Metascore
74

Generally favorable reviews - based on 31 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 28 out of 31
  2. Negative: 0 out of 31
  1. One of very few films to accurately portray the experience of growing up male.
  2. Although the talent of a kid with the last name of Culkin may not, at this point, register as such a novelty -- Rory follows brothers Macaulay and Kieran -- there is something precociously mature but natural about the work of this youngest Culkin sibling that stands apart.
  3. Reviewed by: Duane Byrge
    90
    Intelligent, universal tale.
  4. The acting is remarkable across the board, undoubtedly a combination of a strong script, gifted actors and exceptional direction.
  5. Mean Creek's greatest asset is its sense of truth. It doesn't pander to or indulge its characters like the teen films we're used to. It looks at them straight ahead and with respect. It's something you wish Hollywood, and even parents, did more often.
  6. 88
    Adults should find its simmering drama at least as compelling as teens will, even if parental figures are only slightly more present here than in a " Peanuts" comic strip.
  7. 88
    By entering such fertile, intellectually stimulating and psychologically rich territory, Estes provides us with a freshman feature that is far beyond the generic coming-of-age tale Mean Creek initially seems to be.
  8. 80
    There isn't a one-note character in the mix, and they respond with haunting, subtle performances that feel utterly natural and unaffected. It's a striking debut for Estes, and a remarkable showcase for the cast.
  9. Reviewed by: Alan Morrison
    80
    Estes enriches the plot by refusing to present each character's emotional dilemmas in black-and-white terms.
  10. 80
    Dyslexic, talkative, and permanently tethered to a video camera that documents his solitary life and vivid fantasy world, Peck, in a stunning performance, resonates as both monster and victim, predator and prey.
  11. Reviewed by: Scott Foundas
    80
    Estes' debut feature's strength lies in its crackling intensity, ultra-sharp character insights and an affinity for teenage protagonists who look and sound like real teens.
  12. Never preachy, never sanctimonious nor touchy-feely.
  13. 80
    That rare movie that manages to be not only an adroit, carefully observed study in character and suspense, but important.
  14. Like a kindler, gentler "Bully," Mean Creek hinges on the bullied fighting back against the aggressor, but offers a more expansive examination of aggression and, even more significantly, passivity.
  15. 75
    The final act of the film is extraordinary. How unusual it is to see kids this age in the movies seriously debating moral rights and wrongs and considering the consequences of their actions.
  16. If Estes' future efforts can offer us such potent, character-centered Molotov cocktails, Mean Creek may well signal the rise of America's next auteur director.
  17. Imagine a bolder "Bully" blended with a more probing "River's Edge" and you'll have some idea of this little drama's strong dramatic and emotional power.
  18. 75
    In addition to providing a textbook example of suspense, Estes also makes us want to know what happens to these kids after the screen goes dark.
  19. A welcome departure from typical movies about teens, wherein their problems are external (the prom, status). Mean Creek is an adult movie that just happens to star young actors.
  20. 75
    Many indie films about adolescents these days - like Gus Van Sant's "Elephants" - are willfully amoral. Mean Creek isn't - and it's the first indie since "Thirteen" that parents should make required viewing for teens.
  21. Has a jumpy, reality-TV kind of feel that adds to the story's sense of unsettling authenticity.
  22. Reviewed by: Peter Debruge
    75
    Exceptionally strong performances from the entire cast draw you into the movie's deliberately provocative world, a "Lord of the Flies"–like realm where parents are noticeably absent.
  23. After a solid start and a strong buildup through two acts, the movie fumbles the resolution. Ethical lines that were convincingly wavy suddenly straighten out, too quickly and too neatly.
  24. Reviewed by: Brad Slager
    70
    Estes and his team did an admirable job in bringing together a team of youthful actors who carry the weight of a fairly weighty movie.
  25. Like an uncommonly artful and well-acted after-school special. I don't mean this as a put-down: its combination of realism and fretful moral inquiry is best suited to the tastes and sensibilities of young teenagers who devour young-adult fiction.
  26. 70
    Everyone in the cast conveys that messy mix of teen self-consciousness and bravado, but Josh Peck is particularly nuanced as the bully.
  27. Reviewed by: Mike Clark
    63
    A promising debut by young writer/director Jacob Estes, this story of a botched revenge plot still isn't likely to break out even in multiplex August dog days.
  28. 50
    Estes never really completes a thought about this sorry group's moral dilemmas.
  29. As obvious in many ways as its title (and its poster), Mean Creek retains a gritty working-class ambience, but it feels over-rehearsed.
  30. Reviewed by: Joanne Kaufman
    40
    As in most movies of this sort from "Rebel Without a Cause" to "West Side Story" to last year's "Thirteen," adults are marginalized, clueless or absent. I'm with them.
User Score
8.0

Generally favorable reviews- based on 29 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 16 out of 18
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 18
  3. Negative: 2 out of 18
  1. Apr 17, 2011
    9
    http://mushreviews.blogspot.com/2011/04/mean-creek.html

    It starts off with a scene starring Josh Peck, aka Josh from Drake and Josh.
    Honestly, I almost stopped it there... Him? In a serious sounding role? This could not end well... Or could it?

    Luckily it did. For those who haven't heard of this movie it revolves around a bully (Josh Peck) and his "victim", Sam. Sam wants to get back at him and enlists his brother and his brothers friends. They devise a prank that involves getting the bully, George, onto the river, daring him to strip naked, leaving him and making him run home naked. Of course as you can see by the poster...things turn dreary.

    This movie was honestly one of the hardest movies to watch I feel. So excruciating to watch as you know what they are planning to do, humiliate this bully. At first you feel bad for Sam as he got beat up, but then you get to know George and see that he actually just wants to be friends with them all and he has a learning disability and such. So watching them plot, scheme, and lie to his face knowing that he eventually is going to be hurt... so painful to watch. It gets even more painful when the climax occurs and the "accident" happens.

    The rest of the movie after the climax is just as painful to watch and just as emotionally draining. It follows the same characters, sans George, as they have to make huge decisions in their life and face the consequences. What makes this movie so good is the fact that as you are watching it you can easily put yourself into their positions and that turns this movie into a whole new perspective. You feel their distress, their sadness, their anger, their motives. You are Sam, you are George, you are every single one of those characters at once and feel all what they are going through. This movie will leave you in shambles.
    Full Review »