Freaks - You're One of Us

Movie review by
Barbara Shulgasser-Parker, Common Sense Media
Freaks - You're One of Us Movie Poster Image
Uneven underdog superhero tale has violence and language.
  • NR
  • 2020
  • 92 minutes

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A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

We all have the "superpower" to stand up to oppression and prejudice, but most of us don't use ours. The movie uses a metaphor to suggest that we're more powerful than we think we are.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Wendy learns to restrain her strength and curtail some of her anger so she doesn't hurt anyone. Elmar has powers but also major psychological problems that make him a genuine menace.

Violence

People are shot and electrocuted. The police swarm and arrest people. A woman is punched in the face. A child uses superhuman strength to throw a large desk through a building's wall. Men make threatening catcalls at a lone woman walking at night and refers to her "juicy ass." A man tries to rape a woman, but she punches him and sends him flying. Kids steal a young boy's shoes and bully him. The next time he's bullied his superstrong mom bends their bicycles into a pile of twisted tubes. A man throws himself off an overpass, gets hit by a truck, and survives unscathed. A woman punches a hole in an ATM and steals cash from it.

Sex

The sound of a bed rocking is heard as two people have sex offscreen. Men make threatening catcalls at a lone woman walking at night and refers to her "juicy ass."  A young man appears to be masturbating under his covers to a comic book.

Language

"F--k," "s--t," "ass," "piss," "hell," "damn," "bitch," "bastard," "jerk off," "retard," and "crap."

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

People with special powers are prescribed "medications" that control their powers and their ability to use them. A man gets drunk when he thinks his wife is cheating on him.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Freaks – You're One of Us is a 2020 German film (with English subtitles) that proposes that many of us are "different" but that the world suppresses differences because society can't handle those who don't conform. It's not an unusual premise -- think of all the teen dystopia movies about fitting in -- but this one uses people with "superpowers" to illustrate the notion. These people with superpowers are the outliers and a system of prison-like clinics are the method used by society to fight nonconformity. Guns, sedation, and policing are all used to suppress people who don't conform. A man is shot dead. A woman is punched in the nose. A man using his powers electrocutes several people. A child pushes a desk through a wall. Bullying. Language includes "f--k," "s--t," "bitch," "bastard," and "damn." The sound of a bed rocking is heard as two people have sex offscreen. Men make threatening catcalls at a lone woman walking at night and refers to her "juicy ass." A young man appears to be masturbating under his covers to a comic book. A man gets drunk when he thinks his wife is cheating on him.

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What's the story?

As a young girl, Wendy (Cornelia Groschel) caused some unusual trouble at school, angrily throwing a large desk through a building wall. She's the primary "freak" in FREAKS – YOU'RE ONE OF US, but she's long been unaware of her unusual abilities because since that incident, her power and anger have been controlled by medication and "therapy." Now an adult, she's a fry cook at Chop Heaven with an abusive boss and a low salary, living with her husband and their young son, trying to pay the bills. One day, Marek (Wotan Wilke Mohring), a disheveled man, approaches her on the street and explains that she's "one of us," part of a group of people with secret superpowers being suppressed by authorities. The revelation changes her life. Her awkward young coworker Elmar (Tim Oliver Schultz) is also on the meds, suppressing his power to generate electricity at will. While Marek wants to hide from the authorities and Wendy wants to assert her powers to help herself and others, Elmar is a disturbed, vengeful opportunist who runs around in a superhero costume. He doesn't hesitate to shock people, even lethally, if they get in his way. The violent damage he leaves in his path alerts the authorities and puts Marek and Wendy in danger. When the trio tries to release other "freaks" still imprisoned by a conformist system, they cause more problems than they solve.

Is it any good?

This movie begins like it's promising a comedy, but it takes a dark turn that leaves comedy and good sense behind. The uneven tone is both confusing and disappointing. Freaks – You're One of Us tries, using a metaphor of superpowers, to raise the issue of accepting difference and how society fails to deal with it well. The movie isn't explicit, but the metaphor suggests that society should show more tolerance and acceptance of all races, religions, nationalities, cultures, political views, and physical abilities. Freaks promotes the message that rising up against oppression is something all of us have the superpower to do. That takeaway keeps this from being a waste of time.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about when we view differences in other people as "good" and when we view them as "bad."  Do you think that different points of view strengthen or weaken a free society? Why?

  • Why do you think the authorities in Freaks – You're One of Us seek to lock up the "freaks" with special powers? Why are people so afraid of those who are different?

  • How might a free society harness special powers and abilities to improve the world?

Movie details

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