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Movie review by
Nell Minow, Common Sense Media
Manic Movie Poster Image
Powerful film packed with profanity and brutality.
  • R
  • 2003
  • 100 minutes

Parents say

age 15+
Based on 1 review

Kids say

age 15+
Based on 2 reviews

A lot or a little?

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


Fights, including brutal attack.


Many sexual references, including rape, molestation.


Very strong language, innumerable F-words.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Drug use, references to drinking and other substance abuse.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this movie has non-stop four-letter words. There are sexual references, including child molestation and rape. There is some violence, including one brief graphic scene that is very brutal. The movie has very strong minority characters and strong bonds between characters of different races.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byPoptartpm April 9, 2008
Teen, 14 years old Written bywhyhellomister144 February 23, 2010

Not for the light-hearted

Really, really good acting in an overall good film that you'll want to see again.....and then wonder why you ever even wanted to watch it in the first plac... Continue reading
Teen, 15 years old Written bycinnagurl February 6, 2013


really really good. JGL is the best.

What's the story?

This documentary-style film about teenagers in a mental hospital focuses on one patient, Lyle (Joseph Gordon-Levitt). A court sentenced Lyle to the facility because he beat a fellow student with a baseball bat. At first, he is angry and uncooperative. But as he listens to a sympathetic Dr. Monroe (Don Cheadle) and observes the other patients, he begins to allow himself to be open to acknowledging their feelings and his own. Other teen patients include Chad (Michael Bacall ), a bi-polar kid who is Lyle's first friend, fragile Tracey (Zooey Deschanel), shy Kenny (Cody Lightning), and angry Michael (Elden Henson). Dr. Monroe must find a way to make all of them feel accepted for who they are while encouraging them to change.

Is it any good?

MANIC has enough sincerity to make up for whatever it lacks in professionalism or originality and is well worth watching with the teenagers in your life. The actors developed their characters through improvisation and cast and crew worked with psychologists and patients to ensure authenticity. The cast includes some former residents of juvenile mental facilities. The portrayals are all so natural and deeply felt that there are moments when it does not even feel like a documentary movie; it feels like we are watching something that is happening right now.

The digital video camera work feels amateurish at first until it becomes clear that it is intentional – there's a spareness and immediacy that works well with its subject. Shaky, off-center shots replicate the fragile reality of the characters. As the movie continues and Lyle is able to encompass a psychological and metaphorical larger picture, the camera pulls back to give us the bigger picture as well. The final shot, the first real long shot we see in the movie, is very moving.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how they handle their angry impulses and what it is that gives their lives meaning. Does it help to have someone say "I'm sorry" even if it isn't the one responsible? Does it help to be the one who says "I'm sorry?"

Movie details

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