Classic buried deep within
A classic from the 80ies, an adaptation from a Stephen King short story? My expectations were pretty high, considering the good reviews the movie got. But in the end it left me not only disappointed, but without any real emotions about it, wondering what the big deal is.
Young guns with slow fire burning
The story about a couple of kids, told from one of them as an adult, who want to find a mysterious dead body somewhere might not be the best 6+ age material (here’s looking at you, FSK, what WERE you thinking?), especially with lots of cursing and smoking going on, but let’s not get overly patronizing. After all, at its heart it’s not really a crime story or even an adventure story like The Goonies, but a portrait of the 50ies in an American small town, from the kids’ perspectives.
In that regard, the movie works quite well. You seldom see a grown-up (an intermediary, a rebel youth with his gang, being played by a young Kiefer Sutherland, has too little screen time to develop fully and doesn’t really pose much of a threat than the typical bully you’ve seen in countless other flicks), so the main focus lies on the individual kid coping with their life and situations. The only problem is that the running time of 88 minutes is on the one hand not sufficient to learn enough about their backgrounds and development (some flashbacks are done with nice cinematography, but don’t actually make the character any special), and on the other hand there’s not much of a story progression to make for any tension.
Sure there are some scenes which are dramatic (like running away in front of a train on a bridge), but overall it lacks suspense. If the idea is to show a typical group of kids in the 50ies with general problems everyone had during that time, it’s fine, but Steven Spielberg did a much better job with his American Graffity. Of course there you have more highschool grads, but it shows a bit more ideas and memorable scenes than this attempt.
Special delivery of moments past and gone
Speaking about memorable scenes, only one got stuck in my head afterwards: a campfire tale which was funny, disgusting and weird, something I could directly connect to Stephen King’s storytelling abilities. Unfortunately this remained the only interesting part of that whole movie, except maybe for the catchy songs you connect with the time frame (“Lollypop” et al).
Not only is the pacing too slow, the story nothing special, but the actors’ performances are sub-par, even annoying and ridiculous at some points: the dramatic, crying scenes spring to mind. Maybe there was something lost in the translation from the short to the big screen, but as it stands, it’s simply an empty shell which bores more than it entertains. And if it wants to move the audience, it fails due to its superficial portrayal of characters.
It’s weird finding out it is rated so high on Amazon, imdb and anywhere. If you look at most of the reviews, most people keep it in such high regard because it’s a movie from their youth they loved. I don’t know how some 6+ year old would watch it as it’s essential about true friendship and finding oneself in society, sometimes in dysfunctional families. Still from my perspective I can say there are better movies around which came out after it, are done now and will come later. So nostalgia is not really a good excuse for a not-so-special movie.