Mean Creek and Deliverance

April 20, 2006

 All my movie reviews will contain spoilers.

I watched Mean Creek yesterday.  It's not the type of film I would typically get excited about, but I'll watch just about anything.  My Netflix queue was getting bare bones before I went through the 101 screenplays list so I pretty much clicked on whatever Netflix recommended to me.

It's about some kids who go on a little boating trip to teach a bully a lesson and things go horribly wrong.  It starts out tame and quiet.  The scene where the bully beats up the kid wasn't particularly brutal or shocking.  Dialogue is typical of kids I guess.  It hasn't been so long since I was that age but I guess I don't remember talking like that.  Names weren't memorable enough to make them stick out in my mind and I'm not going to waste my time trying to figure out which one was which through IMDB.  Their ages seemed a bit odd though, I was trying to figure out which ones were in Middle School, which were in High School and I think at least one looked like he must have graduated years ago.  I know it's typical of movies to cast older people as kids, but when you're making a movie specifically to be a realistic portrayal of kids, then let them be kids.

 After they invite the bully on the boating trip the kids begin to change their minds.  They realize that not everyone is "good" or "bad", but people sometimes do good or bad things.  The behavior of the "friends" is a good example of this, how they hurt each other as much or more than the bully hurt the kid.  Then again, it's not always what you say, but how you say it.  The bully clearly didn't have the social skills to joke with people as opposed to make fun of them. 

 One of the kids sticks to his guns and goes through with the plan to humilate the bully anyway.  The other kids quickly join his side as the bully starts to piss them off with his social ineptitude.  It turns into a shouting match and the bully falls into the water.  He splashes around for a bit and then sinks.  Never shouts "I can't swim".  After he's gone for a bit one of the kids dives in after him but he can't be found.  Then he's seen floating near the bank.  The girl, who is just a symbol of purity I guess because she has no real personality otherwise, tries to recussitate him.  But the bully is dead and all the kids get upset. 

Now their reactions of being upset are reasonable but their decision to hide the body is not.  Any outsider would see that it was an accident, that the bully drowned, and they did try to save him.  Even as a kid I would be smart enough to pass off even purposeful things as accidents. So this is where the movie just starts to piss me off.

Later on in the evening they decide to go to the bully's mom to confess.  Ok, had I been these kids I would have gone to the police instead because it would be awful to have to tell a mom her kid was dead.  Were they trying to punish themselves for it further by adding to the pain? 

The kid that didn't want to turn himself in goes and robs a store and heads to Mexico.  Smart move, way to make yourself look innocent.

And then it ends with the bully's video about how no one understands him and if they could just see inside his brain… ok, by this time I stopped caring.  You know, in a lot of movies a scene like this would have made me get all teary-eyed.  But the bully was stupid.  The kids were stupid.  I just wanted to slap the lot of them.

The movie just ended with a scene of them digging up the bully's body with his mother watching.  WTF is that about anyway?  Any attempt by the filmmakers to make me care at this point is just a waste of my time. 

So then today I watched Deliverance.  I started with the Squeal like a Pig scene since my husband was leaving for work and wanted to see it.  Yep, that's the cultural moment of the year right there.

I think this film is only remembered for it's ability to make an entire generation fear hillbillies.  It's also the only major film I know of with an anal rape scene. 

I didn't really think this would be a film I'd ever see again, and I don't think it deserves to be on the top 101 screenplays list.  But the kind of films I like are the ones that make me feel things, whether it be horror, excitement, joy, sadness… and this film just made me laugh at hillbillies.  The only things I took away from it were "Squeal like a pig" and "He's got a purty mouth, aint he".


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