Anomalisa

Movie review by
Jeffrey M. Anderson, Common Sense Media
Anomalisa Movie Poster Image
Existential, pessimistic animated movie is not for kids.
  • R
  • 2015
  • 90 minutes
Popular with kids

Parents say

age 16+
Based on 4 reviews

Kids say

age 17+
Based on 11 reviews

A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

The movie is mainly about pondering existence and searching for love and meaning -- but never finding any easy answers. Depicts regular life, including eating, urinating, showering, sex, etc.

Positive Role Models & Representations

The characters don't do anything admirable, except searching for some kind of meaning in their lives. The main character has extramarital sex.

Violence

Mildly creepy nightmare-like sequences. Angry ranting.

Sex

Full-frontal animated nudity, both male and female. Graphic sex scene includes kissing, undressing, and the man performing oral sex on the woman (the sex is extramarital for him). A scene inside an adult shop shows sex toys and an antique Japanese mechanized doll with an exposed breast. Brief shot of a man masturbating while looking at a computer screen.

Language

Several uses of "f--k" and "s--t," plus "a--hole," "bitch," "balls," "d--k," "goddamn," "damn," "idiot," and uses of "Jesus" and "God" (as exclamations).

Consumerism

Mention of a Starbucks Frappuccino.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Main character smokes cigarettes and has several alcoholic drinks (with vodka); he gets a little drunk, with no repercussions. Two other characters also drink in a bar, getting a little drunk.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Anomalisa is a stop-motion animated movie that's decidedly not for kids. It has a very graphic sex scene, with kissing, full-frontal nudity (male and female), oral sex, and more. There's also a scene set inside an adult shop in which various sex toys are shown, as well as additional sexual references and images. Language is likewise strong, with many uses of "f--k," "s--t," and more. Characters drink cocktails and get happily drunk (no repercussions), and the main character smokes cigarettes. There are some slightly spooky nightmare-like sequences and some angry ranting. It's written and co-directed by Charlie Kaufman, so fans of Being John Malkovich or Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind might be interested, but this one is a good deal darker and less hopeful. It's really for mature audiences only.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written bythegermaniclanguageb January 18, 2018
Adult Written byBestPicture1996 August 2, 2016

Adult animated tale is certainly an anomaly

This is no surprise that the mind of Charlie Kaufman sprouted such a unique idea as a middle-aged puppet going through a crisis. It's...weird, and it doesn... Continue reading
Teen, 14 years old Written byrebo344 December 31, 2015

The best animated film of 2015/2016.

Anomalisa is pure brilliance. Charlie Kaufman and Duke Johnson crafted an emotional, funny yet sweet movie. David Thelwis did a good job playing the voice of Mi... Continue reading
Teen, 16 years old Written byAndrew2011 February 17, 2016

Arguably the finest film of 2015

Michael Stone, the main character of ANOMALISA, hears the voices of various people who sound the same – before meeting the anomalous Lisa, whose voice is differ... Continue reading

What's the story?

Michael Stone (voiced by David Thewlis), who published a successful book about customer service, has traveled to Cincinnati to speak at a convention. Checking into the Fragoli Hotel, he begins to feel that life is meaningless, especially given that all the people around him (all voiced by Tom Noonan) sound the same. As Michael prepares for an evening of mediocrity, he hears an unusual voice in the hallway; it belongs to Lisa (Jennifer Jason Leigh). Despite Lisa's own shyness and inadequacy, Michael is drawn to her and wants to run away with her. But before anything can happen, Michael's life takes an even more absurd and bizarre turn.

Is it any good?

Celebrated screenwriter Charlie Kaufman has fashioned this existential crisis as a dark, bizarre stop-motion animated movie, and while it's extraordinary in many ways, it's clearly not for kids. ANOMALISA began its life as a kind of radio play; then Kaufman enlisted animator Duke Johnson as a co-director, and they came up with an amazingly detailed, mundane, grimly comic world in which the puppets' seams are allowed to show. (This isn't a movie about smoothness.)

Fans of Kaufman's earlier, imaginative work -- like Being John Malkovich and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind -- will find Anomalisa a more dispiriting affair, with special attention paid to the imperfections of the human body and our sometimes-clumsy relationships with food, drink, and sex, not to mention longing for love and sense of purpose. The film pays special attention to sound -- not only spoken voices, but also music (Lisa sings a song that can break the heart). It's perhaps more hopeless than hopeful, but it's a deep, thoughtful experience.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about Anomalisa's graphic sex content. What role does it play in the story? Does the impact change at all because the movie is animated? How much sexual content in movies is OK for kids?

  • Why do we consider "animation" a genre better suited to kids'/family movies? Why is it so unusual to see an animated movie geared toward adults?

  • When the characters drink and smoke in the movie, how does it come across? Is it glamorized?

  • What does "existential" mean? What are the characters looking for? What do they find? Is it OK if they don't find anything?

  • Why does it take so much courage simply to be yourself, as Lisa says?

Movie details

For kids who love offbeat movies

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