(1986)4Brendon HanleyA likable film punctuated by standout performances, Stand by Me is an interesting variation on the standard coming-of-age period film. Based on a short story by Stephen King, Stand by Me deals with preteen concerns instead of teen ones. Director Rob Reiner successfully keeps the nostalgia and sentimentality in check; and he places a remarkable amount of faith in his young cast. Of the four leads, River Phoenix and Wil Wheaton deliver sensitive, complex performances which belie their age. Jerry O'Connell and teen heartthrob Corey Feldman round out the cast, and Kiefer Sutherland and John Cusack appear in small but memorable roles. For Reiner, the film was a significant shift in tone after the comedies This Is Spinal Tap (1984) and The Sure Thing (1985). It marked his first attempt at more serious fare; his success with the comedy drama of Stand by Me would pave the way for his later hits, When Harry Met Sally (1989) and Misery (1990).