Movie Review: Mud

Written and Directed by Jeff Nichols
Starring: Matthew McConaughey, Reese Witherspoon, Tye Sheridan, Jacob Lofland, Michael Shannon, Sarah Paulson
Lionsgate/Roadside Attractions
Rated PG-13 | 130 Minutes
Released April 26, 2013 (Limited)

As we are about to begin the big summer movie season, I decided to head out to my local independent movie theater, and luckily for us folks in Milwaukee, we have two to choose from. I headed to the Downer and after hearing that they finally converted to digital projectors, I got my popcorn, frozen Junior Mints, and soda, then headed into the theater for Mud.

It seems there are a few movies coming out that deal with kids on their summer breaks or something along the lines of Stand By Me or Adventureland. And in Mud, which was written and directed by Jeff Nichols (Take Shelter, a movie worth checking out and I would suggest checking out the numerous episodes and discussions on the /Film podcast about it, after seeing it of course).

But his follow up movie, Mud, deals about two kids, Ellis (Tye Sheridan, Tree of Life) and Neckbone (Jacob Lofland), both with families that are far from perfect. Ellis’ parents are on the verge of a divorce and Neckbone, who lives with his Uncle Galen (Michael Shannon, Take Shelter), who dives in the local river for pearls in a homemade diving suit. They live in Arkansas near the banks of a river, and spend most of their days exploring in a boat, when Ellis is not helping his dad sell fish to the local townsfolk. They head off to an island and find a boat that has been left up in a tree from the last floods, but it seems that someone has already claimed the boat, a mysterious man, named Mud (Matthew McConaughey, Magic Mike). Mud seems to be waiting to meet up with someone, his girl Juniper (Reese Witherspoon, Walk the Line), and their relationship has had it’s up and downs, and at its lowest point, is the reason Mud is in hiding, while a group of men are on the hunt for him. You would think that these kids would be afraid of Mud, but they end up helping him and become intertwined into something a little more than they were expecting. Ellis is the somewhat romantic of the two kids, and that is why he is willing to help Mud, because all of the things he does is for his girl. And with him dealing with his parents getting a divorce and a crush on a high school girl, he is going to learn a lot about love by the end of this movie.

After watching the mind fuck that was Take Shelter, I can say that I was intrigued in seeing this one. Well there wasn’t much mind-fucking going on in Mud, although I will say it was on the long side. It seemed a few of the side plots could have been trimmed a little and kept the pacing a little quicker. But there were some great performances from Tye Sheridan and of course from Matthew McConaughey, who was sort of playing the same role he usually does, albeit a bit of a darker side in this movie. I don’t think this is one you need to seek out to see in theaters, but I would say it’s worth waiting for it to hit streaming or the premium cable channels.


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