• Mean Creek (SBS Movies)Source: SBS Movies

George (Joshua Peck) is the school bully, an unpleasant fat kid with an aggressive personality. When Sam (Rory Culkin) tells his older brother Rocky (Trevor Morgan) that George hit him at school, revenge plans are hatched. The plan is to invite George on a trip down the river with friends Marty (Scot Mechlowicz), Clyde (Ryan Kelley) and Sam\'s girlfriend Millie (Carly Schroeder), and humiliate him. But in this new environment, Sam sees George in a whole different light and wants to call the whole thing off.

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Mean Creek is a modestly made American independent, the feature debut by Jacob Aaron Estes, which he developed under the tutelage of a screenwriting fellowship in addition to being awarded a humanitarian prize at last year?s Sundance Film Festival. Mean Creek has an archetypal plot ? how many movies have we seen where foul play takes place by or on a river? (The River Wild, Deliverance, again, River?s Edge?) Sam (Rory Culkin) is being bullied at school by George (Joshua Peck), a big angry kid with a learning disorder. After telling his older brother Rocky (Trevor Morgan), a plan is hatched by Rocky and his bored mates to teach ?Georgie? a lesson he?ll never forget. A day trip up the river is mapped out only things don?t go quite according to plan. In spite of the festival accolades and awards that Mean Creek brings with it, I didn?t think it was ?all that?. You get the feeling that you?ve seen it all before only better. The three aforementioned films - which really set the benchmark for this teen drama genre - are so much better by comparison. But even looking at Mean Creek on its own merits, the film falls down and becomes grating. The end is signposted way too early and the script ? in spite of mostly excellent performances by its young cast - is over-earnest and derivative. It does not have a unique voice or take on the situation, and is not in the least bit dangerous or compelling in the way you would most certainly expect it to be. It may well be a ?character? piece, but the intrigue the film seems to be moving towards ? as to how the conclusion will play out ? falls away like one of the muddy embankments the kids find themselves mired in once the proverbial hits the fan.Mean Creek should have smouldered with serious tension. Instead it fizzles out like a damp campfire, less another incredible film about f*#cked up teens to add to the pantheon, and more like a cautionary tale written by concerned parents.