Author Gordie Lachance reads in the newspaper that his childhood friend Chris Chambers has been stabbed to death. Gordie narrates a flashback (later revealed to be Gordie writing) to a childhood incident when he and three buddies undertook a journey to find the body of a missing boy near the town of Castle Rock, Oregon, over Labor Day weekend in 1959.
Young Gordie is a quiet, bookish boy who likes to tell stories. His parents, grieving the recent death of Gordie’s older brother Denny, neglect their younger son. Gordie’s friends are Chris, who comes from a family of drunks and criminals; Teddy Duchamp, a joker who was burned and physically scarred by his mentally ill father; and Vern Tessio, who is overweight and timid.
Vern overhears his older brother Billy and his friend Charlie Hogan discussing Ray Brower, a young boy who is missing and presumed dead. Gordie, Chris, Teddy, and Vern decide to find Ray’s body, hoping to become local heroes. Chris steals his father’s M1911 pistol, and the boys set out, stopping at the town’s junkyard to drink from its water pump. The boys hang out in the junkyard for a while, while Gordie leaves to buy food for the journey. When Gordie returns, he sees his friends jumping the fence to escape Milo Pressman, the junkman, and his dog Chopper. Gordie escapes as well. Pressman, infuriated, threatens to call the boys’ parents and calls Teddy’s father a “loony”; an enraged Teddy attempts to attack Pressman, but the boys restrain him and they leave.
At nighttime, Gordie tells the other boys a story of Davie “Lard-Ass” Hogan, an overweight boy who is constantly teased and bullied. Hogan enters a pie-eating contest, but his goal was not to win, but to exact revenge. Prior to the contest, Hogan consumed a full bottle of castor oil and a raw egg. After eating several pies and briefly dominating the contest, Hogan vomits, inducing the vomiting of the contestants and crowd members, humiliating and embarrassing his tormentors.
After a series of misadventures and self-revelations, the boys locate the body. However, local hoodlum “Ace” Merrill and his gang, including Chris’ older brother “Eyeball” Chambers, arrive to claim the body and the credit for finding it. When Chris refuses to allow this, Ace draws a switchblade with intent to kill him, but Gordie intervenes with the pistol Chris had stolen. Ace and his gang leave and Ace vows revenge.
The boys agree to report the body via an anonymous phone call to the authorities and hike back to Castle Rock and bid each other farewell until they see each other in a few days, in the local junior high school.
The present-day Gordie writes that while he and Chris remained friends, they drifted apart from Teddy and Vern shortly after that day. Gordie notes how everyone’s life turned out: Vern married immediately after high school, has four children, and drives a forklift at a local lumberyard. Teddy tried enlisting in the Army but was turned down because of bad eyesight and an ear injury; he later served time in prison and now does odd jobs around town. Chris went to college and became a lawyer; when attempting to break up a fight in a fast-food restaurant, he was stabbed to death.
After finishing the story, adult Gordie, a successful, published writer, walks outside and drives away with his son and his son’s friend to take them swimming.
Stand by Me is a 1986 American coming-of-age film directed by Rob Reiner and starring Wil Wheaton, River Phoenix, Corey Feldman, and Jerry O’Connell. The film is based on Stephen King’s 1982 novella The Body. Its title is derived from Ben E. King’s eponymous song, which plays over the ending credits.
Stand by Me tells the story of four boys in a small town in Oregon who go on a hike to find the dead body of a missing child. The film was nominated for one Academy Award (for Best Adapted Screenplay) and two Golden Globe Awards (for Best Motion Picture-Drama and Best Director, respectively).