Movie Project #22: Stand By Me [1986]

50 Movies Project #4: Contemporary Edition

The 50 Movies Project is an annual tradition at The Warning Sign. Every year, I select 50 movies that I feel I must see in order to continue my progression as a film lover. This year I’m focusing on contemporary films (1980 to present day) that I somehow haven’t gotten around to seeing yet.

Stand By Me [1986]

Stand By Me [1986]
Director: Rob Reiner
Writers: Stephen King (novel), Raynold Gideon (screenplay), Bruce A. Evans (screenplay)
Country: USA
Genre: Adventure/Drama
Starring: Wil Wheaton, River Phoenix, Corey Feldman, Jerry O’Connell
Running Time: 89 minutes

Rob Reiner’s Stand By Me, an adaptation of Stephen King’s novella The Body, is a favorite of many, but it took some time for me to warm up to to this coming-of-age tale.

Set in the 1950s, the film early on feels like it’s trying a bit too hard to provide that bubbly feeling of nostalgia. Songs such as “Rockin’ Robin” play in the background as our protagonists, a group of 12-13 year old boys, play cards, smoke cigarettes and mess around with guns. They represent a time since past, and Reiner does everything in his power to make us feel sentimental about this era. It’s all a bit much at first.

It was the kids that wound up winning me over on the film.

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Piranha [2010]

Piranha [2010]

Piranha [2010]
Directors: Alexandre Aja
Genre: Comedy/Horror/Thriller
Language: English
Country: USA

Tits and blood. Blood and tits.

Piranha sells itself largely on being mindless entertainment, with a steady mix of T&A and violence. The story certainly has little thought put into it — prehistoric piranhas are unearthed in Lake Havasu via an earthquake, and they come back to terrorize everyone in the water, including dozens involved in a Girls Gone Wild-esque video shoot. This is a movie that doesn’t need a meaningful story, just a background for the copious amounts of the aforementioned tits and blood.

I went into this movie expecting it to be pretty hilarious while delivering some good ol’ fashioned gore. Unfortunately, there is little in the way of humor, and the gore doesn’t really become a factor until the second half of the movie. The first half is basically softcore porn, with lots of naked women rumaging about. While I’m not one to complain about gratuitous nudity, there just isn’t a whole lot going on during this part, and it is actually a bit of a bore. Things pick up in the second half when the piranhas descend upon the masses at the beach, and there are a number of great cringe-worthy gore effects used during the chaos. The problem is that it just takes too long to get anywhere.

What makes this movie stand out amongst other B-movie trash is its surprisingly impressive cast. Elisabeth Shue has one of the main roles as the town’s sheriff. Jerry O’Connell plays the douche bag porn director, and is more than effective at being annoying. Ving Rhames has a small role as a deputy, and he is responsible for one of the best scenes in the movie (let’s just say he did his part in fighting back against the piranhas). Christopher Lloyd is entertaining as a crazed marine biologist. Somehow even Richard Dreyfuss got roped into this movie, although his early cameo is wasted with a weak CGI scene. Throw in a handful of porn stars and you have the makings for a big-time B-movie.

I wish I had seen Piranha in 3D at a packed theater — that really seems to be the best way to experience this movie. While I enjoy some good camp from time to time, Piranha doesn’t hold up very well on DVD. I can’t help but feel this could have been better with just a little more focus, and less of a decisive split between the two halves of the movie. If you are tempted, give it a shot with plenty of booze and friends on hand; otherwise, I can’t say this is worth your time.