Parents' Guide to

Manodrome

By Jeffrey M. Anderson, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 16+

Dark, violent exploration of toxic masculinity and cults.

Movie R 2023 96 minutes
Manodrome Movie Poster: Ralphie (Jesse Eisenberg) is shown in close-up, wearing a serious, off-putting expression

A Lot or a Little?

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

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Is It Any Good?

Our review:
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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.

Movie Details

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