The last days of the young summer friendship are traced with incisive depth and wise humor in support me, Rob Reiner’s superlative dramatization of Stephen King’s short story “The Body.” As in his sources, Reiner’s story concerns four best friends who, on Labor Day weekend 1959, learn where the corpse of a missing classmate is and set off on foot through the forests and the countryside surrounding their hometown of Castle Rock, Oregon. find it. Their story is told in flashback by Gordie (Richard Dreyfuss as an adult, Wil Wheaton as an adult), who recounts his memories of that fateful journey alongside his three pals: Chris (River Phoenix), who is seen by the locals as a troublemaker thanks to his well-meaning little brother; Teddy (Corey Feldman), whose “crazy” World War II vet father cruelly burned his ear and earned him a reputation as a madman; and Vern (Jerry O’Connell), the chubby sidekick who bears the brunt of the beatings and unholy insults of Teddy, Chris and Gordie.
Theirs is a genuine, saucy report, full of name-calling, manhood challenges, and other assorted teasing and ridicule that rings true to the many ways the boys bond through verbal abuse. In its vomiting campfire tales and races to avoid being run over by high-speed trains, the film proves to be a touching depiction of teenage camaraderie. All four damaged by family trauma – most clearly Gordie, whose parents emotionally excluded him after the death of his favorite older brother (John Cusack) – the four children embarked on their odyssey driven by a common morbid curiosity. Yet the screenplay by Bruce A. Evans and Raynold Gideon subtly suggests that what really drives them all is an interest in confronting, first-hand, their own mortality. [Nick Schager]