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River Phoenix (#110 of 11)

Computer Nerds As Superheroes Sneakers at 25

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Computer Nerds As Superheroes: Sneakers at 25

Universal Pictures

Computer Nerds As Superheroes: Sneakers at 25

Phil Alden Robinson’s Sneakers is a comic-book movie where the superpowers employed are mental, not physical. Its plot and structure will be familiar to anyone who’s spent any time in the Marvel or DC Universes: A group of uniquely skilled folks from different backgrounds join forces to combat a more powerful, ominous enemy. There’s an overlong yet enjoyable climactic battle where each hero gets a moment to shine; the bad guys aren’t so much defeated as they’re temporarily contained; and the film’s ending hints that the heroes will continue to fight for their brand of justice. Sneakers even has Robert Redford, whom today’s youngsters will recognize from his work in the best of the Marvel movies, Captain America: The Winter Soldier.

Summer of ‘86: Stand By Me, Take Two

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Summer of ‘86: <em>Stand By Me</em>, Take Two
Summer of ‘86: <em>Stand By Me</em>, Take Two

During the summer of 1986, my friends and I all thought Stand By Me was the greatest movie ever made, and we were sure it had been made for us, because though the characters in the film were a year or two older than we were, and though the story was set during our parents’ teenage years, we could all see ourselves in one of the four main characters. No film had ever seemed more real to me, more true, more beautiful. I was ten years old.

I know I saw Stand By Me in the theater, but I don’t remember with whom. Probably a couple of friends and at least one of our parents, because it was rated R and we were years away from being able to go to R movies on our own. How did we ever convince a parent to take us to a movie in which kids swear, smoke, and talk about sex? I have no recollection, but I expect it had something to do with the music.

The summer of ’86 for me was the summer of Stand By Me’s songs. Before seeing the movie, I scrounged up some money, or wore my parents down with whining, and got the soundtrack on LP. I remember my father’s delight with the album. He took a big cardboard box of 45 rpm records out of the closet and showed me the original singles of some of the songs on the album, singles he had bought at a record store when he was the age of Gordie and Chris and Teddy and Vern. I think I wanted the soundtrack because I had seen the music video on MTV, and I had certainly seen the trailer, which was ubiquitous on every channel. The title song was inescapable that summer, and though the brief scene with Corey Feldman and Jerry O’Connell lipsynching “Lollipop” is not in the trailer, I’m sure it was used in promotional materials. That song and Buddy Holly’s “Everyday,” also used prominently in the film, were two my father was especially nostalgic for.

Summer of ‘86: I Ran All The Way Home: Stand By Me, Take One

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Summer of ‘86: I Ran All The Way Home: <em>Stand By Me</em>, Take One
Summer of ‘86: I Ran All The Way Home: <em>Stand By Me</em>, Take One

Five years ago, I wrote a piece for House Next Door entitled “Boys Do Cry.” Its subject was movies at which men could cry with impunity. Keep in mind this was before John Boehner figured out that manipulative crocodile tears would do for him what they’ve done for women since Eve; society still frowned upon male bawling, especially about movies. Since I expected to be the only person “man enough” to admit shedding tears at celluloid, I chided our male readers, writing “if you’re a real man, you’ll chime in with your own choices.” My goal was to mock and deconstruct stupid macho bullshit codes by confronting one of them directly. I was warned the experiment could backfire, but just like a man, I didn’t listen. You can read the comments section under “Boys Do Cry” for the results of my pig-headedness. I mention it here because the last film in that piece’s list was Stand by Me.

Based on The Body, a novella from the same Stephen King work that would later yield The Shawshank Redemption and Apt Pupil (Different Seasons), Stand by Me was the second King adaptation appearing in the summer of 1986. Another story from a different collection became King’s directorial debut, Maximum Overdrive. King described Overdrive as “a moron movie,” which made 16-year-old Odie moronic because I kinda liked it. While some of the directorial choices are intriguing, Maximum Overdrive feels made by someone with a head full of raw steak.