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Mean Creek (2004)

R  |   |  Crime, Drama  |  29 September 2004 (France)
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Ratings: 7.3/10 from 25,370 users   Metascore: 74/100
Reviews: 152 user | 125 critic | 31 from Metacritic.com

When a teen is bullied, his brother and friends lure the bully into the woods to seek vengeance.


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4 wins & 4 nominations. See more awards »



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Complete credited cast:
Raissa Fleming ...
Maggie Tooney
Heath Lourwood ...
Ryan Peterson ...
Michael Fisher-Welsh ...
Mr. Levinworth
Tom (as James W. Crawford)
Shelly Lipkin ...
Mr. Merrick
Kaz Garas ...
Detective Wright
Hagai Shaham ...
Handsome Police Officer


When Sam Merrick is beaten up by local bully George Tooney, Sam's older brother Rocky and his friends Clyde and Marty plan to pretend it's Sam's birthday to "invite" George on a boat trip in which they would dare him to strip naked, jump in the lake, and run home naked. But when Sam, his girlfriend Millie, Rocky, and Clyde see George as not much of a bad guy, they want to call off the plan, but Marty refuses. Will the plan go ahead as planned? Written by Seth Waters *AshTFrankFurter2*

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

bully | friend | boat | river | dare | See All (150) »


Beneath the surface, everyone has a secret. See more »


Crime | Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for language, sexual references, teen drug and alcohol use | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:



Official Sites:



Release Date:

29 September 2004 (France)  »

Also Known As:

A harag sodrása  »

Box Office


$500,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$29,170 (USA) (20 August 2004)


$603,943 (USA) (10 December 2004)

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


In the truth or dare scene, when asked about his fantasy, Rocky says he fantasized about a girl named Susan Johnson (at around 41 mins). One of the producers of the film is called Susan Johnson. See more »


When Sam is talking to Rocky about calling off the prank, the position of his hands on the oar he is holding keeps on changing, and in some close-ups his hands and the oar are not visible, when they should be (from 27:48 to 28:08). See more »


[first lines]
George: Hey! What do you think you're doing? You're a punk, Sam!
See more »

Crazy Credits

Hagai Shaham is credited as being the "handsome" police officer (he is also a producer of the movie) See more »


References Grand Theft Auto: Vice City (2002) See more »


The Way We Get By
Written by Britt Daniel
Performed by Spoon
Courtesy of Merge Records
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

Intelligent, superbly acted and thoroughly absorbing
29 September 2004 | by (Planet Earth) – See all my reviews

I knew next to nothing about this film when I went to see it. I knew it starred Rory Culkin, who was so good in 2000's best film, "You Can Count on Me," and received some critical acclaim. But I knew nothing about the story and what a wonderful surprise "Mean Creek" proved to be.

This is an intelligent, engaging movie buoyed by some of the best acting by young actors this year. Writer-director Jacob Aaron Estes, who won a 1998 Nicholl Fellowship in Screen writing for his script, takes the basic premise of revenge against a school bully and turns it into a moving and gripping film. Incidentally, this is the second terrific movie to come out of that Nicholl class - the other was Karen Moncrieff's "Blue Car," one of last year's best films.

Given the subject matter, "Mean Creek" could easily have been another after-school special masquerading as an indie feature. But Estes eschews the conventions of the genre to give his characters unexpected depth and create an engrossing morality play. None of his characters is a caricature; they're all flawed and unmistakably human. The moral issues they face are real and complex; the crises they create are dealt with expertly.

What's special about "Mean Creek" are its fine young actors. Culkin again is convincing as a skittish young boy being picked on by the school bully, but the two startlingly brilliant performances are by Josh Peck as the bully George, and Carly Schroeder as Millie, the young girl unexpectedly dragged into the plot.

Peck makes George captivating when he could just as easily made him a typical, one-note bully. Peck gives George substance and turns on the charm so well that we understand the others' reluctance to go through with exacting his comeuppance. George becomes likable, someone who seems to resort to bullying to hide inadequacies of his own. Peck draws us into his character; we feel sympathy for someone who is supposed to be unsympathetic.

The flaw in Estes' writing is that after making George someone who elicits compassion, Estes unwisely opts for an easy way out by forcing George to turn to his uglier side. Had George suddenly not turned mean, the moment would have been far more potent than it already is.

Young Schroeder is downright extraordinary. Her Millie is mature way beyond her years. She serves as the group's moral core and Schroeder's scenes in the immediate aftermath of a tragedy are so astonishingly raw, you're likely to forget she's a young teen actress. Hers is one of the best supporting performances the year.

"Mean Creek" is one of the best coming-of-age films. All teenagers and their parents should see this, despite its R rating. It's unfortunate the MPAA gave "Mean Creek" an R rating because despite the use of the F-word, "Mean Creek" is far less offensive than much of the PG-13-rated garbage - the more recent "Charlie's Angels" movies, for instance - and provides more enjoyment and insight into human behavior in five minutes than almost any mainstream movie playing right now.

112 of 134 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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Why the cover up? jared1101
why was George's character so mean? mtc-49-983723
So what happened? XxX-My-Immortal-XxX
I don't get marty. californication-183-963282
I loved the song.... lil_miss_independent92
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