Recently I stumbled across the 2004 film release "Mean Creek" starring Rory Culkin (and some lesser known actors). Upon first viewing this film I was not overly impressed; I felt it touched on some important issues but did not penetrate them deeply as I would have liked (this was my first impression). However, as good films do, it stayed with me, and as the scenes and characters weighed on my mind, I realized the impact the movie had made.
To briefly summarize the film, some teen and adolescent school friends hatch a plan to lure a bully named George onto a camping trip they are taking, in order to play a prank as revenge for terrorizing the young Rory Culkin character. Once the children are alone with George in the woods, they begin to get to know him better, and the kids begin debating amongst themselves whether or not George is the cruel thug they thought he was, or just a misunderstood outcast. Because of the manipulations of one of the older boys named Marty, the children go through with the prank (somewhat), but the plan goes awry, and the George character comes to a tragic end. For me, what makes this film stand out the most, is how true to life the characters are. Though not without their vices, the children are not particularly bad, or totally devoid of morality like characters in teen films with similar plots ("I Know What You Did Last Summer" comes to mind). They are typical American kids, who find themselves in this tragic situation not because of any particularly glaring moral defects, but because of a lack of understanding of their emotions and each other. The movie explores the inevitable negative and sometimes life altering consequences that can occur when we react or overreact when others hurt us and we respond in the same way we were treated, without first searching to see what's beneath the surface. No matter what age you are, thinking deeply about the lessons in this film might make us think twice about how we react to similar situations we may encounter in our own lives. If you get a chance to see this movie, it is definitely worth a viewing.