This is the movie Reese Witherspoon was about to promote when she had her infamous “Do you know who I am?” public meltdown. She’s apologized, and I forgive her … but don’t let it happen again, okay, Reese?
A sensitive movie with 14-year-olds in it stands or dies by the performances of the youngsters, and Ty Sheridan as Ellis and Jacob Lofland as his buddy Neckbone are quite good, and able to keep up with Matthew McConaughey as the man known only as Mud. He’s hiding out on an island in the Mississippi River in Arkansas, living in a boat that got stranded high up in a tree during a flood. He needs to rendezvous with his girlfriend, avoid some very mean guys who are chasing him, and get the boat down and repaired so they can escape down the river. Very little of it will surprise you, but it’s absorbing and it kept me going all the way through. And it’s a good portrait of a way of life that, like so much, is vanishing into the drab cookie-cutter world of Townhouse, Franchise, Big Box, and Shopping Mall America. These people live in what you might call houseboats, though houseshacks is a better term. But they like it there, eking out a subsistence living diving for clams in home-made suits and peddling fresh fish all over town.