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Mud [Blu-ray + Digital]
Blu-ray + Digital + Ultraviolet
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Mud is an adventure about two boys, Ellis and his friend Neckbone, who find a man named Mud hiding out on an island in the Mississippi. Mud describes fantastic scenarios-he killed a man in Texas and vengeful bounty hunters are coming to get him. He says he is planning to meet and escape with the love of his life, Juniper, who is waiting for him in town. Skeptical but intrigued, Ellis and Neckbone agree to help him. It isn't long until Mud's visions come true and their small town is besieged by a beautiful girl with a line of bounty hunters in tow.
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Top Customer Reviews
Our main hero is Ellis, played by Tye Sheridan. He and his buddy Neckbone (Jacob Lofland) spend their days rattling along the dusty roads on Neckbone's dirtbike or putting across the Arkansas River on Ellis' skiff, looking for stuff to get into. There's a great moment near the beginning of the film as the boys are motoring past the narrow familiar banks: suddenly, an endless horizon ahead of sea and sky. (OK, film students, that's what's called a Symbol.) And sure enough, once they bank up on a small island prone to getting completely submerged in floods, they find a filthy-looking Matthew McConaughey. The kids had been looking to retrieve a boat that had wrecked near the top of a tall tree, but discover McConaughey has been living in it. Why? Because he's on the run from the law and from bounty hunters. The cops want to arrest him; the bounty hunters want to kill him. The boys have found their new project for the summer: getting the man off the island.
McConaughey convinces as the tattered vagabond. He speaks in a strange cadence and he's a little kooky, but he's also skilled in the masculine arts of knot-tying, cigarette smoking, pistol packing, bonfire making, and boat-building. The boys are inevitably enraptured, but I note that Neckbone (the Tom Sawyer stand-in, I'm guessing) requires a little more time to be convinced. "BS!" he coughs to Ellis as McConaughey is describing his beautiful girlfriend. "What do WE get out of it?" he asks after McConaughey asks them to help him out. Somehow I'm not worried about Neckbone, despite his dingy, impoverished circumstances living with his uncle. One gets the feeling he'll make out in life.
Not so sure about Ellis, though, despite his smile at the end of the picture -- in fact, because of it. After what the movie puts him through, he should know better. He's a natural romantic, a true Southerner. He's quick to throw a punch and fancies himself tough enough to take one. He gets awfully wrapped up in fixing the romance between McConaughey and Reese Witherspoon: he eagerly passes notes between his miserable island and her motel. (Poor Neckbone doubtfully and rather wearily tags along.) Females mystify him. Having suckerpunched a senior who was bothering a girl he's had his eye on, he assumes that he's now the girl's knight-errant, despite being at least 2 or 3 years younger than her. His parents are divorcing because his mother no longer wants to live on the houseboat where his dad hopelessly plies his subsistence trade of selling fish caught from the river -- this upsets the romantic Ellis. "I'm not a townie!" he says to his father on the prospect of moving into apartment with his mom after the divorce. He's not realistic, and it will hurt him later in life. Sam Shepard as the weird old neighbor across the river tries to set the kid straight on a few points, but he ain't having any of it.
The women in "Mud" act out of mysterious motives -- mysterious to the men, at least. McConaughey always finds excuses for Witherspoon's behavior. Ellis' mom is hardly in the film -- we get to know her mostly through the conversations between Ellis and his bitter father (Ray McKinnon). The young girls kiss you one minute, call you "just some kid" the next. And what's not understood is foolishly romanticized (McConaughey / Witherspoon) or bitterly resented (McKinnon / Sarah Paulson). Those looking to understand the *male* motives can get a small education with this movie.
4 out of 5 -- the fifth star is withheld because FIsher incorrectly felt that his film needed some action at the end to wake people up. His very Hollywoodized solution to his film's ending is a serious disappointment, considering that what came before was so good and true.
The always excellent Matthew McConaughey anchors the film as the titular character. He's a likeable rogue, and the audience can't help but like him, even though it's almost certain his stories are all lies. His charisma draws the boys into his world. Ty Sheridan plays Ellis, a resourceful, stoic boy who is taking his first tentative steps into manhood. Sheridan plays the role with just the right combination of energy and understatement. He's intense, but also reserved, which works well with the movie's subject matter and setting. He's used to doing things on his own, and was raised to keep his emotions hidden.
Reese Witherspoon rounds out the cast as Mud's love interest Juniper. Like the rest of the cast, she plays her role with a quiet intensity that works well.
The film is well-written, well-acted, and shot in an understated manner that focuses on the characters rather than the plot. It's a great story of a boy's loss of innocence, and well worth watching.
Matt McConaughey, is a great character actor. He plays a running for his life loser trying to survive daily from mistakes of his past. Stuck on an island in the middle of the river, living in a boat lodged in a tree from the last flood through the area. With clothes on back (this white shirt he is very fond of) jeans & a pistol, he waits for his girlfriend to come to his rescue! Alias, two boys arrive by small boat from a nearby town to explore the island & find Matt's boat in the trees & then Matt. He bribes the boys with the boat & getting it out of the trees then to water for them. The boys bring food, water, stolen boat motor & word from girlfriend hiding in a motel room. Girl can't move without the father & bounty hunters all over her. See, Matt, has killed the rich guys son. The whole movie is very southern, snakes, lot of Arkansas speak & cause Mama said so!