Citizen Duane

Movie review by
Renee Schonfeld, Common Sense Media
Citizen Duane Movie Poster Image
Lackluster teen election tale with extra drinking, swearing.
  • PG-13
  • 2010
  • 84 minutes

Parents say

age 10+
Based on 1 review

Kids say

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A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

Main message is to stand up and fight hard for what you believe in. Hero's father is shown to have given his life to fight against ignorance and corruption. Teacher tries to help student learn to "pick his battles," and "set sights higher."

Positive Role Models & Representations

Teen attempts to turn his negative impulse for petty revenge into a positive run for political office. High school teacher is portrayed as caring, intuitive, and helpful. A beloved uncle is shown to be a powerful support for Duane, despite his own messy and unhealthy personal life. Duane's father, who was thought to be crazy and eccentric, is proved to have given his life for a cause in which he believed.


Two brief schoolyard fights, wrestling, and some flailing punches. An angry woman slaps a reporter's face. Someone throws a shoe at the hero's head. Mentions of Duane's father's death.


Boy asks girl, "Can I still see you naked?" Teen stares at girl's breasts.


Typically teen swearing: several uses of "s--t," "bulls--t," "ass," "asshole," "damn," "Goddamn," "penis," and  "what the hell?"  One "f--k off." "Gay" and "retarded" used as slurs.


Pepsi, Tylenol, Pearle, Always, featured on grocery shelves.  Carter's Beer and Volvo also shown.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Student smokes marijuana cigarette. Featured character is portrayed as a bar owner with an alcohol (and gambling) problem. Teen is seen drinking beer to excess and getting drunk. Beer is consumed at a high school party. Teen smokes.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this teen political comedy uses expletives throughout: especially "s--t" and "ass" in numerous forms, as well as one use of "f--k off." Also, several characters consume beer and other alcoholic beverages, including teens and the lead's "favorite uncle" who is known to be a gambling alcoholic. The character Hero has a fierce temper and tries out several methods of revenge, with little success, including fighting and building an elaborately comical but ineffectual "weapon." All of the action is played for comic effect and no one is seriously hurt or injured. Sexual content is pretty mild -- a  boy asks a girl if he can see her naked.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of a 3 and 15-year-old Written byhotmamakiss March 26, 2011

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What's the story?

Duane Balfour (Douglas Smith) hates being a loser and object of ridicule at school, but he continually screws up. After he loses an election to the class bully, Duane contemplates all kinds of vengeance, but nothing works. He loses his girlfriend, gets suspended over and over again, and feels friendless and alone. When his teacher (Vivica A. Fox) counsels him to set his sights higher and use his creative energy in a more positive way, he resolves to run for mayor of his small town and fight against the materialism and corruption of the town's first family, headed by the bully's grandmother. Having to live down the memory of his father's eccentric past and violent death complicates Duane's quest.

Is it any good?

Just about every aspect of this movie is amateurish and derivative. With the exception of performances by Donal Logue as Uncle Bingo and Alberta Watson as Duane's mother, the characterizations are shallow and inauthentic. Though the filmmakers obviously wanted to follow CITIZEN DUANE as he learned to channel his self-destructive intellect and passion onto a more positive and life-affirming path, he never seems to stand for anything specific or show any talent for problem-solving or as an instrument of change. Emotions go unexplored; grief is barely acknowledged; and most relationships have no solidity or heart.  Worst of all, it's simply not funny and never truly engaging.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how, in the movie's opening, Duane is affected by the activity of an ant. How did watching the ant motivate him and give him purpose? How did the presence of insects during the opening credits connect to the final resolution of the movie?

  • How did your feelings about Duane's father change over the course of the movie? Do you think the way the facts about Cecil Balfour are revealed little by little made the story more compelling or confusing?

  • How were the school elections in this film different from the elections in your school? What are some of the issues that you think are important to kids when they're voting for representation?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love politics

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