The Mudge Boy (2003)

The Mudge Boy (2003)

The Mudge Boy



Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

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Movie Info

Writer/director Michael Burke makes his feature-length debut with the coming-of-age drama The Mudge Boy. Known as a weird kid, Duncan Mudge (Emile Hirsch) is a naïve 14-year-old farm boy with an aging father, Edgar (Richard Jenkins), and very little social life. When Duncan's mother suddenly dies, he develops a strange fascination with her clothes, speaks in her voice, and spends his time with his pet chicken. His father and the other people in the town just don't understand his behavior, while … More

Rating: R (for strong sexual content including graphic dialogue, a rape, and language)
Genre: Drama
Directed By: ,
Written By: Michael Burke, Michael Cross Burke
In Theaters:
On DVD: May 9, 2006
Strand Releasing

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as Duncan Mudge

as Edgar Mudge

as Perry Foley

as Scotty

as Juster (uncredited)

as Lydia Mudge

as Ray Blodgett

as Hay Bailer (uncredit...

as Merrit Foley

as Minister
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Critic Reviews for The Mudge Boy

All Critics (28) | Top Critics (17)

Condescending tone ... contrivance ... and cliché.

Full Review… | July 22, 2004
Dallas Morning News
Top Critic

Like a sturdy, well-observed short story, its narrative pieces put together with a plain elegance.

Full Review… | July 1, 2004
Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Top Critic

The Mudge Boy is odd and intense, very well acted, and impossible to dismiss.

Full Review… | June 25, 2004
Chicago Sun-Times
Top Critic

Because the camera so closely follows Duncan -- there's scarcely a scene he's off-frame; his awkwardness is bold and unapologetic -- he sticks close to our sympathies.

Full Review… | June 24, 2004
Chicago Tribune
Top Critic

A little picture -- the names of the entire cast would fit on half a sheet of paper -- but it's more heartfelt than movies with 50 times the budget.

Full Review… | June 4, 2004
San Francisco Chronicle
Top Critic

It's not an easy film to watch, but it is a memorable one.

Full Review… | May 13, 2004
Newark Star-Ledger
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for The Mudge Boy

A film quite unlike anything I've seen before, The Mudge Boy deserves a larger audience then it is ever likely to get, thanks to its peculiar title, cheap, 70s looking cover art and "funded by cable" credentials. But it's a stunning film. Duncan (Emile Hirsch) is a teenager trying to come to terms with the unexpected death of his mother. An outsider who doesn't have the self-awareness to express himself adequately and without any support in friends or his emotionally unavailable father, Duncan, who helps out on the farm he lives on, cycles the countryside with his favorite chicken and begins to form relationships with some of the people he meets. Psychologically rich and complex, realistic, beautifully photographed and stunningly performed (Emile Hirsch, Richard Jenkins and Tom Guiry are all superb), The Mudge Boy builds to a devastating conclusion that is truly shocking and difficult to watch; a brilliant depiction of teenage life, sexuality and grief in all its forms. Nominated for the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance, winner of the Grand Jury Award at L.A. Outfest.

Daniel Parsons

Super Reviewer


This was very disturbing, but I liked it. Emile Hirsch was great as always!

Sarah Prisbylla

Super Reviewer

In every generation, I suppose, there's one actor who stands so far above his peers that he becomes almost forgettable in his perfection. Emile Hirsch is that actor in our time. I want to compare him to James Dean, in one sense, but that's not entirely accurate and not fair to James Dean. Emile Hirsch is simply one of the finest actors of all time, any time.
I knew that this film was so close to something else I'd seen that I couldn't wait to jump on IMDB after I saw it to check, and I was right: In 1998, Michael Burke made a film called 'Fishbelly White', a 22 minute short film. 'The Mudge Boy' is the same story writ large, but each is a work of art in its own right. The single better thing about this film is Emile Hirsch. I mean in no way to discredit any other actor in 'Fishbelly White' nor in this film, and there are many good ones, as well as a fine director.
I know Duncan's story well because I grew up as the gay boy in the rural setting - minus the chickens, dead mother and singular weirdness...OK, maybe the weirdness stays, but you get the picture.
I understand Duncan's desire to fit in. I understand Duncan's crush on someone who would rather throw him under the bus to save himself than do the right thing, yet Perry clearly adores Duncan and he knows that Duncan worships him. And in the end, he comes to Duncan's rescue. Richard Jenkins did a fine job as Duncan's dad, dealing with the death of his alcoholic wife and trying in his own way to toughen Duncan enough to take care of himself. Ryan Donowho has come to be one of my other favorite actors, and I'm glad to see him in another film with Emile Hirsch. Despite playing Duncan's opposite number in this film, there was still the chemistry of two fine artists at work.
Watching this movie was a fine and pleasant discomfort, and I enjoyed it immensely.

Jim Chatman

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