Watching Wil Wheaton (1986/2005)

Years ago my girlfriend Vickie showed me the excellent Rob Reiner movies Stand by Me and The Princess Bride. Stand by Me starring Wil Wheaton is still one my half-dozen favorite films. The Princess Bride is still a favorite source of humorous quotations. (I also like Rob Reiner's When Harry Met Sally and A Few Good Men.)

As a formerly geeky, lonely boy whose heroes were authors (C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien), I identified with Stand by Me's Gordie Lachance and wished I had had a friend like Chris Chambers. The sentiment of the song "Stand by Me" struck a chord in me.

Over the years I would see more television series and movies with Gordie Lachance and Chris Chambers, or rather Wil Wheaton (Star Trek: The Next Generation, December) and River Phoenix (The Mosquito Coast, Little Nikita, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, My Own Private Idaho, Dogfight, Sneakers), respectively. The opposition between Allie Fox played by Harrison Ford (an unusual role for him) and Charlie Fox played by River Phoenix in The Mosquito Coast was amazing. The friendship between Scott Favor played by Keanu Reeves and Mike Waters played by River Phoenix in My Own Private Idaho is poignant. (It was one of the few roles in which Keanu Reeve's wooden style worked.) Little Nikita was a movie with an excellent idea and inane execution, but River Phoenix's acting was not to blame. His early death from drugs was a shock.

I never understood why people thought Wil Wheaton's Wesley Crusher character in Star Trek: The Next Generation was so annoying. A boy genius saving the crew was close to my own daydreams. What irrational aversion leads to the formation of a Usenet newsgroup alt.wesley.crusher.die.die.die? Perhaps people were jealous of a character that was cute and smart, and both made out with Ashley Judd and saved the universe.

Wil Wheaton also did well in December. December is a decent film, filled with dialogue. (I like listening to conversation; my enthusiasm for the Richard Linklater films Before Sunrise, Waking Life, and Before Sunset--which we saw at SIFF last year--is evidence of that.)

A few years ago I discovered that Wil Wheaton not only played a geek on television, he is a geek in real life. He even maintains his own website, WIL WHEATON dot NET. I mentioned this to my friend Andrew, who became a regular reader, referencing WWdN in our email correspondence. Now, thanks to Bloglines, I am a regular reader as well.

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