Is “Stand By Me” one of your favorite movies? Well, here’s “Rockaway,” a coming-of-age ditty that wants little more than to be Rob Reiner’s 1986 coming-of-age ditty, offering the same emotional thrills: making men feel like boys again through raw memories of free-flowing cuss words, budding sexuality, and a few brushes with mortality, as little flames of imagination flicker before adulthood snuffs them out. But as it hardly feigns originality on these timeless ideas, “Rockaway” takes an approach that’s arguably grosser than a blueberry pie contest gone to the extreme: it relies on blunt sentimentality and awkwardly, expressly warps its own story inspired by true events to be adoption-ready for “Stand By Me” fans.
Written and directed by debut filmmaker John Budion, “Rockaway” frames itself like “Stand By Me,” with a wiser man looking back on his years as a young white boy. Frankie J. Alvarez plays a man named John, scanning his childhood drawings in his NY apartment and musing in voiceover. “Rockaway” then flashes back a simpler time, the summer of 1994, when his younger self (Maxwell Apple) and his protective older brother Anthony (Keidrich Sellati) would steal tennis balls with the number three on them (the number of John’s favorite New York Knicks player,