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|Index||148 reviews in total|
Aaron Estes debut is a beautiful and haunting tale, that despite its
simplicity and some flaws, manages to both be a gripping piece of
entertainment/storytelling and also a fairly complex analysis of hate,
guilt, loneliness and all the many other human emotions that are
especially hard to cope with when you're a teen.
Estes has wisely chosen to keep the plot fairly simple, this gives him room to delve into the mindset and feelings of these very different yet also very alike kids, and he really grabs that opportunity, constantly conveying new back story and exposition, but always in an unobtrusive way and without ever loosing sight of the central conflict that drives the plot along.
Along with DP Sharone Meir the director also creates an intriguing world, the strikingly photogenic setting is milked for all it's worth, and despite some minor indulgences, especially noticeable in one central scene set at a riverbank, the choice to mix hard hand-held images with poetic Mallick like images generally comes of as an inspired and strong choice that puts you right in there with the characters and their predicaments.
The characters are all fleshed out (though some do of course get more time then others) and the actors all seem to relish the chance to play something much closer to real human beings then the cyphers that normally occupy youth-movies. These people are complex and flawed, no one is really good, nor is anyone really bad, which must be said to be something of a brave move, since it's easy to alienate every audience member out there, keep people floating in a moral vacuum where they don't know what to think and so they turn on the film because they feel insulted and abandoned... but I don't think that happens here, I think Estes brilliant writing and the sympathetic recognizably human performances makes it complex and emotionally draining in a way that is viscerally entertaining and yet never pandering. Some might react very differently though (there is one character whom it is very easy to hate if you fell so inclined, the film most certainly doesn't try to paint him as some sort of martyr), and I guess that may be a flaw from a commercial standpoint, but it certainly doesn't make the film any worse.
Rory Culkin and Josh Peck are probably the standouts in the cast, but it really is an ensemble film, and everybody more then delivers. Even if there was no other reason to see it, it would still be worth it for the magnificent performances (luckily there's plenty of other reasons, including a great score).
Structurally the film is flawed, but through no real fault of its own, it's just so that the scene everything revolves around is so powerful that only by throwing explosions or car chases in there could it ever be topped, and since Estes doesn't feel like throwing superficial drama in to make the ending more satisfying, that is not the kind of film he's making here, there's no way around the fact that the last part of the film is a little bit less gripping then the rest.
A good movie, well worth seeing, and it doesn't really matter if you're young or old, it will still resonate I believe.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I liked this movie overall., I was kind of disappointed with the ending as it really was not clear what happens to the kids who confessed. I like the dude that was in the movie Eurotrip., although I have to say I was a little disappointed we didn't get to see him or Ryan Kelley (Smallville) shirtless. In the commentary., the actor in the scene where he had to pull down his pants., said they used a "butt double". I think he looked great regardless. They also didn't spend much time on the kids' families., like the one dude who had two fathers. I still don't think he was gay but it would have been good to hear more about him having two dads.
Mean Creek (2004)
*** 1/2 (out of 4)
Five teens take a local bully out into the woods to teach him a lesson but things take a tragic turn. The great thing about message boards is you can read other people's opinions and check out a film you normally would have passed over. After all the praise this film got I checked it out and really enjoyed the thing. The only problem is some obvious things lifted from Stand By Me and Deliverance but on the whole this is a pretty incredible little gem. The story doesn't have any false steps and I was pleased with the ending. The film manages to be very funny and that mixes well with the more sad and depressing aspects.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I loved this film, not simply because of the amazing contribution Scott Mechlowicz gave it but because it is clearly a low budget film but more entertaining than most films I have watched recently. Every member of the cast fit their role perfectly and this story fits realistic expectations of how somebody would react to the 'accidental' death of a simple boy. It leaves you questioning how you would react in such a situation ,torn between the choice of running or confessing. It has the cult thrills of Donnie Darko and the 'home video type footage' of the Blair witch project. I would certainly recommend it, the plot, as simple as it is has a sinister dark twist and you somehow feel as muddled as the characters. * Note Scott's gorgeous lips lol
I rented this the day I heard about it, not knowing what to expect. I
watched it, the credits rolled, and I immediately watched it again.
This movie is damn brilliant. It was wonderfully entertaining, and it
was very powerful. Everything in this movie could happen in real life,
and that makes it all the more powerful, mainly because I'm in the same
age group as the multi- dimensional characters.
Sam (Rory Culkin, in a better performance than Macauly ever played), is the little guy of the group, and is highly sensitive, and vulnerable. His older brother, Rocky (Trevor Morgan), is his devoted older brother, who will always stick up for Sam, whatever the cost. Marty (Scott Mechlowitz in a BRILLIANT performance), is like the corrupt leader of the group. Determined to start what they set out to do, he is armed with a bad temper, and his home life has been shattered since an extremely traumatic event. Millie (Carly Schroeder) is Sam's steady girlfriend, who wants nothing to do with what occurs in the story. Clyde (Ryan Kelley) is a sensitive, and kind guy, who is unfairly stereotyped by everyone because he is being raised by a homosexual couple. And then there's George (Josh Peck), the big, seemingly dumb bully, who is actually troubled by low self-esteem, and a case of Dyslexia that has had him held back in school for two years. He can be a nice, if somewhat insensitive guy if he's treated like a person, rather than a violent mongoloid.
The wrenching story begins with Sam getting beat up by George, simply for touching his video camera. Rocky, Sam's brother, wants to plot revenge, but Sam won't do it if it involves hurting George physically. Rocky then recruits Marty and Clyde to help him carry out a prank, that while harmless, is humiliating enough to knock some serious sense into the sadly misunderstood bully. Sam, invites Millie, his crush, on the boat trip where the revenge will take place, and the five invite George. Realizing that all George wants is a friend, and is nice when treated with respect, Sam, Rocky, Millie, and Clyde decide to call the plan off. But Marty is determined to finish what they set out to do. Marty's aggression, and anger toward the situation, ultimately results in a horrible tragedy, and the group are placed in a no-win situation that will scar them for life. Harsh confrontations ensue, as the group tries to decide how to deal with what happened.
This film is a teen movie that pulls no punches in depicting the real life things teens go through, and is a good cautionary tale about what happens when things get out of hand among them. The tragedy that results from peer pressure is the perfect example of how peer pressure is an extremely serious problem. Sadness, and unexpected consequences such as what happens here can happen anytime, anywhere. Having been confronted with decisions similar to the ones these kids are faced with (never quite as serious, but still bad), I could really relate to what was happening.
I highly respect the writer/director (Jacob Aaron Estes) for handling a story this serious with maturity and brutal honesty. If the story were put into the hands of anyone else, they would have loaded the film with S.E. Hinton-type action, and Hollywood clichés, that would have made everything unbelievable, and it probably would have gone overboard in violence and gore, which the story could have easily contained, though be ruined by.
The actors all give outstanding performances. My favorite performance was by Scott Mechlowitz as Marty. I liked him as Scotty in EuroTrip, and this film has officially sealed my respect for him as an actor. He IS the stuff of lead characters. Josh Peck also blew me away. It was a perfect switch from The Amanda Show. He nailed the part as the sympathetic bully, and I know people EXACTLY like him. He is every fat kid/bully you've ever known. I still think it's amazing hearing The Amanda Show kid swearing excessively. And Carly Schroeder, being the youngest of the main cast, gave an Oscar-worthy performance. She is the youngest, but her performance is the most mentally mature of all of the actors in this. I constantly hear people complaining about the R rating, and whether or not it deserved it. My retort: It makes me think that the MPAA should change some of it's policies. The R rating comes mainly from the language, which is strong, but the movie's ear for dialog is perfect. Kids my age really talk this way. There is also underage drug/alcohol use, as well as peer pressure supporting it, which every kid experiences once in a while. By giving it the R rating, the MPAA wasn't really preventing kids from seeing anything new. They just prevent them from seeing different characters in many of the same situations. I highly recommend this powerful, and heartbreaking film, and award it 9/10.
It is rated R for Language Including Sexual References, and Some Drug/Alcohol Use Involving Teens. Sex: 5/10 Violence: 5/10 Swearing: 8/10 Drugs: 6/10
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This film follows the actions of a group of teenagers who take it on
themselves to deal with the behaviour of a school yard bully. They plan
to play a prank on him that will make him pay for his bullying
behaviour, but everything starts to go wrong right from the start.
The actor that plays the role of the bully (Josh Peck) does an excellent job in the role. Initially he is your typical unlike able bully, but as we get to know him he begins to grow on you and you begin to feel sorry for him, however it does not take long to return to not liking him as the actor does an excellent job of portraying a believable bully. The character has a number of facets that it would have been interesting to explore further, but that would have deleted from the intent of the movie. If we ever saw a portrayal of this character at 30-40 years old, I am sure we would be seeing the typical wife beater type.
The second actor of particular note in this film is Carly Schroeder, who plays the girl friend of the boy receiving the bullying that lead to the prank. Carly's character is along for the ride, and does not initially know what the plan is. In the additional features section of the DVD, Carly refers to her character as the conscience of the film, which is a good way of putting it. She initially encourages almost everyone to back off from the prank, however, things are not that easy and things eventually turn bad. Carly plays a very believable role, and displays a great degree of promise as a young actor (keep an eye out for this one in future productions).
There have been references to Deliverance when discussing this film, and in the context that they are on a river and a tragedy occurs, they are right, but that is about where it ends, there is far more substance to this film as it addresses the issues of bullying, pranks, and adolescent behaviours.
Finally if that is not enough to make the film worth the watching, there is a also the cinematography. The prank takes place on a river teaming with wildlife, and beautiful scenery. The use of these elements is done through normal camera action as well as through the use of film taken through the camera of Josh Peck's character. If only we all had a river like this near our homes.
Well worth watching, and well worth keeping track of the careers of Josh Peck and Carly Schroeder.
I watched this film by accident and I must say it is one of the many independent films that show why Independent films are better than blockbusters these days. The film is a little-like Stand By Me yet twisted around a little; mainly it's about these bullied kids who plan on marooning this bully yet something goes entirely wrong...you must watch this film to find out what I am speaking of. The film also shows the lesson to not judge a book by its cover and the ending of this film is simply beautiful...I wept and cried while I watched this film. If you are able to find this film, I recommend you watch it, watch it and have the message live in your mind...forever
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
A less romanticised version of Stephen King's classic coming-of-age movie "Stand By Me" with a touch of "Lord of the Flies" thrown in for good measure too. A fat schoolboy bully gets his comeuppance (or does he)? Nothing is straightforward in this boat trip . Peel away the layers and all of the day-trippers have damage under their thin veneers of superficiality. A prank gone wrong or an act of retribution? Either way, things get out of hand... The villain of the piece, loud and obnoxious, George proves to have some positive qualities beneath the brash defence mechanisms. He is after all, somebody's son and the constant film-within-a-film use of George's hand-held video successfully captures hidden personality defects of the crew members. Beautifully shot with Disneyesque scenes of Deer with adorable fawns, scenic forest glades and magnificent Heron in flight, this film serves to remind us of our own vulnerability . Well recommended. The violence (when it comes) is not too graphic. The end is long-awaited with direct hints and false starts of the "Will they" "Won't they"? nature. This film ought to be dedicated to fat bullies the world over. The one girl participant adds a welcome touch of maturity to the testosterone fest of adolescents determined to p*ss in the wind !
Never Thought it was going to be the most Impressive and delightful
drama i ever seen.Firstly,i was reading the premise and it seemed like
the "typical and classic" story in cinema.I never wanted to see it.
But,when i bought it at DVD store a week ago,it turned to be The Greatest and The most touching-drama crime i ever seen.I felt there was an energy to made me cry,sobbed and so guilty.There was a very exciting moral-message in this story.When it went to the ending,all i did just sat in my couch,silent and felt numb.I was shocking!
The Cast were so Exceptional and Natural.They were acting very impressive and unbelievable.The Script was Brilliant.The Director and the Cinematography were so Terrific and Top-Notch.
Can't Wait for sort of this smart drama film next time.Bravo!! Grade 10 of 10 stars!
This is an amazing film that confronts a issue that teenagers often forget about: consequences. Not only has the writer/director Jacob Estes managed to create a exceptional script, he has directed an awesome bunch of young and up-and-coming actors. This film has it all, talented cast and crew, a gripping story line and depth (which is lacking in most films of today). Independent films are the future in film making because there are to many crappy story lines in Hollywood these days. Mean Creek has an innocence about it and the entire cast and crew of Mean Creek must no that they have hit gold with this film... its Incredible!!!!! :)
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