Mental

  • Review Date: March 29, 2013
  • Rated: NR
  • Genre: Comedy
  • Release Year: 2013
  • Running Time: 116 minutes

Common Sense Media says

Unstable woman saves dysfunctional family in offbeat comedy.
  • Review Date: March 29, 2013
  • Rated: NR
  • Genre: Comedy
  • Release Year: 2013
  • Running Time: 116 minutes

Age(i)

2
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17

Quality(i)

 

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Absent father Barry realizes how much he's damaged his family by ignoring his five daughters and their long-suffering mother. And the mother finally discovers her own inner strength and is able to remake their home.

Positive role models

Shaz certainly has noble goals in trying to save a dysfunctional family, but it's hard to approve of her methods -- which include assault, trespassing, theft, and arson.

Violence

An unstable woman threatens and intimidates almost everyone around her, using a large knife and a dog with a convincing growl. She assaults two waitresses at a diner, steals some valuable dolls from another woman, sets a home on fire, and tries to attack her ex-husband. A man uses an electric cattle prod to stun a teenage boy; it's also used other times. Rape is mentioned. A gun is aimed at a character.

Sex

Two teens fool around after hours at the water park where they work, stripping and sliding down the water slide nude (breasts and a bottom are briefly glimpsed) and then kissing in the pool at the bottom. A teen boy tries to take off a girl's shirt, with his own shorts already partly down (part of his butt is seen). Characters are caught in an affair (no sensitive nudity seen). A teen girl shows her underwear several times.

Language

Frequent use of words including "s--t," "f--k," "c--t," and "bitch."

Consumerism
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

A man drinks beer with most of his meals at home, including breakfast. A woman uses a bong to smoke pot.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Mental is a dark comedy that focuses on a dysfunctional home with five daughters, an unstable mother, a father who's completely removed himself from the scene, and a kooky drifter/nanny who tries to fix both the family and herself. Several storylines feature mental illness, and it's not quite clear whether the nanny is completely sane. There's a good deal of profanity (including "f--k," "s--t," and more), and several moments when the main character uses violence or threats to make her point. One scene includes naked teens fooling around on a water slide (breasts and bottom are briefly glimpsed), and there are other scenes with suggestive material. A teen girl marries an older woman.

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What's the story?

With five demanding daughters, a husband who refuses to come home, and the hostile glares of disapproving neighbors, Shirley Moochmore (Rebecca Gibney) has reached the end of her rope, suffering a nervous breakdown in spectacularly musical fashion. After checking her into a MENTAL hospital, Barry Moochmore (Anthony LaPaglia) recruits kooky drifter Shaz (Toni Collette) as nanny to his kids, although it's not certain whether the new caretaker is totally sane in this dark Australian comedy

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

Movies with a bizarrely refreshing point of view are a joy to watch (see Muriel's Wedding, which was also directed by Mental helmer P.J. Hogan), especially when they pack a walloping mix of humor and pathos. In this regard, Mental is a joy. It's unbridled and intense -- and we don't just mean the cinematography.

But delightfully strange as it is, Mental is also very predictable. From the moment Shaz enters the scene, we know, pretty much, that in fixing the family she's suddenly part of, she will, in some way, fix what's broken with herself.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about what Mental is trying to say about who's labeled mentally ill vs. who's considered normal. Is Shaz insane or just willing to ignore social conventions?

  • Why is the Moochmore family so broken? Why does the father refuse to come home? How have his actions damaged his wife and daughters? Which of them, if any, are actually mentally ill?

  • Who do you think Mental is intended to appeal to? Does it succeed? Do you consider it a dark comedy, a drama, or a mix of both?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:March 29, 2013
DVD release date:June 4, 2013
Cast:Anthony LaPaglia, Liev Schreiber, Toni Collette
Director:P.J. Hogan
Studio:Dada Films
Genre:Comedy
Topics:Brothers and sisters
Run time:116 minutes
MPAA rating:NR

This review of Mental was written by

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About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Quality

Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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