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?
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