A couple of hardscrabble, Arkansas, teenage boys, Ellis (Tye Sheridan) and Neckbone (Jacob Lofland), find a boat lodged high up in a tree on a small island. The boat needs some work, but the boys believe if they can get it down and repair it, they will have a boat of their own. On the day they decide to work on getting the boat down, they find fresh footprints in and around the boat. They soon realize that someone has been living in their boat, like a tree house. They start searching around for the person and soon run into Mud (Matthew McConaughey), a dirty, superstitious man obviously hiding out from something or someone.
Ellis has an immediate connection with Mud and believes him when Mud tells him about the woman he loves, Juniper (Reese Witherspoon), and how he had to kill a man in order to save her. Now that man’s family, a powerful and ruthless Texas clan, and their hired bounty hunters are after Mud. Mud explains that they don’t want to put him in prison, they want him dead. Ellis agrees to help Mud fix up the boat and escape with Juniper. Of course, it doesn’t work out that smoothly.
This was a decent movie, weak in a few areas, but a good story overall. McConaughey is very likeable as the quirky Mud and Witherspoon is very convincing as the troubled girlfriend.