Mud (2012)

9.0 Overall Score
Story: 9/10
Acting: 9/10
Visuals: 9/10

Good cast, good looking, layered story

A couple predictable moments

Movie Info

Movie Name:  Mud

Studio:  Lionsgate

Genre(s):  Drama

Release Date(s):  May 26, 2012 (Cannes)/April 26, 2013 (US)

MPAA Rating:  PG-13


My name is Mud

Ellis (Tye Sheridan) is discovering life as he knows it is falling apart.  His father (Ray McKinnon) and mother (Sarah Paulson) are splitting up, and Ellis is going to have to leave the house and river that he loves.  When Ellis and his best friend Neckbone (Jacob Lofland) find a mysterious man named Mud (Matthew McConaughey) on an island in the river, they begin to help him try to get his love Juniper (Reese Witherspoon) back…despite the danger.

Written and directed by Jeff Nichols, Mud is a coming-of-age drama.  The film debuted at Cannes and was well received by critics.  The movie received wider release in 2013 after a showing at Sundance and was a financial success due to its low production budget.


Me and Huck…I mean Neckbone are just stoppin’ by the island for a treasure

Mud is a fun movie.  It is strong because it can be viewed multiple ways.  The movie is both a straight forward drama (with some action), and it can also be watched as a parallel to the classic novels The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (1867) and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1884).

The drama for the film is strong, but I enjoy the parallel story more.  Many credit it as a Huckleberry Finn adaptation but it is much closer to Tom Sawyer.  It doesn’t straight-up adapt the story but takes many aspects of it.  You have Tom (Ellis) who is rather alone and his more carefree friend Huckleberry (Neckbone).  The Mud character is a blend of the criminal Injun Joe and Jim (bringing in more of the Huckleberry Finn story).  It is fun to draw these rather obvious parallels and see how they unfold in a modern telling.

The cast is also good.  Both Tye Sheridan and Jacob Lofland are both good child actors and they are backed up by McConaughey and Witherspoon who also do a strong job.  The movie’s supporting cast of both Ray McKinnon and Sarah Paulson.  I wish that the script had done a bit more with Joe Don Baker who played the patriarch of the “evil” family and the same is true of Michael Shannon as Neckbone’s guardian.


Another tale of the river…

Visually the movie was also good.  It had a strange blend of Southern Gothic despite being bright and well lit (and a bit further north than most Southern Gothic stories) and a love of the river.  It is obvious that it was shot in a way to not fear the danger of a major river, and that you were supposed to feel the pain that Ellis was feeling about having to leave his childhood home…and it worked.

Overall the movie is good.  It had a few pitfalls like the overly stressed water moccasin pit-o-death which seemed to be easier to clean out than keep walking over…you knew someone was going to fall in it and there were other predictable moments as well.  The acting, the allusions to Twain’s famous novels, and the visuals override any weaknesses.  Seek out Mud and enjoy a trip down the river.

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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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