Parents' Guide to

City of Men

By Cynthia Fuchs, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 17+

Powerful melodrama mixes violence, messages.

Movie R 2008 110 minutes
City of Men Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

Community Reviews

There aren't any parent reviews yet. Be the first to review this title.

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say: Not yet rated
Kids say: Not yet rated

City of Men is an affecting blend of action movie, coming-of-age tale, and family melodrama. It's billed as a companion piece to Fernando Meirelles and Katia Lund's brilliant, thrilling City of God, which was an art-house sensation when it came to the United States in 2002. The new film actually draws from characters developed in that film's inspiration, the mesmerizing, same-named Brazilian TV series -- which explains how City of Men is able to include scenes of Ace and Wallace as kids. These images show how their friendship has endured during years of bouncing around in impoverished neighborhoods where boys become men by wielding guns and claiming territory.

While Paulo Morelli's movie isn't as kinetic as City of God, it offers an equally fascinating look at kids' emotional lives and moral choices and their struggles to think beyond their apparent fates. Ace's anxieties about fathering are reflected in Wallace's reunion with his own dad; quickly enamored of the idea of having a father, Wallace imagines an existence apart from the gangs -- just as long-simmering tensions erupt into full-on street battles. The kids on the periphery, like Ace and Wallace, are trapped. Equipped with artillery and hand-drawn maps, the teams take over the alleys and rooftops as civilians hide. But for all its tragedy and brutality, City of Men is shaped by the uneven, difficult rhythms of fathers and sons and the boys' determination to connect across years of pain and legacies of revenge.

Movie Details

Did we miss something on diversity?

Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

See how we rate