A Glimpse Inside the Mind of Charles Swan III

Movie review by
Sandie Angulo Chen, Common Sense Media
A Glimpse Inside the Mind of Charles Swan III Movie Poster Image
Sheen's '70s-set comedy is a jumbled, sex-filled mess.
  • R
  • 2013
  • 86 minutes

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Charles' life seems like a cautionary tale for young men, so the positive spin would be that being a materialistic, selfish womanizer doesn't lead to a fulfilling life.

Positive Role Models & Representations

This isn't a film with any positive role models, but at least Charles' sister seems attentive enough to visit him in the hospital. Despite his many flaws, Charles has a good friend in Kirby.


Charles ends up in the hospital, is nearly blown up by a group of imaginary angry women warriors, drinks and drives, and crashes into a pool and injures himself. A beloved pet parrot dies.


The majority of Charles' mind is revealed to be made up of sex: half-naked women (breasts are shown), memories of sexual experiences, etc. Charles keeps a drawer full of lurid photos of previous girlfriends/conquests. Charles and his girlfriend are shown in a tub together (breasts visible), and there are several glimpses of sex (either the sounds of or brief scenes of the act). Women are dressed in sexy, revealing outfits in some of Charles' reveries.


Frequent use of strong language, including "f--k," "s--t," "a--hole," "bitch," "bulls--t," "ass," "damn," "c--k," and more.


Charles drives a Cadillac.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Charles drinks heavily, pops pills, smoke dope, and goes to drug-fueled parties.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that A Glimpse Inside the Mind of Charles Swan III is a trippy, '70s-set comedy that takes place mostly in the mind of a narcissistic womanizer (played by none other than Charlie Sheen). As you might expect from a movie starring Sheen, there's a great deal of substance abuse (drinking, pill popping, etc.), casual sex, objectification of women (partial nudity included), and strong language (many uses of "f--k," "s--t," "bitch," and more).

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What's the story?

Rich, successful graphic artist Charles Swan III (Charlie Sheen) is a known womanizer, but he's genuinely upset when his latest love interest, Ivana (Katheryn Winnick), dumps him. The reason? She finds Charles' not-so-secret stash of his exes' nudie pics. The break-up undoes Charles; as his life falls apart, viewers are treated to a high-concept, loopy look at his fantasies, memories, and fears.

Is it any good?

Sheen playing basically a version of himself (the women, the booze, the drugs, the money) sounds good on paper, but in actuality it's predictable and boring. Roman Coppola is as well connected as a director can get: His father is Oscar winner Francis Ford Coppola, his sister is Sofia Coppola, his cousins are Nicolas Cage and Jason Schwartzman (who appears as Charles' singer-songwriter best friend), and his good friend and collaborator is director Wes Anderson. While Roman deserves credit for co-writing Moonrise Kingdom and assisting his sister on her projects, he's a self-indulgent director whose movie is little more than a stylized vanity project.

There are a few amusing visuals in the movie (like when feminist warriors aim their weapons at Charles for using one too many awful pick-up lines), but even the presence of Bill Murray, who pops up as Charles' put-upon business manager, does nothing to save this ridiculous exploration of a pathetic man's immaturity.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the way that sexual relationships are depicted in A Glimpse Inside the Mind of Charles Swan III. Is Charles' history with women positive? Parents, talk to your teens about your own values regarding sex and relationships.

  • Do you think the movie would have been better or worse with a different actor playing the main character? Is it funny to see Sheen play someone with personality traits that have been associated with him?

  • How does the movie portray the 1970s? How would you compare the depiction of the decade with other movies set in that time period?

  • Charles Swann is also the name of the titular character in Marcel Proust's Swann's Way. Are you familiar with the book? If you are, what are the similarities between Charles Swann III and Proust's Swann?

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