When a family of raccoons discover worms living underneath the sod in Jeff and Nealy's backyard, this pest problem begins a darkly comic and wild chain reaction of domestic tension, infidelity and murder.
Jacob Aaron Estes
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*
One of the greatest movies ever made is 'A Place in the Sun'. Based on a true murder case, this story features a protagonist who takes his pregnant ex-girlfriend on a boating trip with the intention of drowning her so he won't have to marry her. At the last moment, he has a pang of conscience (or did he just lose his nerve?) and he confesses his intentions to her ... but then the boat capsizes by accident, and she drowns anyway. The film refuses to let the protagonist off the hook, asserting that -- if he felt relieved by her death -- then he is morally guilty of murdering her.
SPOILERS COMING. 'Mean Creek' raises similar moral questions, in a plot line that evokes not only 'A Place in the Sun', but also 'River's Edge', 'Stand by Me' and 'Deliverance', the latter film even quoted in the dialogue. Four adolescent boys lure teenage George on a boating trip, intending to play a cruel prank on him. A girl comes along too, unaware of their intentions. When she learns what's planned, she persuades the conspirators to call off their plot. But then tragedy intervenes, and George drowns. How culpable are the boys? They literally dig themselves into a deeper hole by burying George's corpse, hoping to conceal the tragedy.
'Mean Creek' features some of the most realistic adolescent dialogue I've ever heard. The boys bait each other with insults that are misogynist and homophobic. (One boy, Clyde, has two gay fathers.) Although the dialogue pulls no punches, the camera set-ups pull several. At one point, a boy urinates into the river: we see the stream of urine but the boy is out of frame. The most aggressive of the boys, Marty, makes several boasts about his genital endowment. Eventually, he is goaded into dropping his shorts and showing his stuff: the camera shoots this scene from behind, so we never find out what the fuss is about.
Director/screenwriter Jacob Aaron Estes shows a great deal of talent, but makes a few strange decisions. At several points, the camera shows us printed words on a sign or a bumper sticker ... but then the camera pulls away, or the object recedes from the camera, before most of the audience can read what's written. The script is nearly as good as the dialogue, with splendid exposition and only a few pacing problems.
MORE SPOILERS. Very early in the film, we learn that Marty owns a handgun. Chekhov's rules of drama stipulate that if a gun shows up in the story, it must eventually be fired. The payoff for this weapon shows up very late in the film, in an unexpected way (and the gun is never fired). In this case, it would have been better if the gun had never been mentioned nor shown until Marty decided to use it. Throughout this film there is a running directorial conceit, with sequences shown from the P.O.V. of George's video camera, but there turns out to be a valid payoff for this.
Every performance in this movie is splendid. I was especially impressed with Rory Culkin (Macaulay's more talented brother), Carly Schroeder as the well-intentioned girl, and Josh Peck as fat unpopular George, who clearly wants to be popular yet can't help being unpleasant. I'll rate 'Mean Creek' 9 out of 10, and I look forward to more films from Jacob Aaron Estes.
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