Mean Creek (2004)

mean creek poster 2004 movie
8.5 Overall Score
Story: 9/10
Acting: 8/10
Visuals: 9/10

Smart writing


Movie Info

Movie Name:  Mean Creek

Studio:  Paramount Classics

Genre(s):  Drama

Release Date(s):  January 15, 2004 (Sundance)/May 14, 2004 (Cannes)/August 20, 2004 (US)

MPAA Rating: R


Yeah…you’re going to take it, kid!

George (Josh Peck) is a bully.  Held back and big for his age, George constantly beats on Sam (Rory Culkin) and other kids in the class.  When Sam’s brother Rockey (Trevor Morgan) gets the idea to teach George a lesson, a day on the river turns into a day of bad decisions that will change lives forever.

Written and directed by Jacob Aaron Estes, Mean Creek was an independent drama.  The movie made the rounds at festivals and received critical acclaim for the young actors and style.

Mean Creek is a rough movie.  It is rough because there is a lot that feels real about it.  As an adult, you look back at school and think about the bullies and realize how messed up many of them were…but that doesn’t matter at the time and it doesn’t stop you from getting bullied.  Adults feel bullies can be controlled, but that also isn’t true and often it comes down to kids making decisions on how to handle the situations…and the choices aren’t always right.


His daddy splattered his brains, all over the wall! His daddy splattered his brains, all over the wall!!!

The story does a good job balancing out the kids.  Yes, Rory probably would have been bullied and so would the kid with the gay father.  What the movie does do, is it makes Josh Peck’s George character not likable but understandable.  He himself has problems, he’s been held back a number of times, has no friends, and is an only child who has probably always gotten his way.  He attempts to fit in but still reverts back to his bad side frequently.

The casting is great.  Most kids of the kids give a good performance though some are better actors than others.  I still commend how they worked with the script and gave it that sense of realism it needed by having rather normal looking kids.  There are so few adults in the film and that is a kid’s life…kid world and adult world don’t mix.



The movie a nice style to it.  Shot in Oregon, the setting and the cinematography are top notch.  The day on the river is sunny and bright but with George’s death the scene and the scenery turns cold and dark.  Nature (and their lives) have been ruined by this event and nothing can fix it.

Mean Creek is an interesting movie, and I think despite its R-Rating, that most kids would understand it because even at a young age, they have already started to experience events in the film.  I hope that this movie gets a cult following over the years and isn’t forgotten because it is smart are still an interesting film even over ten years later.  Bullies are a problem that are never going away, and I hope the film doesn’t either.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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