Jacob Aaron Estes
Release: 20 Aug. 04
BY: DAVID PERRY
“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.