Mean Creek


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Rating: R

Rory Culkin as Sam
Ryan Kelley as Clyde
Scott Mechlowicz as Marty ‘Martini’ Blank
Trevor Morgan as Rocky
Josh Peck as George
Carly Schroeder as Millie
J.W. Crawford as Tom
Michael Fisher-Welsh as Mr. Levinworth
Raissa Fleming as Maggie Tooney
Kaz Garas as Detective Wright
Shelly Lipkin as Mr. Merric
Heath Lourwood as Jasper
Ryan Peterson as Cashier
Hagai Shaham as Handsome Police Officer
Brandon Williams as Kile

Special Features:
Commentary by director Jacob Aaron Estes and cast


Other Info:
Widescreen (1.85:1)
Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound
Running Time: 89 Minutes

The following is from the DVD cover:

“Beneath The Surface, Everyone Has A Secret

With wonderfully authentic performances from a talented cast including Rory Culkin (Signs, You Can Count On Me) and Trevor Morgan, first-time director Jacob Aaron Estes brings you a story of friendship, tolerance and forgiveness that Roger Ebert calls “extraordinary” and Entertainment Weekly says is “…a terrifically harrowing tale!”

Sam (Culkin) can’t seem to forget the day as he was beaten at school by the class bully, George. His teenage brother Rocky (Morgan) won’t let him forget, either. Together with his best friends, Rocky plans a little harmless revenge and a lesson in humility. But, when the plan turns suddenly tragic, the true lesson of consequence is one they must all learn themselves. Kenneth Turan of the L.A. Times says Mean Creek is “…a revelation… with echoes of Deliverance and…River’s Edge.””

Mean Creek is rated R for language, sexual references, teen drug and alcohol use.

The Movie:
There are several problems with Mean Creek. First and foremost, it’s not a pleasant film. It’s dark, depressing, and disturbing. The focus of the movie is bullying, so right off the bat you know it’s not going to be a light comedy. I also left that world behind in high school, so I can’t say it’s a real joy to revisit it as an adult. So unless you want to subject yourself to 89 minutes of unpleasantness, this movie’s not for you.

The second problem with Mean Creek is that it is totally predictable. You can watch five minutes of the story and then look at the DVD cover and pretty much figure out what’s going to happen. The only remaining question is how the kids are going to react when it’s all said and done.

I fully understand what the filmmakers were trying to do with Mean Creek. They were taking a close look at bullying, why we make moral choices, what turns kids into bullies, and how despite acting evil bullies are human beings, too. It’s an interesting psychological drama, but one I wasn’t particularly keen to explore. It didn’t help that Josh Peck was a little too good as George, the bully. He’s rude, annoying, and incredibly foul mouthed. I was actually counting the minutes down until he met his fate because I was so sick of him. It’s a far cry from his wholesome character on the Nickelodeon TV series “Drake & Josh”.

Despite not liking the film, I do recognize that it had a lot going for it. The cast is first rate and all the kids play their roles well. Rory Culkin, Carly Schroeder, and the other nail their character’s emotions and reactions to the events. And despite having a low budget, director Jacob Aaron Estes makes a great looking film. The Oregon scenery is quite beautiful and a nice backdrop to the story.

In the end, though, I wouldn’t recommend Mean Creek to anyone unless they liked dark psychological dramas or independent films. This is not mainstream entertainment.

The Extras:
This film is extremely light on the bonus features. Here’s what you will find:

Commentary by director Jacob Aaron Estes and cast – This is a decent commentary. Estes keeps things rolling and the conversation going by prompting the kids. They all relate anecdotes from the set and discuss what went on behind the scenes. The only cast member missing is Rory Culkin.

Storyboards – This is a gallery of a few key storyboards from the film.

The Bottom Line:
If you like dark psychological dramas and examinations of bullying, then you’ll probably enjoy Mean Creek. Otherwise look elsewhere for entertainment.