Mean Creek (2004)

Originally posted on MovieRob and Film Grimoire as part of A Timely Blogathon

Mean Creek film review

Firstly, thanks very much to Anna and Rob for coming up with and hosting such a great blogathon idea – which is to review any movie with a duration of 90 minutes or less. This idea appealed to me so much! I’m the worst for sitting through films, mainly because I’m such a fidget. Sometimes I’m sat behind someone in the cinema who DOES NOT MOVE and I don’t get how they do it. I can’t sit for five minutes without wanting to shift my arse (I’m moving around as I type this) and a long film duration can put me off going to the cinema entirely. I mean with all the Kevin Bacon adverts and ‘suitable for this feature’ film trailers, I’d have to pitch a tent and put my phone on my charge just to get through it all.

So there were a number of films I thought about but I kept coming back to Mean Creek, a 2004 indie film that demonstrates perfectly how a short, regular-joe, small budget movie can be just as thought-provoking and moving as something of the three hour variety. I mean let’s be honest, longer films tend to me more serious don’t they. You’re not going to see something like Cabin Fever 3: Patient Zero go on for any length of time (less narrative and Oscar winning monologue you see), but Mean Creek is a film that has a story and an impact – and it’s still only 90 minutes (interestingly that’s nine minutes less than Cabin Fever 3: Patient Zero).

Picture 1

Some films are so good or memorable that I can still recall the first time I saw them. To you this may not be impressive but for someone like me – who can’t always remember if I “had that conversation in real life or was it a dream?” – it’s pretty good going.

Mean Creek is one of those films. It was in the days before Netflix and I’d simply bought it on DVD because it looked interesting. I watched it one afternoon and watched it straight again the next day with my sister, who I forced to sit next to me and Enjoy This As Much As I Did (through gritted teeth).

It’s basically about a group of friends who are fed up with being beat-up and picked on by their neighbourhood bully George (Josh Peck) and decide to take revenge with a rather callous but seemingly harmless prank. But things rarely run smoothly in movie land and here comes ‘The But’ in the shape of local bad boy Marty (Scott Mechlowicz) who decides to tag along. Things begin to spiral out of control and their harmless prank on a bully turns into something far darker, making it a day none of them will ever forget.


And that’s pretty much it. But watching the story unfold and learning about the characters and their respective outlooks is compelling. Rory Culkin (who somehow is only three years younger than me?) plays main character Sam, a regular kid who wants to cop off with best friend Millie and at the other end of the spectrum is his brother’s bad boy pal Marty – who you straight away know is from the wrong side of the tracks. He has a chain on his jeans man! AND ripped the sleeves off his shirt.

But their personalities are important to the plot. The revenge is first dreamt up because George is a bully – but he’s also overweight, friendless and shows deep insecurity. We also learn how Marty’s father has commit suicide and how Marty is belittled and threatened constantly by his trashy older brother –these things are all significant to the story because they make the basis of the kids morals and subsequent actions.

Picture 3

Mean Creek is an indie film and I know LOADS of films are independent but like, what does that even mean? That it wasn’t made in Hollywood or given a complimentary back rub by the Weinstein brothers? Because all I know is some films feel a lot more indie than others – and Mean Creek is one of them. Brace yourself now for some of Emma’s Famous Technical Talk…

The hazy summer colours, the long camera shots and imagery. The ‘smart’ script – basically the way the kids talk like they’re in their 40s, not high school (there’s no narrator sadly but they so could have gotten away with it). The beautiful, sad score courtesy of Tomandandy and the long hot summer that seems to go on forever type vibes – pretty much everything about Mean Creek screams “I’m an indie movie and if you love Anchor Man you might want to avoid me”.

It may sound borderline pretentious but I’m the least la-di-da person when it comes to film and I really liked it. And surely everyone by now knows what I’m like and my love for Face Off and reality TV and lots of other naff things? Well anyway, I recommend this film. And who wouldn’t want to follow the recommendation of someone who likes lots of naff things. But being serious (for once) Mean Creek is very good. It’s thought-provoking, shocking and at times quite sad – though there’s moments of real fun too, like the type of mucking around you only truly experience when you’re young and with The Most Important Friends you’ll ever have – or so it feels at the time. It isn’t an entirely depressing film at all, it’s just an interesting, rather tragic story that throws up emotion, moral questioning and that very complicated business we can all relate to of being human.


About emmakwall

Films, books, soundtracks, good humour
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30 Responses to Mean Creek (2004)

  1. I never heard of that movie. I’ll have to check it out. It sounds like it could be a movie that could have been released in the ’80s.

  2. alexraphael says:

    You and pretentious don’t belong in the same sentence. Or stratosphere. Love your unique take on this.

  3. Awesome! I guess I should track this one down.

  4. movierob says:

    thanks for taking part Ems!

  5. vinnieh says:

    A thoroughly excellent review Emma, how have I not seen this movie?

  6. beetleypete says:

    “It was in the days before Netflix”. That made me laugh out loud! My entire life has been lived in ‘the days before Netflix’, and it still is. When I talk to my step-daughter about things, she says “But that was in the olden days.” And she’s 27! She once asked me if I was in the army at the Battle of The Somme. (True)
    Instead of B.C. and A.D., future dates could be written like this, 1990 (B.N.) or 2012 (A.N.)
    That could catch on…
    OK, back to the film. I haven’t seen it, but your review makes it sound a bit like ‘Stand By Me’ with a bigger cast, and more grown up dialogue. Am I even warm? The main thing is, you make it sound interesting, without raving about it. The mark of a good reviewer! When I like something too much, I always lose control of my effusive praise.
    I can’t stand ‘Anchorman’, so I might actually like this one.
    Going to be hot as hell today, and about time too. Stay cool, honey.
    As ever, Pete. XXX

    • emmakwall says:

      Haha, glad I made you laugh Pete 🙂 I don’t use Netflix anymore even though I have a ‘Netflix button’ on my BluRay remote (much the delight and awe of my brother – easily pleased).

      I hardly watched anything on Netflix though. Example – I wanted to watch Peaky Blinders for ages and series 1 and 2 were both on Netflix….I had a Netflix subscription for months….years even! Yet I never watched it. Now I’ve got the DVDs I’m half way through the second series haha. It’s like…..I need DVDs still!

      Lovefilm was always my favourite anyway, it was more fun in the way you got physical DVDs through the post and you didn’t know which one it’d be, made it more of a surprise 🙂

      Those BN and AN literally made me laugh out loud too so you’ve returned the favour 🙂 we really, really should use them! I so will in a post soon! Crediting you of course 🙂

      I like the sound of your step daughter!!!

      I don’t really like Anchorman either, I don’t hate it but I don’t find it very ‘laugh out loud’ funny I’m afraid.

      Yeah it definitely shares similarities with Stand By Me, your observation is quite correct and they do have slightly more grown up dialogue. In this movie they know in the present time what is happening, as apposed to it being more of a learning curve in Stand By Me – if that makes sense?

      You stay cool!!! Cool cat 🙂 xxx

      • beetleypete says:

        You must get up to see me in Norfolk, one of these days. Bring your man, and we will be guaranteed a good chuckle, and some intense film talk! It’s not too far…
        As ever, Pete. XXX

        • beetleypete says:

          And ‘Peaky Bilnders’ was the nuts! How good was that? Hardy on top form, and I only watched it all on BBC2 with no fallback! XXX

          • emmakwall says:

            I’m just watching series 2 now so NO SPOILERS!!! 🙂 I must admit it’s not quite as good as I thought it would be but it’s still very good (if that makes sense). I find it a bit overly dramatic at times, borderline corny but that’s very minute and generally, it’s a great show. Great acting, music, action. The acting in fact, is marvellous.

            Arthur is my favourite character! Good old BBC2!! xxx

            • beetleypete says:

              I think you have to suspend belief to watch it. The real Peaky Blinders were just street thugs. The series makes them into a sort of English Mafia. No spoilers, but it does get crazier, and more intense too. But the sets! The music! The authentic 1920s feel!
              It’s a televisual feast, at every level. XXX (And two on the cheek xx)

            • emmakwall says:

              Yeah I looked them up and was disappointed they weren’t necessarily their ‘own gang’ but it’s cool Billy Kimber was a real life person! I liked his character (even if he did remind me of Boycey from Only Fools and Horses!)

              I like the storlines, the most outrageous / intense the better! It’s jsut the way some of the scenes are filmed I find them a bit overly dramatic or corny. Like the ‘slow motion’ fights set against music, I really don’t like them lol. I never bought into the Grace character from the first series either, so was disappointing they’ve dragged her into the second series.

              Though I’ve only seen one episode, so don’t tell me ANYTHING! Haha.

              Don’t get me wrong, I sound really negative about it and I do really like it! Way more good stuff than bad stuff, but some of the directions it went into did surprise me. I agree the music is wonderful and the sets and feel 🙂

              XXX – XX !!!!!


            • beetleypete says:

              It goes in some more surprising directions later…I know what you mean about the drama+corn. I think that is intentional though, almost a pastiche/homage to the past. (How pretentious does that sound? Hang on whilst I adjust the angle of my beret…)
              Hardy as an Orthodox Jew hoodlum is just priceless though. He should have his own series based on that character. I would watch it! XXX

            • emmakwall says:

              HAHAHA!!! “Hang on whilst I adjust the angle of my beret” – that made me laugh out loud 🙂 you do make me chuckle and make me smile!

              It was VERY pretentious yes! Which I say with a massive smile on my face 🙂 xxx

              P.S I’ve not met Hardy’s character yet, I’ve only seen episode 1 so no spoilers!!!! xxx

            • beetleypete says:

              I’m on ‘spoiler shtum’, have no fear. Always happy to give you a chuckle, Em. XXX

            • emmakwall says:

              You always cheer me up, always! xxx

        • emmakwall says:

          That’s very, very true! It would be surreal but a very fun, giggly surreal 🙂 actually sounds bloody marvellous! And as you say, not even far away.

          I’m coming up to Norfolk in August for a wedding in fact and I’m in Suffolk (your neighbour!) for a week in September…. 🙂


          • beetleypete says:

            Meeting fellow bloggers is something I have only done once. Her husband came along, and Julie accompanied me. I suppose it was ‘just in case’ either of us turned out to be complete nutters! I was just like she expected, and she was just like I expected. We had coffee and cake, and it was as if we had always known each other. Just an hour, but it was good to do. She moved to the USA the following year, so we never got to repeat the meet. XXX

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