Mean Creek


Generally favorable reviews - based on 31 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 28 out of 31
  2. Negative: 0 out of 31

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Critic Reviews

  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. 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.
  4. The acting is remarkable across the board, undoubtedly a combination of a strong script, gifted actors and exceptional direction.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. Never preachy, never sanctimonious nor touchy-feely.
  9. 80
    That rare movie that manages to be not only an adroit, carefully observed study in character and suspense, but important.
  10. Reviewed by: Alan Morrison
    Estes enriches the plot by refusing to present each character's emotional dilemmas in black-and-white terms.
  11. Reviewed by: Scott Foundas
    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. 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.
  13. 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.
  14. 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.
  15. 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.
  16. 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.
  17. 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.
  18. Reviewed by: Peter Debruge
    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.
  19. 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.
  20. 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.
  21. 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.
  22. Has a jumpy, reality-TV kind of feel that adds to the story's sense of unsettling authenticity.
  23. 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.
  24. 70
    Everyone in the cast conveys that messy mix of teen self-consciousness and bravado, but Josh Peck is particularly nuanced as the bully.
  25. 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.
  26. Reviewed by: Mike Clark
    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.

Awards & Rankings

User Score

Generally favorable reviews- based on 36 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 17 out of 20
  2. Negative: 2 out of 20
  1. Nov 16, 2014
    Very under rated film, but extremely good. The best part about this movie was the acting. A lot of suspense throughout the movie and theVery under rated film, but extremely good. The best part about this movie was the acting. A lot of suspense throughout the movie and the plot and writing was incredible. Highly recommend it. Full Review »
  2. Apr 17, 2011

    It starts off with a scene starring Josh Peck, aka Josh from Drake and Josh.

    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 »
  3. Apr 22, 2016
    Wow, talk about actions and reactions. More of an Indie Film, but still pretty good. Worth a one time watch.

    Watch it online for free:
    Wow, talk about actions and reactions. More of an Indie Film, but still pretty good. Worth a one time watch.

    Watch it online for free:
    Full Review »