Frank

  • Review Date: August 15, 2014
  • Rated: R
  • Genre: Drama
  • Release Year: 2014
  • Running Time: 95 minutes

Common Sense Media says

Quirky dramedy has strong language, suicide attempts.
  • Review Date: August 15, 2014
  • Rated: R
  • Genre: Drama
  • Release Year: 2014
  • Running Time: 95 minutes

Age(i)

2
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9
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17

Quality(i)

 

What parents need to know

Positive messages

One message could be not to judge a book by its cover. Jon assumes that Frank is a genius and spends too much time trying to be like Frank -- or like others -- than trying to be himself, but in the end he realizes that it's more important to help Frank than to worry about his own troubles. There's also the question of whether an artist should stay true to his vision or try to make something closer to what the people want. The main character uses social media to try to gain the band more exposure/fame.

Positive role models

Frank may seem like a fascinating character, but he's not a role model. He's a highly troubled soul who hides and pretends to be something he's not. Jon gets easily taken in by him, and though he eventually tries to help make things right, his choices throughout the movie aren't particularly wise.

Violence

A character commits suicide by hanging himself from a tree. He's given a funeral pyre, and his ashes are collected for scattering. A character stabs another in the stomach, with very little blood shown. (More blood is actually shown when a character cuts himself shaving.) There's another suicide attempt (a character walking into the ocean) that fails. Characters practice self-defense moves that, in one quick scene, grow out of hand. A character is hit by a car. Characters frequently argue and insult one another.

Sex

Two characters have rough, sudden sex in a hot tub; the male character stands up naked, but he's shown from behind and out of focus. There's also some sexual discussion and innuendo: One of the characters is said to have a condition wherein he sleeps with mannequins.

Language

Language is very strong throughout. Words include "f--k," "s--t," and "bulls---," as well as the occasional use of "c--t."

Consumerism

The main character documents his adventures on social media. He sends lots of tweets, which are printed on the screen along with Twitter's logo. (He also includes hashtags.) Tumblr and YouTube are also mentioned and shown. The idea is that, with tons of followers and subscribers, one can be rich and famous. Events also take place at the real-life South by Southwest festival.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Characters smoke cigarettes fairly frequently. Characters drink beers in one scene as a celebration.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Frank is a quirky dramedy about a "genius" rock musician who wears a fake head and the ordinary keyboard player who becomes involved with him. Language is the biggest issue, with characters using "f--k" throughout, as well as "s--t" and "c--t." Two characters have rough sex in a hot tub, though no sensitive body parts are shown, and there's some additional sexual innuendo. Characters attempt suicide (one succeeds), a character is stabbed (very little blood is shown), and there's general arguing and shouting. Characters also smoke lots of cigarettes. The main character documents his adventure through social media; Twitter is mentioned frequently, and the Twitter logo is displayed, and there are mentions of Tumblr and YouTube.

Parents say

Kids say

What's the story?

Jon (Domhnall Gleeson) wants to be a songwriter but doesn't seem to have much luck. One day he witnesses an attempted suicide by a keyboard player in a visiting band. The band needs a new one, and Jon gets the job. Onstage, he meets the mysterious, charismatic Frank (Michael Fassbender), a musical genius who always wears a weird, papier-mâché head. Soon, Jon finds himself a permanent member of the group, recording an album for months and months in the woods and eventually putting up his own money to help finish it. Tensions rise, especially between Jon and Theremin player Clara (Maggie Gyllenhaal), and eventually things come to a breaking point at the South by Southwest festival.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

Lenny Abrahamson's FRANK starts off with a strong idea, the image of the man in the fake head. This basic but powerful image toys with several great themes, including the nature of identity, the nature of physical appearance, and even the idea of art versus commerce. But though Frank touches the surface of these ideas -- and it's certainly entertaining enough -- it seems more content to squeeze into the framework of a familiar kind of quirky art-house comedy-drama.

The movie comes a little too close to the typical "passive observer" formula in which the main character dilutes the story's power by viewing everything from a distance; he also has a kind of naïveté that prevents the movie from digging deeper. The filmmakers are happier making jokes about how strange things are to the newbie. Remarkably though, Fassbender gives a captivating performance even without the use of his face or eyes.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about Frank's central image: the fake head. What feelings or ideas come up around this head/character? Do you know anyone who ever pretended to be someone else? What were their reasons? How did it turn out?

  • What's the movie's take on social media? Is it ultimately helpful or harmful? Does the way it's used here seem realistic?

  • Why do you think the characters smoke so much? How does that make them appear? What are other examples of a "rock 'n' roll" lifestyle?

  • What does Frank's music sound like? Is it reasonable to ask him to make it more likable?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:August 15, 2014
DVD release date:December 9, 2014
Cast:Michael Fassbender, Domhnall Gleeson, Maggie Gyllenhaal
Director:Lenny Abrahamson
Studio:Magnolia Pictures
Genre:Drama
Run time:95 minutes
MPAA rating:R
MPAA explanation:language and some sexual content

This review of Frank 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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Quality

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; OK 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, 17 years old Written byB-KMastah September 19, 2014
AGE
14
QUALITY
 

It's hard to be really weird but respectful, but this movie pulls it off.

This movie is weird. It's endearing, but it's very weird. Not Kubrick-weird or artsy, but endearing in its originality that stems from its weirdness. When you have a movie about a guy that wears a fake head at all times, it's easy for the movie to be cynical towards its characters, but it's respectful instead. There are funny jabs at bruting musicians and social media, but it's lighthearted. The movie knows what tone to carry when - especially given the rather dark places that this movie goes to - but its tonal shifts are too extreme and quick to make without coming off as a bit jarring. The actors are all terrific: Fassbender balances subtly with weirdness, Gyllanhaal is deadpan and funny, and Gleeson does well with having to be a character existing to make the film accessible to audiences. It's between the kindness of its characters and the acting that makes the film really interesting when it comes to characterization. However, I wish that certain character arcs were elaborated on, as they seemed to be based more off of ideas than fully executed ideas, at least from a writing standpoint. On another note (no pun intended), the music is good. It's horrible when it wants to be stupid, but us actually very good otherwise. I'd be open to buying the soundtrack. This will probably grow on me with time, but I still really liked it. I appreciate thing that are different, and this movie definitely is. 8.3/10, very good, one thumb up, above average, etc.
What other families should know
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Parent of a 10 year old Written byNcarb January 2, 2015
AGE
16
QUALITY
 

twisted, clever and funny!

this film tells the story of a wannabe, who falls in with a group of painfully talented alternative musicians. In his attempts to steal some of their startdust, he manages to break up the band and almost kills Frank. The message being that stars are born, and not everyone has a Voice.... you can't be a rock star just because you want it badly. there's also some examination of the myth of madness and creative genius going hand in hand. there is an achingly funny sex scene where the woman is definitely in the driving seat; but it's the drug use and suicide which plant it firmly as a prospect for older teens only. worth noting that the film offers useful talking points if you want to broach mental illness, mental illness and suicide, drug use with savvy older teens. and it is a really fun watch for adults. especially for anyone who's ever had quiet dreams of a music career and hankered after a week in SXSW. look out for the superb chameleon of a star - Scoot Mcnairy (also in Argo; Monsters; Killing Them Softly) as one of the band; the utterly vicious, beautiful and funny Maggie Gyllenhaal, and the genius Michael Fassbender as Frank (with a large papier mache head on).
What other families should know
Too much sex
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Teen, 15 years old Written byAwesome Geekboy January 18, 2015
AGE
14
QUALITY
 

A dark comedy that is extremely dark.

It is a great movie that isn't that bad other than language and some sexual content. It is very sad, touching, and dark. It deals with a lot of suicide and mental insanity. But watch it if you like dark comedies.

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