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Mud Review Critics


Dave White Profile

McConaughey's winning streak, not over yet. Read full review

Other Critics provided by

Critics scores range from 0 to 100, with higher scores indicating more favorable reviews.

  • 4.0

    out of 100

    Generally favorable reviews
    based on a weighted average of all
    critic review scores.

  • 100

    out of 100

    Wall Street Journal Joe Morgenstern

    Jeff Nichols's third feature traffics unerringly in truth, delicious surprise, unadorned beauty and unforced wisdom.

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  • 70

    out of 100

    The Hollywood Reporter

    Jeff Nichols’ much-anticipated follow-up to his breakthrough second feature Take Shelter feels less adventurous and unsettling but remains a well carpentered piece of work marked by some fine performances and resilient thematic fiber.

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  • 75

    out of 100

    USA Today Claudia Puig

    Endearing and believable, the two actors playing Ellis and Neckbone are pitch-perfect.

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  • 75

    out of 100

    ReelViews James Berardinelli

    Reese Witherspoon's unglamorous, understated supporting work recalls the kinds of films she made before becoming a movie star. Other recognizable faces include Sam Shepard, Joe Don Baker, Michael Shannon, and Sarah Paulson.

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  • 80

    out of 100

    Variety Peter Debruge

    Mud poses as a mere adolescent adventure tale but explores a rich vein of grown-up concerns, exploring codes of honor, love and family too solid to be shaken by modernizing forces.

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  • 83

    out of 100

    Entertainment Weekly

    There's something old-fashioned about Mud, but if you allow yourself to settle into its leisurely pace, it will reward you. If he were alive today, Mark Twain would approve.

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  • See all Mud reviews at

For Families provided by Common Sense Media

OK for kids 14+

Poignant coming-of-age tale has some edgy content.

What Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Mud is a nuanced coming-of-age drama about two 14-year-old boys who befriend a mysterious man (Matthew McConaughey) with a dangerous past. Expect plenty of tense sequences, fist-fighting violence, one big shoot-out that leaves several men dead, and a fair bit of strong language (the boys say "s--t" a lot, as well as the occasional "bitch," "ass," and more). As for sexuality, one of the boys is smitten with an older girl, and they share a couple of kisses; his friend asks about her "t-tties" and is excited to find a stash of old Penthouse magazines (no graphic images shown). An uncle is known for "doing it" to the song "Help Me, Rhonda" and gives the boys terrible advice. Despite the film's language and references to adolescent and adult sexuality, Mud is the kind of thought-provoking film that teens and parents could watch and discuss together.

  • Families can talk about the similarities between Mud and other stories about kids who befriend enigmatic older characters, like Huckleberry Finn or To Kill a Mockingbird. How does the movie contain elements of both a Southern Gothic and a coming-of-age story?
  • In what ways does Mud's setting influence the boys' personalities? How are they different than the people they consider "townies"? What does Ellis' father mean about enjoying the river while he can?
  • There's a lot of talk about love and relationships. What relationship models do Ellis and Neckbone have in their lives? Are any of them positive? Why is Ellis so heartbroken about Juniper and Mud's relationship? What are his views on love?
  • Do you think Mud is a man worth helping, or not? On the one hand, he's a criminal and a known liar, but on the other, his actions seemed justifiable by his love. The filmmaker, like the boys, doesn't judge Mud too harshly -- but what about you?

The good stuff
  • message true1

    Messages: This is a story about redemption and love and the universal heartache that comes with growing up and being rejected and not knowing what's right and what's wrong. Ellis and Neckbone are constantly given advice about what it means to be a man, to love a woman, and to protect those you love, but they have to discover what's true for themselves.

  • rolemodels true0

    Role models: Not a ton of clear role models -- the boys make questionable decisions, Mud admits he killed a man, Juniper doesn't keep her promise, and Galen is an admitted womanizer. But when it comes down to it, Mud is willing to put himself at risk for the boys, and vice versa. The characters' friendships are unconditional, as is Ellis' parents love for him.

What to watch for
  • violence false2

    Violence: Several fist fights, two between teenage boys and one in which an adult pops a teen boy in the eye. A man nearly chokes a woman and cuts her with a knife. A boy is bitten by a snake; his leg swells horribly, and he slips into unconsciousness before being taken to the hospital. A big gun fight toward the end of the movie leaves several people dead or injured.

  • sex false2

    Sex: A 14-year-old boy flirts with an older girl and goes on one date with her. They kiss twice. Neckbone asks Ellis whether he touched a girl's "t-tties" and excitedly flips through a stack of Penthouse magazines (no graphic images shown) saying innuendo-filled exclamations like "You've got to see these." Neckbone tells Ellis that "Help Me, Rhonda" is his uncle's "'doing it' song," and then a woman in a cleavage-baring tank top runs out and tells Neckbone that he should treat a girl like a princess, not like his no-good uncle. A woman flirts with and embraces a man who nuzzles on her neck. The uncle tells the boys that when a woman breaks your heart, you have to go find another and "get your tip wet again." A 17-year-old girl is shown laughing and flirting with a boy in his car.

  • language false2

    Language: The word "s--t" is used in nearly every scene, especially by one of the boys. Other strong language includes "bitch," "bulls--t," "t-tties," "ass," "hard on," and more.

  • consumerism false2

    Consumerism: Cans of Beanie Weenie are shown a couple of times. Many Ford trucks. A Geo Metro and Pontiac Fiero are shown. Neckbone wears a Fugazi T-shirt. People shop at a Piggy Wiggly.

  • drugsalcoholtobacco false2

    Drinking, drugs and smoking: A few adult characters drink quite a bit -- Ellis' father, Mud, Juniper -- usually alone, but also at a bar. An adult smokes cigarettes.