> Volume 6 > Number 27


Jacob Aaron Estes

Rory Culkin
Ryan Kelley
Scott Mechlowicz
Trevor Morgan
Josh Peck
Carly Schroeder

Release: 20 Aug. 04

Mean Creek


“We need to hurt him without really hurting him,” says one of the schemers in Mean Creek, a wholly unpleasant morality story in which a pack of kids decide to take revenge on the class bully by embarrassing him on a canoe ride. I’d swear that I read this script during workshop in a screenwriting class in college, and I think that I was pretty nasty in my remarks, criticism that came flooding back to me while watching Mean Creek.

Set in an Oregon devoid of any police protection (cf. Fahrenheit 9/11), this story gets progressively repugnant as the collective of entirely unlikable characters (universally played by horrible actors) do their best to make each other feel bad. Here’s a film in which a trio of friends are connected only by the suicide of one’s parent, the unctuous problems of one’s brother, and the gay partner of one’s father. While most kids would call each other names without malice, these kids seem intent on hurting their close friends feelings.

Much like Cabin Fever played horribly straight, this amateurish film feels like it should be better but is constantly hitting all the wrong marks. The only part that’s not half-assed is the fat kid filming it all with his digital video camera. This bully dressed as a cherub brings to mind Michael Moore, and his violent enemies personify a teenage Carlyle Group

©2004, David Perry,, 2 July 2004