One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest

Movie review by Carly Kocurek, Common Sense Media
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest Poster Image

Common Sense says

age 16+

Classic and brilliant, but violence makes it teens only.

R 1975 128 minutes

Parents say

age 14+

Based on 27 reviews

Kids say

age 13+

Based on 45 reviews

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Community Reviews

age 17+

McMurphy is not a hero. He’s a criminal who belongs in jail.

I used to say Cuckoos Nest was Milos Foreman’s only good film. I’ve realize even it’s not terribly good. Yes, it demonizes psychiatry and mental illness. The story is skewed by the fact that the book’s author worked in an abnormal mental institution where the CIA was doing LSD experiments. Cuckoo also majorly suffers from having a “boys will be boys” message where Nicholson’s crimes, which include rape and assault, are not just glossed over but seen as no good reason for incarcerating him. Nicholson’s description of a 15 year old’s “red beaver” is, frankly, mentally scaring. Almost all the men in the institution vocally hate their wives. Nurse Ratched is portrayed as an evil battle axe who saps the souls of poor, put-upon men with her words. The violence done to her is unconscionable. All in all a really regressive film that set back mental health policy and skewered professional women at the height of second wave feminism. It’s, honestly, pathetic.
age 18+

The #1 film that gives psychiatry a bad name

This film is mostly a dark comedy set in very bad circumstances,  Quentin Tarantino should have wrote the film as it is styled very much like a Tarantino film. Jack Nickolsons's character Mcmurphy is the one who gets the party started (literally) and keeps the laughs going. And how can we forget about the most hated villian of her day, nurse Ratched. I have to slightly disagree with the attacks and accusations against Nurse Ratched because actually she is not that evil and if one fully understood the highly volatile situation she is in and knew what she has to deal with day in and day out and if one studied psychiatric care then they would understand that she is rightfully both cautious and also strong for her role in the hospital. she is not trying to be a stuck up ugly old B---- despite the film's best attempt to portray her as such. this was also back when psychiatric care and knowledge of mental health was far more limited than now. mental health and hospitals have come a long way since then and many were far better than this one and much better managed. there are so many lies swirling about doctors and psychiatry because of films like this one. I must attempt to dispel the fiction from facts here. 1. The patients in this film appear unintelligent and rather silly and unable to think for themselves and retarded. FACT.  many individuals in insane asylums are very capable and calculating individuals and are capable of thinking for themselves in various and often criminal ways.   If the film was an accurate depiction then more of them should have been like Mcmurphy and not like mentally retarded individuals. 2. Doctors coldly and blindly force cruel treatments and don't care about the patient's feelings. FACT.  the scene involving the dreaded Electro Convulsive Therapy may be accurate in some ways,  but is mostly meant to look gruesome. many once very common ECT treatments used to be administered without anesthetic and other medications and were believed to be extremely painful. This happened at lower cost and poorly managed asylums and care facilities. But from an outside viewpoint and with no understanding anything can look far more gruesome than it actually is or ever was. but ECT therapy in a medical practice was never intended to nor will be used to torture a patient into submission. And lobotomy is not practiced anymore as well. 3. As Nurse Ratched mentions most psychiatric hospital patients are voluntary admittance. FACT.  More than half the population of hospital patients are voluntarily admitted,  but this can occur in many ways. many with mental illnesses do not even assume they are mentally ill and so they will not knowingly go to the hospital,   but can be admitted through family members which will often still be documented as Voluntary admittance. if a patient signs their name on any single paper in the regular hospital and they are transferred to a psychiatric hospital then it counts as voluntary admittance because they let a doctor take their care into his or her hands. voluntary admittance can also arise from a situation when the patient is unable to give a definite answer and is incompetent and unable to make decisions or has a lack of awareness of the situation. most of these situations usually result in an involuntary admission,  but at the same time if the patient is also unable to decline treatment then he or she may be considered to be voluntarily submitting him/herself to the best of his/her ability. the film also has some unrealstic elements that do not fit with the asylum setting at all and it was probably not studied that much before it's production. so in the end all you have is a film that is a dark comedy, mocks the insane,  attacks doctors and then makes a mute Native American man the hero. ????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????!

This title has:

Too much violence
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking

Movie Details

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