Mean Creek

  • Review Date: January 25, 2005
  • Rated: R
  • Genre: Drama
  • Release Year: 2004
  • Running Time: 87 minutes

Common Sense Media says

This movie about teens is for adults only.
  • Review Date: January 25, 2005
  • Rated: R
  • Genre: Drama
  • Release Year: 2004
  • Running Time: 87 minutes

Age(i)

NOT FOR KIDS

Quality(i)

 

What parents need to know

Violence

Characters use a gun, cut their skin with a knife, and a character is beaten and another is killed. Tense scenes, injuries and death.

Sex

Very explicit sexual references including insults.

Language

Extremely strong language.

Consumerism
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Drinking, smoking, drug use by teens and kids.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this movie includes extremely strong language and very explicit sexual references, including sexual epithets. A character is called "faggot" and insulted because his fathers are gay. Middle schoolers are challenged to French kiss and others are dared to take off their clothes. There is a bare tush and implied nudity. Characters use a gun, cut their skin with a knife, and a character is beaten and another is killed. Teens and younger kids drink, smoke, and use drugs, and one who declines is insulted and pressured. The movie's themes include vigilante justice and there is a painful reference to suicide.

Parents say

Kids say

What's the story?

When Sam (Rory Culkin) is beat up by a school bully, his older brother Rocky (Trevor Morgan) and his friend Marty (Scott Mechlowicz) plot revenge. They will invite the bully (Josh Peck as George) on a boating trip, telling him it's a birthday party for Sam, and then play a cruel trick on him. On the water, things seem different. George seems vulnerable, almost childishly happy to be included. He explains that maybe his learning disability makes him "a superior being, the future of the race" and uses his video camera to record everything he sees. His aggression seems clumsy rather than hostile. Sam's friend Milly (Carly Shroeder), who knew nothing about the purpose of the trip, makes him promise that they won't try to hurt George. Sam, who has begun to feel sorry for George, agrees, and Rocky reluctantly tells Marty to call off the prank. But Marty has been looking forward to this and it feels like one too many compromises when he wants something to make him feel powerful. Sitting in the boat, far from civilization, they begin a game of Truth or Dare. And then things get tragically out of control.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

MEAN CREEK never makes it all the way from idea to story, but the talented young performers give their characters subtlety and depth far in excess of the script. The screenplay emphasizes the obvious and the characters are too obviously created to fit into neat categories across the range of perspectives. The car they drive to the river has an "honor student" bumper sticker on it. The bully pecking order from Marty's older brother down to Sam is as carefully calibrated as a slide rule. After-school-special level dialogue hangs heavily in the air after it is spoken.

But each member of the cast is remarkable, utterly genuine, transcending the limits of the screenplay, benefiting from sensitive direction. Peck bravely lets us share the kids' mixture of impatience and pity toward George. Culkin provides another touchingly open and brave performance. Mechlowicz is exceptionally impressive, with real leading man potential (more than making up for appearing in the awful Eurotrip). The cinematography is superb, showing us the contrast between the placid surroundings and the explosive emotions. But it is the cast that makes this trip up the creek worthwhile.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about how and why the characters reacted differently to the situations they faced. What is the right way to deal with a bully? Why do the kids have so little faith in the adult world to help them solve their problems? Be sure to notice all of the different tactics characters use to get others to do what they want -- questioning everything from their loyalty and integrity to their manhood. They could also talk about the effect that a secret has on a group and the way it makes the power relationships shift. Instead of bringing them together, it pulls them apart. What do we learn from the cameras in the movie, including George's camera and the one in the police station?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:August 16, 2004
DVD release date:January 24, 2005
Cast:Rory Culkin, Ryan Kelley, Scott Mechlowicz
Director:Jacob Estes
Studio:Paramount Pictures
Genre:Drama
Run time:87 minutes
MPAA rating:R
MPAA explanation:language, sexual references, teen drug use and alcohol use

This review of Mean Creek was written by

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are conducted by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Quality

Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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What parents and kids say

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Adult Written bywonder dove September 16, 2011
AGE
18
QUALITY
 

Must watch! Not for kids.

First of all, I LOVED this film and have seen it several times. It's not one you would find very often, it's unique and very underestimated! It's strictly for the older crowd only, I would say anyone under 16 should wait to watch this. It's a tragic story of a kid who gets bullied at school, his older brother & friends come up with a plan to teach him a lesson, but the prank goes terribly wrong. I like this movie because it's extremely realistic of what teens go through on a daily basis and I think it's important for adults to understand that. Lets be real, kids today do far worse things to their peers than what is presented in this story. The characters do have heart and most of them decide to cancel the prank half way through the trip but then things turn for the worst and it's too late. It's intense, suspenseful with a little light humor & fun to keep things interesting. It's a little slow moving toward the mid-end but still has you glued to the screen. This is the type of film where you really feel for the characters, it makes you think and wonder what you would do in their position at their age. And to me, that is a very well made movie worth watching! There is a lot of strong cussing (A LOT), even by tweens. There isn't that much violence (a few scenes and one intense one) but not overly done. Lots of alcohol use with some drugs involved (marijuana), quite a few sexual references, no real nudity except for a bare butt during a "Truth or Dare" game, lots of insults and references to a character being Gay. Overall, excellent acting (wow!), great cast, very enjoyable film worth watching more than once. Rated a high 7.3 on IMDB site!
What other families should know
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Teen, 16 years old Written bylltrue April 9, 2008
AGENot rated for age
QUALITY
 

Worst Movie Ever

This was a terrible and depressing movie. There was a lot of cussing and a large variety of other things. I hated this movie, I would really not, not, not, not, not, not, not recommend it for any child or adult.
Teen, 17 years old Written byPrincessCharmed797 January 25, 2013
AGE
17
QUALITY
 

Mean Creek

This movie is amazing but not for children 13 or under. I know this movie is rated R but 13 year olds will already understand this stuff. This movie is not appropriate for kids younger than 13 because there is very strong language. This movie has strange violence like the accidental death of a teenager, domestic violence, bullying, robbing a conveniance store and people cutting their arms with a knife. There is also drinking and driving and smoking, some of the characters are definately not good role models. But the other thing parents should look out for is how depressing it is, a teenager drowns in a prank gone wrong and the others are trying to figure out what to do. I do recommend this movie though.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking

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