Mean Creek

A Film Review By The Mike

Rating:R for Language, Violence, and Little Kids Kissing
Starring: Rory Culkin, Trevor Morgan, Josh Peck
Directed By: Jacob Aaron Estes

Final Grade:

Jacob Aaron Estes’ Mean Creek is one of the best demonstrations of child acting I’ve ever seen. I walked into the theater expecting to be annoyed by the fact the main character was a Culkin and to urge about singing “Scotty Doesn’t Know” everytime that kid from Eurotrip showed up, but the urges were gone soon after the film started. What I got was part Deliverance, part Stand by Me, and part Mystic River – added together to make for one of the most engrossing dramas of the year.

The film opens with a home video shot of an altercation between two young teens. George, who’s trying to make a video of himself, probably to gloat at later, becomes offended when Sam picks up his video camera to look at it. George responds by doing what he thinks best: beating Sam to a pulp.

Sam and, more intently, his brother are naturally put off by George’s assault, and begin brainstorming ways to “get him back”. Of course, hurting George would only bring them down to his level. Sam decides on a deeper and more embarrassing plan, and soon he and his friends are whisking George and themselves away on a boat ride under the nicest of pretenses.

What follows is not what Sam or his friends expected. The characters all become involved with each other, even George, and soon things spiral out of control. I wouldn’t imagine going any further into detail on this plot, which is one that unfolds as we learn more and more about who these kids are and what has brought them here, culminating in a result that’s unforgettable.

Mean Creek hits the dynamics of teen logic and rationale at the core. We watch these characters become deeper and deeper with every moment, and by film’s end are entranced in who they are, even if we’ve only seen them in one situation. For in life, we only see the parts of people we are allowed to see, and that often can lead to conclusions we never really know are true.

Mean Creek embraces that fact and subverts it through the media of film. Just as George’s character films himself, Estes’ camera looks in on the lives of these young people in a way that only a movie can. We see their thoughts stated, their emotions expressed, and their lives changed forever…all by one simple turn of events. And in the end we realize that a movie, just like events in every day life, isn’t always the full story.

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