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Fuck you, Matthew McConaughey.

For years now, I’ve hurled hatred upon McConaughey because he never aspired to be anything. We’ll all forever remember McConaughey as Wooderson in Dazed and Confused (alright, alright, alright), but he’s shown serious potential in other movies like A Time to Kill and the highly underrated Frailty. More recently, McConaughey flushed all his talent down the toilet and wasted his charisma in completely unlikable romantic comedies like The Wedding Planner, How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days, Failure to Launch, Fool’s Gold, and Ghosts of Girlfriends Past. Just look at those fucking movie titles!

That’s not even including Surfer, Dude because I couldn’t bring myself to check to see if it involved a romantic angle. McConaughey’s career was justifiably floundering since he wasn’t seeking out any interesting roles or remotely worthwhile movies.

Finally, McConaughey has started to actually realize his potential.

My cold, icy heart started to melt with Killer Joe. I refuse to watch Magic Mike because it seems like more of the same uninteresting bullshit McConaughey has done in the past. But if his performance in Mud is any indication of a career transformation, McConaughey may win an Oscar for Dallas Buyers Club.

Make no mistake, McConaughey is phenomenal in Mud. Playing the title character, McConaughey’s presence provides a gritty texture as the vagrant Mud—who is on the lamb trying to outrun his bad luck and unfortunate circumstances. Mud catches a break when two boys, Ellis (played by Tye Sheridan) and Neckbone (played by Jacob Lofland), come upon a boat caught up in a tree, which is Mud’s new makeshift hideout/home. It’s hard to envision an actor other than Matthew McConaughey bringing as much to the title role considering there wasn’t a whole lot to work with on the page. Ryan Gosling can do anything, but McConaughey was perfectly at home with his downhome charm in this southern, redneck setting.

When Ellis and Neckbone meet Mud, their lives change forever.

Tye Sheridan

Rare is the occasion when child actors elevate a movie. It’s difficult to even coax an engaging performance from most child actors, but the casting was spot-on in Mud with these kids carrying the movie. Tye Sheridan (as Ellis) did his best Brad Renfro impersonation and Jacob Lofland (as Neckbone) was reminiscent of a young Edward Furlong. Their chemistry together came through on-screen to give Mud some genuine heart and emotion.

Further support is found in a quirky, oddly entertaining performance from Michael Shannon—who was allegedly considered for the role of Mud, but his role as General Zod in Man of Steel was a major hurdle. Instead, we’re all treated to another thoroughly interesting supporting role as Galen, Neckbone’s uncle. One of my favorite lines in Mud comes when Galen is awkwardly attempting to impart some words of wisdom to Neckbone: “So you get your heart broke? Don’t walk around with a shit look on your face. Get back in there, get your tip wet. You hear me?”

McConaughey

While Mud is far from perfect, this movie struck a chord with me. At times, Mud is heartwarming and real with its focus on real-life love and the heartbreak that follows. Everyone should be able to find something like about this movie. If you browse the “rotten” reviews for Mud on Rotten Tomatoes, you’ll find a lot of miserable fucks with an over-inflated sense of self-worth. That’s not to say you shouldn’t have complaints with certain aspects of this movie, but the good severely outweighs the bad in this entertaining endeavor.

In my opinion, the primary issue I have with this movie is its length. As I’ve previously stated, my disdain and hatred for movies longer than two hours is abundant and always increasing. Mud is no exception as nearly 30 minutes could have been easily erased from the 130-minute runtime—quickening the pace.

A relatively minor peeve I personally held was the lack of a true evil presence. It’s unclear as to why exactly Mud is laying low and on the run, but he is in love with Juniper (played by Reese Witherspoon, ho added nothing) and a series of events has sent several bounty hunters on his trail. Mud would have benefited from a more distinguished villain because Joe Don Baker (as King) and Paul Sparks (as Carver) failed to provide any flavor as the forces countering McConaughey.

William Fichtner would have been fantastic at conveying a creepy, dark character to raise this movie up to another level. Most movies don’t know how to end, which is a shame since a sharper ending point can make a much stronger impression. With a somewhat sloppy ending, Mud doesn’t wrap up with a nice bow, but you can’t ignore the 90% of this movie that is supremely satisfying.

McConaughey’s chiseled good looks and irrational charm have finally won me over. I can still never forgive McConaughey for putting out his terrible films into the American populous, but another 4-5 more interesting movies like Killer Joe, Mud, and Dallas Buyers Club will serve as restitution.

If you missed Mud like I did when it was initially released, this is a movie you should seek out immediately.

 

4.5 out of 5 stars

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