony’s 2000 DVD edition of the film.


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About Laurence

Founder and editor Laurence Lerman saw Alfred Hitchcock’s North by Northwest when he was 13 years old and that’s all it took. He has been writing about film and video for more than a quarter of a century for magazines, anthologies, websites and most recently, Video Business magazine, where he served as the Reviews Editor for 15 years.