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|Index||140 reviews in total|
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
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.
Mean Creek ***1/2/out of 4
"Mean Creek" has the most accurate depiction of teen life and adolescence I've ever seen in a movie. Unlike "Thirteen", which is stereotypical and tries to give answers and resolutions, "Mean Creek" sticks out in the teen-life genre as a beauty. The young actors and actresses do a great job, but Carly Schroeder as Millie is the best. She gets to your gut as the innocent kid who's in the wrong place at the wrong time.
One of the most memorable parts for me in the movie is when the Bully, George, is filming with his camcorder and zooms in on an exotic spiral shape, saying "This is my life". That's such a brilliant line because adolescence is such a horrible and awkward stage in life. High schoolers (being one myself) are filled with an assortment of emotions and feelings and "Mean Creek" portrays that with such power.
Like "Deliverance", the film is focused on a canoe trip that goes completely wrong and "Mean Creek " has some themes that "Deliverance" has. Jacob Aaron Estes is a director who is off to a great start-making films that are completely honest in every way.
You're not going to leave the theater whistling dixie, and a box of Kleenex is not the best accessory, but this tight well made little movie is worth the effort. The actors, mostly all kids, are very believable, everyone of them does a great job, and maybe the credit should go to the director. As the movie bounces along you kind of expect that something is going to go wrong. And, of course, it eventually does, and after the big scene, it's like downer city, for everyone including the audience. But so what, if you want to go see a happy flick there are plenty of those around. This movie depicts kids in a very realistic light. The dialogue, their emotions, their reactions to a crisis, are very spot on. Good movies like this blow away so called "reality" TV. A friend with me said this reminded him of a Gus Van Sant movie, I don't agree with that, Van Sant movies always have some really weird scenes in them that detract from the overall cohesion of the movie. Mean Creek doesn't do that, check it out.
'Mean Creek' is 'Deliverance' for the Truth Or Dare crowd. John Boorman's
1972 thriller about a canoe trip gone wrong had a sense of reality and
inevitability that redeemed the horrific violence. The film didn't flinch
and no one escaped with a happy ending. Feature-film newcomer Jacob Aaron
Estes' prank-gone-too-far morality tale isn't as riveting as 'Deliverance',
but his 'Mean Creek' hits many of the same haunting notes. He skillfully
uses guilt and paranoia as weapons. Just ask Nixon...it's not the crime,
it's the cover-up.
The only cast member I've heard of is Rory Culkin, who reinforces the notion that he's the best actor in his family. Sam (Culkin) and 4 others (his potential girlfriend, his big brother, and 2 friends) have conned the local bully into joining them on a boating trip. They're planning to trick him into stripping off his clothes, then they'll make him run home naked. The girl (Carly Schroeder) doesn't discover this plan until she's already in the boat, but she convinces the boys to call it off. After all, George the bully (Josh Peck) is just a fat fool who might even be a nice guy.
Ah, but a good film never lets its characters off the hook that easily. Our Greek tragedies dictate that there would be no film (certainly not one called 'Mean Creek') if they all just lived happily yadda yadda. George doesn't deserve this treatment, but he's not perfectly innocent either. Actually, he's askin' for it. What eventually happens to him might not be deliberate, but how will the kids explain their actions? It doesn't help that George has been recording most of the trip on a video camera.
The skilled child actors are allowed to play smart characters. They give naturalistic performances and say real things. Estes' perceptive script doesn't let ANYONE off the hook because there's a lot of blame to go around. George isn't the only bully, after all. 'Mean Creek' is a fairly simple story told with a series of complex layers. Humiliation, vengeance, a waking nightmare, no heroes or villains...the film is filled with themes. In the final thirty minutes, the characters are forced to deal with the consequences of their actions. For such a child-filled movie, this is a grown-up story.
To start off this review I must say, that when I first discovered the
corny box cover I thought it had to be a comedy. When I read the back I
figured it must be one of those dark comedy films. And with a cast like
that, how could it not be??? I have never been so wrong in my whole
I have seen many movies before, and none have held such great performances as this, and hardly any have spoken to the audience in such a powerful way. This film is quite disturbing, mainly because of its brutal honesty. The characters are deeply flawed yet still ring true to real life. Out of the main characters, you can at least relate to one, if not all.
The actors....wow. I can't believe that Josh Peck gave such an amazing performance as George, the bully or basically any of the cast members. I would have NEVER known that he was the boy from The Amanda Show. In fact the only actor I expected to pull this off was Rory Culkin. The performances were so natural, so beautiful I almost forgot I was watching a film.
Sure, many people hated this movie. That's their choice and no matter which film you see, there's bound to be haters. Yet, I think that the people who hated it just haven't looked deep enough into it, into the dark underlying.
Mean Creek is a very unique and individual film. You can't even really put it into a category. The atmosphere, emotion and message this film brings across to the audience is so real and gives you the final slap across the face at the end of the film. It really hits you. I think that some people who hated this movie are just scared of it. I think they're scared of just how much reality there is in it and the heartbreaking proof behind it.
The dialogue is also pretty damn real. Jacob Aaron Estes really captures the essence of what its like to be a male adolescent...the dialogue feels like its coming straight from the heart.
This movie portrays the state of mind of a teenager beautifully. Definitely 10/10.
This movie completely took me by surprise. I saw it mostly because I love independent films and have been a fan of Carly Schroeder and Rory Culkin for awhile now, and make it a point to see whatever either of them are in. But wow, was I shocked. I have never seen that kind of depth (acting wise) from kids like this. Every actor was brilliant and unique in there performances. The characters were realistic and relate able, the writing and directing (by first timer Jacob Aaron Estes) are immaculate, and the story is completely believable and leaves you thinking about it after you leave the theater. I can't even pick a stand out performance, because unlike most films today, all of the six leads were stand outs. This movie is unlike no other you'll see, and it will affect you in ways that will stay with you. I'd recommend this movie to anyone. 9/10.
In Oregon, when the bully George Tooney (Josh Peck) beats his
schoolmate Sam Merric (Rory Culkin), his older brother Rocky (Trevor
Morhan) schemes a prank with his two also teenager friends Clyde (Ryan
Kelley) and Marty (Scott Mechlowicz) seeking revenge. They invite
George, Sam and his girlfriend Millie (Carly Schroeder) to a boat trip
along the river, with the intention of humiliating George and get even.
However, Millie convinces Sam to call off the plan and the boys accept
in spite of the reluctant Marty. When they decide to play "truth or
dare" in the middle of the river, the truth about the prank is
disclosed to George and he offends the boys mostly the traumatized
Marty, leading the group to an accident with tragic consequences.
"Mean Creek" is a simple, real, powerful and impressive story. The first point that calls the attention is the performances of this young generation of promising and talented actors and actress. I hope they have the same luck of Coppola's boys of "Rumble Fish" and "The Outsiders". The story teaches in a hard way that for each action that we take there are consequences. Further, this is the first honest film that exposes the problematic relationship of an adolescent with gay parents with his friends. "Mean Creek" is certainly one of the best coming-to-age movies that I have ever seen and therefore highly recommended inclusive for teenagers. The Brazilian title is simply awful. My vote is nine.
Title (Brazil): "Pacto Maldito" ("Damned Pact")
Mean Creek is an amazing movie. It is so refreshing to see a good movie when there are so many worthless ones around presently. There are many great things about Mean Creek, and a few not so good things. The writing is excellent, the directing is great. The acting is so well done, it seems more real than half the "reality" TV shows on TV today. The young actors which consist of Trevor Morgan, Ryan Kelley, Scott Melchowitz, Rory Culkin, Carley Shroader, and Josh Peck. I was blown away by their performances. There is another thing that makes Mean Creek so unique. It's cinematography (sp?). Most of the action of the movie takes place within one day, and at a Creek. The filming of the Creek is so magnificent, there are great shots of the Creek itself, the water, the forestry around it, and there are some great pictures of the animals that call the creek home. The subject matter of Mean Creek is extreme and dramatic, which is another reason for the amazement at the young actors in this film! The main subject revolves around the themes of forgiveness and revenge. The first five children plan a simple revenge trick on the bully, yet something horrible happens are all of the children are forced into an extremely difficult situiton in just a matter of minutes. The ending is a bit ambiguous, and open ended. WHich, I think is good in a certain way but I would have wanted more closure about the fate of the children. I am surprised by the lack of representation at the award shows for this picture. I truly believe this film in underrated and under viewed, because it's an indie and it's a directors debut.
With an all-child cast, it bears resemblance to "stand by me." A group of kids plot to pay the school bully back for years of abuse. They take him on a boat trip. If you want more, go see it. It was the best film I've seen this year. Throughout the duration of this classic, one element stuck out for me: Carly Schroeder. She is going to be a star and a half. She blows that annoying cherry blossom, Dakota Fanning, away. Rory Culkin, Macauly's little brother, was just perfect for the part of a naive kid, susceptible to his older brother's overbearing testosterone. Go see this film, because you will talk about it for hours on end. Perfect dinner movie. Take your girlfriend, boyfriend, significant other. Kids under 13, though portrayed in the film, just aren't ready for the material of this film, so don't bring your children.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This movie is reminiscent of the film Bully (2001), in which a group of
kids are bullied by another kid, so they plot his death. Here, they
don't plot the kid's death, but he ends up dead anyway. The other
difference is, the bully in the film Bully seemed to deserve it, while
the kid in this film didn't even seem to deserve the original intent,
which was a prank to humiliate him (i.e. make him strip to his birthday
suit, throw him in the creek and have him walk a considerable distance
home that way).
Anyway, the film opens with the alleged bully (Josh Peck, from "Drake and Josh") adjusting his video camera so that he can film himself shooting hoops. Not long after, Rory Culkin enters the frame and messes with his camera. This prompts Peck to shout out in indignation and to beat up Rory Culkin, telling him that he warned him not to touch his camera. Now, I don't know about anyone else, but it seems if some aggressive fat kid who outweighs you by about 100 pounds, tells you not to touch his property or "he'll kill you", you listen. Unfortunately, this warning didn't take, and Rory Culkin ends up with a bruise on the side of his face.
My point here is that, while it may not be cool to get beat up for touching someone's camera, if the person was actually warned you not to do so and you do so anyway, I don't know if I'm inclined to feel any sympathy. Also, we're expected to believe that Little Kid is a frequent victim of the fat kid's attacks, but all we see is the incident of Culkin messing with Fat Kid's camera so we can only imagine instances where Fat Kid picks on Little Kid because he feels like it. At any rate, if someone beats on you a lot, wouldn't you stay as far away from that person as possible, as opposed to touching their stuff?
Anyway, seems that Rory Culkin has a big brother, not Macaulay or Kieran or any other Culkin in this case, but Trevor Morgan (the sarcastic, arrogant kid from The Sixth Sense) who seems like he and his friend, Tough Kid (Scott Mechlowicz) and Sensitive Kid (Ryan Kelley) can beat up Fat Kid (or at least tell him to back off). But high-falutin' Culkin has other ideas, saying that "if we hurt him, we're no better than he is. First off, seriously, do kids really talk like this? Second, like it's much better to make Fat Kid walk a long way home wet and naked? Anyway, most of the group have second thoughts and decide not to go through with it, except Tough Kid, who gets ticked off by Fat Kid initiates a Truth or Dare game and dares him to strip naked and jump in the water. However, the truth comes out that that was the intent all along, whereupon Fat Kid gets ticked and starts insulting the heck out of everyone, notably Tough Kid, whom he mocks about the suicide of his father, very loudly and obnoxiously. This ends up with Big Brother pushing Fat Kid into the drink. He screams frantically for help, but the other kids just stare at him for a while from the boat. Suddenly he bangs his head on an unseen rock, bleeds and goes unconscious. This breaks Big Brother out of his stupor and he belatedly jumps in to rescue him. But he and his friends are too late and so passes Fat Kid.
So, anyway, what's the idea there? Why would the others just let Fat Kid scream and flail around like that for a good minute before they do anything about it? That secretly they all want him dead, so they subconsciously decided to do nothing? Or are they just dumb? I'm going for the latter option, because this whole premise seems dumb. Not that the prank is realistic but most of these kids don't seem like the kind of people who'd go for that sort of thing. Indeed, most of them back out and say stupid things like "we did it because you were mean but then we liked you." Anyway, in the second half or so, the group decides to bury the body and make pretend it never happened. However, everyone, except Tough Kid, decides they can't carry that around with them for the rest of their lives and so decide to come clean. This part actually makes for compelling viewing. Unfortunately, the setup is rather weak, so the film isn't exactly what it could be.
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