Story

Mud is a coming-of-age movie about two adolescent boys, Ellis (Tye Sheridan) and Neckbone (Jacob Lofland). Ellis and Neckbone find a boat that appears among the trees. They claim the boat as their own but soon find that they’re sharing it with a mysterious man called Mud (Matthew McConaughey), who has a troubled and dangerous past. The boys and Mud forge an unlikely friendship as the two boys discover the complexity of Mud’s past and learn a thing or two about life along the way.

Themes

Murder; domestic violence; family breakdown; alcohol abuse

Violence

There is a lot of violence in this movie, including the following examples:

  • Mud kills a man who physically assaults a woman and pushes her down a flight of stairs.
  • A man assaults a woman. One of the teenage boys pushes the man off the woman and punches the man in the eye. The woman is saved and grateful.
  • A man threatens and physically assaults a woman. He picks her up by her throat, chokes her and then cuts her with a knife.
  • Towards the end of the movie there’s a gun fight. Many men are shot and killed, and there are scenes that show men dying. Children are involved in the shoot-out but an adult saves them.
  • Throughout the movie a posse of men hunt Mud and want to kill him. This builds suspense throughout the movie.
  • The boys are given a gun (without bullets).

Content that may disturb children

Under 8

In addition to the violent scenes and scary visual images mentioned above, this movie has some scenes that could scare or disturb children under eight years. For example:

  • A snake bites one of the boys, and the boy gets very sick. He loses consciousness and is taken to hospital.
  • One main character experiences a family breakdown and the separation of his parents. 

From 8-13

Children in this age group could also be disturbed by the violent and disturbing scenes mentioned above, particularly incidents involving children. 

Over 13

There are no other scenes in this movie that are likely to scare or disturb children in this age group, but younger children in this age group might also be disturbed by scenes described above. 

Sexual references

This movie has some sexual references. For example:

  • The two boys talk about sex and a girl’s breasts.
  • The boys look at Penthouse magazines, but the scene doesn’t show the magazine’s pictures. The boys say things like, ‘Check these out’.
  • There’s talk about how a man always has sex to a certain song.
  • An older man tells the two boys to ‘get their tips wet’ when they get their hearts broken. 

Alcohol, drugs and other substances

This movie shows a lot of substance use. For example:

  • Adults drink wine and spirits in many scenes. This includes main characters who drink in bars and alone at various points.
  • One of the main adult characters chain smokes.

Nudity and sexual activity

This movie has some nudity and sexual activity. For example:

  • One of the boys flirts with and dates a girl three years older than he is. During their date they kiss.
  • A woman flirts with a man. They hug and kiss.
  • A girl runs out of a room where she has been having sex with a man (not seen). She is in a revealing singlet top that shows her cleavage. 

Product placement

There is some product placement in this movie, but it’s mostly American brands such as Ford and Pontiac cars. 

Coarse language

There is some coarse language in this movie. 

Ideas to discuss with your children

Mud is a coming-of-age drama about two boys who make an unexpected discovery and forge an unlikely friendship that is destined to alter their lives forever.

The main messages from this movie are about the complexities of right and wrong, the impact of the choices that people make and the possibility of redemption. The presence of young teenage boys in the cast might attract children of a similar age, but the movie is not suitable for children under 15 years because of its themes, violence and sexual references.

Issues raised by this movie that you could talk about with older children include the following:

  • Mud’s redeeming qualities and his mistakes: is he a worthy role model? Why aren’t the boys frightened by him? Should they have been?
  • Relationships: what does this movie say about relationships? What things do you think are important in a successful relationship? What mistakes do people in the movie make that affect their relationships?