Though I am loath to admit boys beating girls at just about anything, when the topic is coming-of-age films, the seminal Stand By Me clearly stands above its more upbeat female counterpart Now & Then. Stand By Me is darker in its themes of mortality and class and negotiating masculinity thanNow & Then’s treatments of death, romantic awakening, and adolescent drifting. That I watched Stand By Meafter River Phoenix was long dead and Corey Feldman was troubled only exacerbated the particularly melancholy tone of the film. But of all the striking elements of Stand By Methat beat Now & Then, the most heartbreaking is that the whole plot ofNow & Then centers on the fact that the girls come together for each other as grown women while the boys from Stand By Me are left estranged as adults.
In this case, fiction mirrors reality: Adult men have the fewest friends of any demographic. And as more and more people delay marriage or forgo it entirely, men are often left without strong social networks to rely on for support.