Directed by Jacob Aaron Estes.
Written by Jacob Aaron Estes.
Starring Rory Culkin, Scott Mechlowicz, Trevor Morgan and Josh
Release Year: 2004
Review Date: 9/1/04
I won't lie--the biggest, maybe the only,
reason I went to see "Mean Creek" was because it was the last movie
at the local indie theater I hadn't seen yet. As such, my
expectations were not very high, but I left the screening wondering
if I had missed the boat.
"Mean Creek" starts out taking place in a
modern-day Oregon school where Sam (Rory Culkin) gets roughed up by
the school bully, George (Josh Peck), for taking a peek at George's
video camera. George seems to have roughed up every kid that
gets in his way, so Sam's older brother Rocky (Trevor Morgan) and
Rocky's friend Marty (Scott Mechlowicz) devise a plan to play a
little prank on George by taking him out to the local river
and...well, you'll see. Regardless, you know from the first
frame that things go wrong for our buddy George...what are the
Do you give a shit? Or, more
importantly, have you NOT seen this movie 84 times in the last five
If the answer is yes, you might really enjoy
"Mean Creek"; for me, I can't think of a film that felt as ordinary
as this drivel. Fine, George is the town bully, and he doesn't
help his cause all that much by being an annoying bastard to the
five main characters that attempt to play the prank on him.
His little video camera, his bad jokes, and his unfortunate timing
with insulting the main characters leads to his very timely
demise...so, since writer/director Jacob Aaron Estes eliminates the
suspense very early on, it's in the execution that I have to find
some satisfaction, and there wasn't much to be had. Those
shots of the kids on the river are serene, calming, and beautifully
shot...in general, "Mean Creek" looks about as good as a low-budget
indie can look, I guess. But the pretty pictures don't have a
whole lot going on within them, with dozens of literally speechless
exchanges between characters and many other scenes with nothing of
note going on.
When the prank is played halfway through the
film, we are left wondering how the five kids--which include Sam,
Rocky, Marty, Sam's "girlfriend" Millie (Carly Schroeder) and Clyde
(Ryan Kelley)--will deal with the consequences. I can't say
that what they decide to do doesn't make sense...in fact, it just
feels too movie for me. By now, I feel like if I mistakenly
kill somebody, I will revert to what I see in the movies first.
Will I flee to Mexico? Will I try to rub off the fingerprints
from the gun? Will I dump the body in a bathtub full of acid?
These things always seem to work in the movies, so in "Mean Creek",
when the characters come up with a plan, it just felt like Movies
101 all over again and I was just flat-out bored.
In fact, the whole second half of "Mean
Creek" just sucked. And, like
the ending fuckin' sucked here; it's just too rushed, which happens
if your film is only 85 minutes. The acting here isn't too
bad; you can tell that, if he stays on track, Rory Culkin could turn
out to be a decent presence onscreen, after his role in
"Signs" a couple of
years ago and now this. The other performers aren't bad, but
really they aren't given too much to work with.
Did I miss something here? This won
some minor award at Sundance earlier this year (who doesn't
win something at Sundance these days?), and from a quick browse on
Rotten Tomatoes it seems
like "Mean Creek" got favorable reviews...but, I just thought this
was boring. I'm okay with a somber mood, but give Daddy
something to work with!
Comments? Drop me a line at
Bellview Rating System:
"Opening Weekend": This is
the highest rating a movie can receive. Reserved for movies that
exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development,
setting...or Salma Hayek. Not necessarily in that order.
"$X.XX Show": This price
changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently,
it is the $9.50 Show. While not technically perfect, this is a
movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.
"Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca",
but you'll have a great time watching. The $9.50 Show won't win any
Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see
"Matinee": An average movie
that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.
Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about
yourself. A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave
the theater saying "That wasn't too bad...man, did you see that
Lakers game last night?"
"Rental": This rating
indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your
friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one." Mostly forgettable, you
couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to
watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the
video store was out of copies of "Ronin." If you can, see this
movie for free. This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a
"Hard Vice": This rating is
the bottom of the barrel. A movie that only six other human beings
have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen. A Shannon
Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every
one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a
movie. Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or
"Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this
movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!
(Warning: strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard