Parents' Guide to


By Nell Minow, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 17+

Powerful film packed with profanity and brutality.

Movie R 2003 100 minutes
Manic Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

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

Community Reviews

age 18+

Based on 1 parent review

age 18+

A well made budget level film about the real struggles of living with mental illness.

First of all this film is suited for mature viewers due to the prevalence of frequent coarse profanity and references to obscene subject material and a few short scenes with intense violence. the film takes place in a medium security psychiatric hospital and mostly centers around Lyle a young man who has been forcibly admitted there after murdering another player at a baseball game with a baseball bat. The incident is not shown in the beginning of the film in detail except for the sounds of the violent act which is an excellent way to simulate the mind of the mentally ill. Because most mentally ill persons can only grasp the severity of their actions so much if at all once they have committed them. The full assualt scene is however revealed later on in the film and is graphic when it occurs. The lead psychologist character is very likeable and does his best for the others and gives sound advice and shows a very caring side. I like it when he tells Lyle that he cannot run away from himself or his problems and his anger which he will probably carry around in himself until the day he dies. and I like how Lyle redeems himself in the end of the film and makes the right choice. I must point out that the murder scene of the guard character Charlie when his throat is slashed by Chad is fairly disturbing. If you study the situation however you will notice Charlie handled the situation very poorly and in many ways left himself and others open to much greater danger in several ways. In real life a possible de-escalation technique might have been for the psychologist to warn Chad that if the act was followed through on that he would never get out. many individuals in many psychiatric care systems these days do get released too early on and can easily become more of a hazard to themselves and others than before. the film is made somewhat on the cheap side,  but the acting is well done and screenplay is well executed throughout. this is a film which I think holds it's own well for a story about troubled young adults living with mental illnesses and each trying to find their own way to cope with overwhelming fears and hardships. I totally recommend this film,  but please do beware of the brief disturbing elements that I mentioned.

This title has:

Great messages
Great role models
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (1):
Kids say (2):

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.

Movie Details

Inclusion information powered by

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