Discover more from R-Rated Movie Club
Sunday Matinee #16 Stand By Me
It takes a village to make sure we all get what we need.
Hey everyone, welcome to another R-Rated Movie Club entry, and thank you for being here. If you’re enjoying this newsletter will you please share it with a friend? This newsletter grows by word of mouth and your support means a lot to me, thank you. A reminder that in my line of work, the leadup to Easter takes my schedule for a loop, so you can look for our April Feature Presentation in the days to come.
It’s a third week, so it’s time to unveil our next Feature Presentation.
Sneak Peek: Our Next Feature Presentation
Well, we had big plans to have “March is Minnesota Month” with A Simple Plan. Then up and came Cocaine Bear to do its coke-fueled thing. That meant a quick switch. But guess what, Dear Reader? May also starts with M, so…
May is Minnesota Month!
The next movie for the Feature Presentation is…
A SIMPLE PLAN.
Yep, as announced for March, this is coming up for May. This quiet thriller is a lesson in how a good story can be a simple plan: take a pile of compelling characters, a pile of money, and pile after pile of problems.
You can read an excerpt soon, followed by the Feature Presentation. I encourage you to watch the movie between now and then. Go to JustWatch to see where to rent or purchase it for streaming. We recently got Paramount+ with Showtime, so that’s how I’m watching it this month.
R-Rated Movie Club is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.
Quotes With Notes
Full Text: Acts 2:42-47 (Revised Common Lectionary)
4th Sunday of Easter (April 30, 2023)
Sign up for a free course at EnterTheBible.org to learn more.
Context: Continuing from last week’s passage, a gathered crowd experiences a powerful event they can’t explain. Jesus’s disciple turned apostle, Simon Peter, has stepped up with his take on it and the crowd embraces his explanation. Now, they become a community.
43 Awe came upon everyone because many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. 44 All who believed were together and had all things in common; 45 they would sell their possessions and goods and distribute the proceeds to all, as any had need.
Stand by Me (1986) | Columbia Pictures, Act III, Act III Communications
Starring Wil Wheaton, River Phoenix, Corey Feldman, Jerry O’Connell
Written by Raynold Gideon, Bruce A. Evans, Stephen King (novella) | Directed by Rob Reiner
Context: Four 12-year-old boys go on a journey into the woods, chatting and reflecting on life along the way. Here, Gordie (Wil Wheaton) resists advice from his friend, Chris (River Phoenix) to be his own person and not let his parents’ neglect write his story for him.
Chris: You're just a kid, Gordie.
Gordie: [Shocked and Angry] Oh, gee! Thanks, Dad!
Chris: Wish the hell I was your dad. You wouldn't be goin' around talkin' about takin' these stupid shop courses if I was. It's like God gave you something, man, all those stories you can make up. And He said, "This is what we got for ya, kid. Try not to lose it." But kids lose everything unless there's someone there to look out for them. And if your parents are too fucked up to do it, then maybe I should.
I’m one of those parents who would typically prefer you to call my kids out on inappropriate behavior or safety issues than to just let it go. If you’re the closest adult and they’re running through the halls, by all means, tell them to walk. You can expect me to do the same for other kids. Maybe that makes me square. It does make me a strong proponent of the “It takes a village” philosophy of parenting, family, and neighborhoods.
These 3 verses are amongst the final few that close out the second chapter of Acts of the Apostles. This entire writing gives insight into what the resurrection of Jesus looked like lived out by the disciples. Not just the disciples, but many whom they encounter. There’s this crowd in chapter 2, but also more to come according to the final sentence of the chapter: “And day by day the Lord added to their number those who were being saved.” This resurrection business is attractive. It gets people motivated. It brings people together. They’re looking out for one another, they’re demonstrating the value of not just being on our own. It takes a village.
Over the years, I’ve heard many people claim they are uneasy with verses 43-45, and especially 45 when everyone sells their stuff and distributes the proceeds to whoever needs them. “Well, that’s just communism!” If you came of age in that post-World War II era, or even during the “Red Scare” era, I can understand why that is one’s first thought. And yet, I find this to be such a flippant response. As if caring more about making sure your neighbor has what they need than any of your horde of stuff is a bad thing? As if looking out for each other is a bad thing? I’d say it’s a pretty good, Spirit-filled thing, indeed. It takes a village.
One of the great joys of Stand By Me is watching the characters’ relationships. There are certainly two pairs, Teddy (Corey Feldman) and Vern (Jerry O’Connell) over here and Chris (River Phoenix) and Gordy (Wil Wheaton) over there. But they each have at least one moment with each other. In this moment on the trail, Gordy refuses to believe Chris when he says they’ll all be separated when the new school year begins that coming Tuesday. They’ll be in different classes, meet different people, and Gordy doesn’t want that. He doesn’t want to write because it makes him different. He doesn’t want to abandon his friends because his parents have emotionally abandoned him - and his brother, tragically killed in an accident, is gone. His village is threatened.
Chris’s pep talk is a reminder that the village has an obligation to step up and help people get what they need. Gordy needs love, encouragement, belonging. He isn’t getting it at home, and Chris offers it. He says why it’s so valuable. He knows from his own experience, his “home village” life is a mess. For Chris, nothing is greater than looking out for one another. Here, Gordy’s village must be reborn.
Stand By Me was one of my first R-rated movies. I was likely 8 or 9 the first time I saw it on VHS, when it was still relatively new. I remember being immediately taken with these “older boys,” these four boys on the verge of becoming teenagers who talked and swore like adults but also cried like little kids. Now that I’ve lived through their “older boys” stage and have at least one child near that age, I understand a little more that swearing isn’t all that grown-up and little kids aren’t the only people who cry. Thank God for the villages where we can feel safe to cry.
All throughout the years, this moment has resonated with me. If you read the original novella by Stephen King, which is wonderful, you’ll find this movie quote is almost verbatim from the book. It’s become an important talking point in our home with our kids as they look out for each other and their friends. If you need another lived-out example, scan through the Wikipedia entry on the movie’s development and how many people worked hard to get this movie started, funded, and distributed. Talk about taking a village!
If it’s true that kids lose everything unless there's someone there to look out for them, and through the awe of the Spirit people will rid themselves of selfishness to help others get what they need, that isn’t communism. That is the village.
Thank God for the village.
Be kind to yourself and watch out for each other. May what you seek be found, and may what is found have an abundance of love at its center. And to today’s preachers, may the sermon you crafted and the prayers you lift reveal the everlasting presence of the Holy Spirit. God’s peace and good movies to you!