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This review is from: Mean Creek [DVD]  [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC] (DVD)
George, the fat boy at school, is also the school bully, and in order to teach George a lesson Sam, his favorite victim, his big brother and his friends invite him on a boat outing, planning to humiliate him and make him walk back to town naked. Unexpected things happen, and the gang makes a pact ...
"If you could snap your fingers right now, and he would stop dead in his tracks, would you do it?", good-girl Millie asks Sam, and obviously he wouldn't, no matter how obnoxious George really is. On the boat George is more annoying than ever, a very unlovable kid, but does he deserve to die? "He's a stupid fat kid, and he's got problems", someone says, but god knows George provokes fate no end, and in the end it does ruin the good intentions of writer-director Jacob Aaron Estes. Because nobody on the boat, none of the would-be bullies or would-be avengers, actually strike out, nobody does any killing. So actually everyone escapes scot-free. Which makes the last fourth of the film rather pointless.
Having said that, (and don't get me wrong, it IS a quite damning testimony on a picture that pretends to have moral ambiguity) 'Mean Creek' is quite a thrilling adventure. Writer Estes' premise has a potential that director Estes isn't quite up to. For starters it is interesting what we the viewers would make of an obese, dyslexic kid becoming the cruel joke, but Estes doesn't have the guts to carry his idea through, and you lose interest immediately after that.
So, yes, 'Mean Creek' is inspired by John Boorman's early 70's masterpiece 'Deliverance', but its artistic courage pales by comparison. Much too much political correctness, much too few guts.
Acting is great throughout. Watching these kids interact in a totally natural, unforced way is wonderful. Hunky and troubled Scott Mechlowicz is already on his way to stardom, deservedly, and others might follow.
So, watch it for the suspense and the acting, but don't expect wonders. Just don't expect another 'Deliverance' or even a very important movie.