A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Untreated trauma and mental health issues can lead to negative outcomes. Those who are hurt and the weak can easily be seduced by brainwashing schemes and power grabs.
Positive Role Models
Ralphie is suffering, keeping his rage and hurt inside, and it turns violent. Dan, however well-meaning he may seem, is a cult leader who's out to grab power and induct more brainwashed members into his fold. Sal abandons her baby.
The movie's focus is on White men. Sal is just about the only woman in the cast, and she's defined in terms of her relationship with Ralphie. She's shown to be somewhat supportive of him, but only up to a point. (Conversely, he doesn't seem to support her much at all.) Sierra Leonean / American actor Sallieu Sesay plays a key part, but it's one that reduces him to his physical attributes; he's mostly just an object. A couple of other Black faces can be seen in smaller or background parts. A mixed-race gay couple is seen in a store.
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Violence & Scariness
Gun, shooting. Characters shot and killed. Blood spurts. Character starts fight in the gym. Intense cult rituals. Screaming, fighting, punching, beating up several characters. A street-corner Santa is whacked with a bat. Character mistreats his girlfriend, punching a wall near her head and locking her in a room. Character branded on arm. Character drives recklessly and fast, frightening and endangering passengers. Characters in violent mosh pit. Cars smash into other cars. Character rages at self. Misogynist dialogue. Dialogue about cancer. A man leers at a woman who's breastfeeding; she feels threatened and leaves.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Couple has anal sex up against a wall (no nudity). Brief sex scene shows a woman on top of a man, with no nudity (the couple stops before finishing). Several naked men in gym locker room; naked bottoms, some full-frontal nudity. A street-corner Santa Claus flashes his penis. Kissing. A shirtless man poses and takes selfies. Dialogue about romantic partners cheating. A woman breastfeeds; breast visible.
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Very strong language includes uses of "f--k," "motherf----r," "s--t," "c--t," "a--hole," "bitch," "pissing," "ass," "oh my God," "Jesus," "damn," "psycho."
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Main character buys Percocet from a drug dealer, occasionally pops pills. Drinks at restaurant. Cigarette smoking.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Manodrome is a harsh drama/thriller about a struggling father-to-be (Jesse Eisenberg) who joins a men's cult and finds his inner self unlocked -- along with unchecked violence. That includes guns and shooting, blood spurts, lots of fighting and punching, a character being whacked with a bat, a woman getting handled roughly and locked in a room, reckless driving, raging, screaming, threat, and more. Characters have anal sex up against a wall, and an interrupted sex scene shows a woman atop a man. Several naked men are seen (bare bottoms and some full-frontal), and characters kiss. Strong language includes uses of "f--k," "motherf----r," "s--t," "c--t," "a--hole," "bitch," and more. The main character buys and takes Percocet, and people drink socially and smoke cigarettes. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
An ambitious, unpleasant, and ultimately unsuccessful examination of toxic masculinity and cult mentality, this dark drama gets by for a long while on Eisenberg's aching, physical performance. John Trengove's Manodrome is brave enough to tackle some of today's more pressing -- and generally unexplored -- issues. Casting Eisenberg against his usual type (brainy and nerdy) is a canny choice, as is giving him the childlike name of "Ralphie." We see him struggling with his masculinity (taking selfies at the gym, more to convince himself of something than to show off), his sexuality (he can't stop staring at the chiseled bodies in the locker room, and, in a rage over his own conflicted longings, even picks a fight with one alpha type), and his father issues, easily falling under Dan's spell (he insists on being called "Dad Dan").
But in its explorations, the movie dives into its rabbit hole without having a plan for getting back out. Ralphie's journey is an implosion, rather than a dissection. We see his ugliest impulses but very little of how they came about -- or any healthy ways of moving through them. Likewise, the lure of the cult is short-changed in an attempt to make it visual, i.e. Dan putting up his group of lost men in a giant production-designed mansion, rather than a squirrelly corner of the Dark Web, where these things are more likely to occur. In other words, Manodrome goes deep without going wide; it's an emotional journey that leaves the intellect wanting.
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.