• Review Date: October 31, 2006
  • Rated: R
  • Genre: Drama
  • Release Year: 2003

Common Sense Media says

Powerful film packed with profanity and brutality.
  • Review Date: October 31, 2006
  • Rated: R
  • Genre: Drama
  • Release Year: 2003





What parents need to know


Fights, including brutal attack.


Many sexual references, including rape, molestation.


Very strong language, innumerable F-words.

Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Drug use, references to drinking and other substance abuse.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this movie has non-stop four-letter words. There are sexual references, including child molestation and rape. There is some violence, including one brief graphic scene that is very brutal. The movie has very strong minority characters and strong bonds between characters of different races.

Parents say

Kids say

What's the story?

This documentary-style film about teenagers in a mental hospital focuses on one patient, Lyle (Joseph Gordon-Levitt). A court sentenced Lyle to the facility because he beat a fellow student with a baseball bat. At first, he is angry and uncooperative. But as he listens to a sympathetic Dr. Monroe (Don Cheadle) and observes the other patients, he begins to allow himself to be open to acknowledging their feelings and his own. Other teen patients include Chad (Michael Bacall ), a bi-polar kid who is Lyle's first friend, fragile Tracey (Zooey Deschanel), shy Kenny (Cody Lightning), and angry Michael (Elden Henson). Dr. Monroe must find a way to make all of them feel accepted for who they are while encouraging them to change.

Is it any good?


MANIC has enough sincerity to make up for whatever it lacks in professionalism or originality and is well worth watching with the teenagers in your life. The actors developed their characters through improvisation and cast and crew worked with psychologists and patients to ensure authenticity. The cast includes some former residents of juvenile mental facilities. The portrayals are all so natural and deeply felt that there are moments when it does not even feel like a documentary movie; it feels like we are watching something that is happening right now.

The digital video camera work feels amateurish at first until it becomes clear that it is intentional – there's a spareness and immediacy that works well with its subject. Shaky, off-center shots replicate the fragile reality of the characters. As the movie continues and Lyle is able to encompass a psychological and metaphorical larger picture, the camera pulls back to give us the bigger picture as well. The final shot, the first real long shot we see in the movie, is very moving.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about how they handle their angry impulses and what it is that gives their lives meaning. Does it help to have someone say "I'm sorry" even if it isn't the one responsible? Does it help to be the one who says "I'm sorry?"

Movie details

Theatrical release date:May 9, 2003
DVD release date:January 20, 2004
Cast:Don Cheadle, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Zooey Deschanel
Director:Jordan Melamed
Studio:IFC Entertainment
Run time:100 minutes
MPAA rating:R
MPAA explanation:disturbing violent content, strong language and some drug use

This review of Manic was written by

About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging, great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging, good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging, good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging, okay learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Teen, 14 years old Written bywhyhellomister144 February 23, 2010

Not for the light-hearted

Really, really good acting in an overall good film that you'll want to see again.....and then wonder why you ever even wanted to watch it in the first place. It is quite a disturbing piece of work and the camera is basically always shaky/unsteady, which may upset the weak stomachs. The theme itself is a bit disturbing too; teenagers placed in a mental hospital for their acts of violence/ lovely. Overall, a really good movie if you enjoy that type of film.

What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much swearing
Great messages
Adult Written byPoptartpm April 9, 2008
AGENot rated for age
Teen, 15 years old Written bycinnagurl February 6, 2013


really really good. JGL is the best.

What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much swearing


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