Release Date: January 15, 2004 (Sundance Film Festival)
Director: Jacob Aaron Estes
Stars: Rory Culkin, Ryan Kelley, Scott Mechlowicz
Runtime: 90 min
Tagline: Beneath the surface, everyone has a secret.
After a young boy, Sam (Rory Culkin), is bullied by a troubled fat boy, George (Josh Peck); Sam’s brother, Rocky, and Marty concoct a plan. They plan to lure George out into the woods for Sam’s “birthday” for a boating trip, and play a cruel prank on the boy as a way to receive vengeance for Sam. While on the boating trip, Sam, Rocky, Clyde and Sam’s girlfriend, Millie, see that George really isn’t all that bad of a guy, and they want the plan to be called off. Though, Marty is the type of guy who likes to commit to doing something, henceforth he doesn’t want the plan to be called off. Will the scheme work out as planned; or will things go completely awry?
A lot of it is an often poignant ride about adolescence, and is a fairly impressive film that is a bit slow at the beginning and drags at some areas near the end, but it’s quite the memorable story.
The emotional content of it all is quite great, and often powerful – and the young actors do a very good job with each of their roles. It’s a pretty impressive little crime drama that was humbly made for the sum of $500,000, and they use that money well.
The beginning is just really trying to get into the story and introduce each of the characters, so in ways it is slow but the opening sequence opens up to the film well. I only like a few characters here though, I couldn’t relate to a few of them. The ending drags on in some areas, but the very end saved it for me. The story of the film made it the most memorable for me. The main appeal of this was Josh Peck, he’s such a good actor.
I found myself relating to both Sam and George by the end of it all, though. I feel I should explain how I related to George as he’s the bully. I related to Sam because he was bullied and is an often timid character.
*SORT OF SPOILERS, I EXPLAIN THE CHARACTER OF GEORGE A LITTLE*
I found myself relating with George by the end of it all because he was a troubled character. I’m not a bully or anything, I just relate to the guy because all he wants to do is just try to fit in, which is how I relate to him the most. Since he’s just seen as this bad guy, he doesn’t get out as much as he’d like to and he’s just hardly invited anywhere. He tries to fit in and he tries to be nice, but he can be fake at times because he doesn’t really be himself throughout. And then at the end monologue when he was talking about how he was going to make a documentary of his life so people would actually understand him, moved me.
*END OF SPOILERS*
The film is really well-cast, but some may be turned off by the excessive swearing. That may be the only thing that tainted my view of the general thing, but I still did really enjoy it. A lot of the swearing was necessary, as a means to make some sequences more emotional and intense.
This film made me think this: if the well-cast characters and the swearing of Stand by Me were tossed in a blender with the disturbing content and intensity of Deliverance, you’d be left with this low-key crime drama, Mean Creek, which makes for a fairly satisfying flick.
Mean Creek is a well-casted and memorable film that was poorly paced in some areas but nonetheless emotionally strong and thought-provoking and fairly impressive despite some poor camerawork that I can overlook, it’s an experience that I would like to see again because it offers a nice experience. If you like B-movie crime dramas, check it out.