Ryan Owen 05/05/2005
Jacob Aaron Estes writes and directs this coming-of-age film that has stand out performances and doesn't pull its punches. Like a fusion between Stand By Me and Bully, Mean Creek is concerned with six youngsters who take a moral stance against a bully.
Sam (Rory Culkin) is unreasonably beaten up by the school bully George (Josh Peck), and his brother Rocky plots their revenge. Understated Sam, protective Rocky, withdrawn Clyde , quiet Millie, and irritable Marty, all invite misunderstood George on a boating trip with the intention of stripping him and making him walk home naked. As the day goes by we start to have some sympathy for George, and the plan is temporarily aborted. Tensions are raised as George turns nasty and tragedy waits for all.
Jacob Aaron Estes' anonymous and subtle direction creates a realistic and believable world giving a documentary feel to the film. The ensemble cast provide the characters an unexpected depth with their honesty and naturalistic performances. Mean Creek is a debut that is a charming and endearing picture, with a poignant conclusion which is intelligent but not without conscience.