Physically they are there, but emotionally they are not. Then there is Teddy Duchamp, the son of an emotionally disturbed man who has abused him all his life. Teddy lives in constant denial of his childhood pain and creates a fantasy world in which his father is a good, loving hero. Vern Tessio rounds out the quartet. Vern is a fairly fat, clumsy boy who is constantly being pushed around by his older brother. On the journey to find the body of this dead boy, our heroes discover themselves first and foremost.Each boy, in his own way, has to face his fears, but not alone; they all have each other to lean on. This movie is about true friendship in the purest sense…the ultimate acceptance of who you are with no strings attached. These boys love and accept each other with all their frailities and insecurities, and they do not expect anything from each other; they just love each other. This is what true friendship is all about.
Along the way to their discovery, the boys have to face outside dangers, like the junk man and his dreaded dog, “Chopper”. They are also being closely followed by Ace Merrill and his gang of hoodlums, including Chris’ older brother, Eyeball. These older boys have decided that they want to find the body first, so off they go in pursuit. But it’s the inside dangers that the movie focus on. Chris’ insecurities of being able to break the pattern of his family’s reputation is brough out in a poignant scene with Gordie.
Gordie, in turn, shares with Chris the burden he bears of being a poor substitute for his brother who had died. The climax of the movie occurs toward the end, when our quartet of young heroes reach their goal and find the dead body of the missing boy. Just at the moment of their triumph, they are stopped in their tracks by Ace’s gang. Being afraid of them their whole lives, our heros could easily back down. During their journey, however, they discovered inner resources of strength and courage. And, in the end, they stand by each other and do not back down. They had faced their fears and had become stronger for it.
Ultimately, the boys eventually go their separate ways, and the closeness of that summer journey is never repeated. But the lessons they learned and the love they shared with each other endures. These boys, in a short summer, learned the ultimate human lesson: that fears are meant to be shared, that love is meant to be shared, and that we are stronger and braver when we stand together.