Children Need Positive Adult Supervision
Release Date: August 20, 2004
Starring: Rory Culkin, Scott Mechlowicz,
Carly Schroeder, Josh Peck,
Trevor Morgan, and Ryan Kelley
Audience: Older teenagers and adults
Runtime: 87 minutes
Distributor: Paramount Classics
Director: Jacob Aaron Estes
Rick Rosenthal, Susan Johnson
and Hagai Shaham
Producer: Rick Rosenthal, Susan Johnson
and Hagai Shaham EXECUTIVE
PRODUCERS: Nancy Stephens,
Gigi Pritzker and Deborah Del
Writer: Jacob Aaron Estes
BASED ON THE
NOVEL/PLAY BY: N/A
Address Comments To:David Dinerstein and Ruth Vitale
A Division of Paramount Pictures
5555 Melrose Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90038
Phone: (323) 956-2000
Fax: (323) 862-1012
The movie opens with a fat teenager named George beating up a smaller, younger teenager, Sam, on the school playground. At home, Sam complains about the incorrigible bully to his older brother, Rocky, who says he’ll think of some way to teach George a lesson.
Rocky consults his friends Marty and Clyde. Marty is a gregarious, beer drinking, pot smoking teenager. Clyde is a shy teenager who suffers teasing because he lives with his perverted homosexual father and his dad’s boyfriend.
Marty tells Rocky and Clyde, “We’re gonna smoke that ham,” meaning George. They convince George to go with them, Sam, and Sam’s cute girlfriend Millie on a canoe trip in the woods, on Sam’s alleged birthday. There, they plan to strip George and make him walk home naked.
George surprises them, however, by showing up with a birthday present for Sam and trying to make friends. Although George lacks social graces, Sam and his brother get cold feet about Marty’s plan, but this irks Marty, who’s upset that George beats up younger children and even hit Clyde with a baseball bat one time. Marty instigates a game of Truth or Dare, which results in Marty and George revealing the troubled, angry natures within them. An accidental death occurs, and the remaining teenagers must decide how they are going to handle the situation.
Most of MEAN CREEK’s young actors deliver brilliant performances, but the R-rated movie contains lots of strong foul language by a couple of the teenagers, a few crude sexual references, and some underage alcohol abuse, marijuana smoking, and cigarette smoking. There are also some other problematic aspects to the story, such as the lack of any apparent adult supervision of these teenagers.
MEAN CREEK aims at a realistic portrayal of the problems American teenagers face, which is another reason it’s getting such high praise, but it neglects some of the more uplifting aspects of teen life in order to concentrate on more disturbing and sensationalistic areas. It also briefly mentions the subjects of God and forgiveness in two interesting scenes, but without saying anything substantial about them. Also, despite its humanist worldview, the movie presents a Romantic view of the local school bully, George, who turns out to be misunderstood and suffering from dyslexia instead of being someone who lets his sinful nature get the better of him too often.
These failures dilute the moral impact of the movie. They also clearly demonstrate that MEAN CREEK is not really as daring or provocative as it wants to be, and as the elite critics proclaim.
A more daring, more provocative, more artistic, and more realistic drama about American teenagers would have deleted most, if not all, of the cliché foul language, would have added a zero tolerance message for teenage drug and alcohol use, and would have the courage to fairly and intelligently deal with the religious issues of its subject matter, and even perhaps include a positive portrayal of an intelligent, God-fearing, respectful teenager who could offer teenage moviegoers a positive role model for a change. Now, that would be a really provocative and daring concept for a movie! Frankly, it’s getting very boring hearing today’s humanist, pagan filmmakers and critics congratulating themselves for making and praising R-rated, provocative dramas like MEAN CREEK with gratuitous foul language, sexual references, drug scenes, and no strong religious themes or premises, or even anti-religious or anti-Christian themes and premises.
The good news about MEAN CREEK, however, is that all of the teenagers except Marty come to their senses, become responsible, and decide to do the right thing, even though it may greatly cost them. The movie also contains some sweet, funny scenes between some of the teens, especially Sam and his girlfriend, Millie. Ultimately, the movie does show that children and teenagers will get into big trouble if they lack involved, loving adult supervision. Teenagers also need the supervision of involved, loving, and Christian mothers and fathers. Of course, there are millions of American children and teenagers who do have such supervision. It’s time for filmmakers to make a good, intelligent, faith-based drama acknowledging that fact.
Most of MEAN CREEK’s young actors deliver brilliant performances, and the movie ends on a moral note. The movie is R-rated, however, and contains lots of strong foul language, a few crude sexual references, and underage alcohol abuse, and marijuana and cigarette smoking. It also has a humanist worldview, with a Romantic view of the bully, which fails to develop brief religious references to God and forgiveness in two scenes. The movie does show, however, that teenagers need involved, loving adult supervision. Teenagers also need involved, loving, Christian mothers and fathers.