Solitary Man Movie Poster Image

Solitary Man



Gripping drama about getting older has drinking, sex.
  • Review Date: December 13, 2010
  • Rated: R
  • Genre: Drama
  • Release Year: 2010
  • Running Time: 90 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Acceptance of life's passages is crucial to aging with dignity, self-awareness, and trustworthiness ("You can't cheat death)." There are severe consequences for bad behavior and irresponsibility; and yet family and friends may offer a second chance. It takes courage to admit mistakes and ask for forgiveness.

Positive role models

Lead character starts out as a self-indulgent, dishonest scam artist. He pays dearly for his corrupted soul and finally sees the error of his ways. Other family members are shown to be good parents and good friends: honorable, loyal, and forgiving.


One brief tussle and fist fight between the mature hero and a college student. The hero is later subjected to a brutal beating by a hired thug.


Lots of frank discussion throughout the film about sexuality and the various characters' sexual experiences. Main character (identified as 60 years old) leers and flirts with women of all ages continually; for a time he focuses on an 18-year-old girl. There are multiple scenes of undressing, some sexual foreplay, passionate embracing, partial nudity, and post-sexual cuddling. A college party shows students making out.


Occasional swearing: "f--k," "hell," "ass," "asshole," "d--kwad," "sh--," "crap, "get you off," "balls, and more.


Jeep,  Apple Computer, BMW.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Many scenes include social drinking: dinner, parties, etc. and some underage drinking, including at a college event. Lead character gets very drunk on one occasion.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this is an adult movie with mature themes, lots of sexual discussion and some sexual, and a leading character who, in an effort to delay aging and mortality, obsessses about his appeal and sexual prowess, targeting women of all ages. In one scene, he takes on a male college student in a fist fight, and then later is brutally beaten by a hired thug.  Alcoholic beverages are frequently consumed at social gatherings, dinners, etc., sometimes by underage drinkers. One scene depicts the film's hero as very drunk.

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What's the story?

Ben Kalman's (Michael Douglas) life is coming apart. He's a persistent womanizer, a skilled manipulator, and a callous liar. His long-term marriage to Nancy (Susan Sarandon) is over; his beloved daughter's patience with him is wearing thin; he's recently sabotaged a successful and profitable Fortune 500 career; and he's in the final throes of self-destructing in his newest relationship. Grasping at what he is afraid are his last days of virility and power, Ben behaves badly and makes a series of devastatingly poor choices that send him even closer to the brink of disaster.

Is it any good?


Michael Douglas seems to do his very best work when he's playing a heel (Wall Street, Wonder Boys), and that's very much the case here. He slips easily and vividly into the role of Ben Kalman, a perfect vehicle that plays to his strengths. The story doesn't break any new ground, but it's well told and includes standout supporting performances from top to bottom, with Danny DeVito in a rare dramatic role; Jenna Fischer revealing much more than she gets to show in her television work; and Jesse Eisenberg, who's fast becoming the go-to college wonder boy himself.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the acceptance of life's passages and aging. How does Hollywood and the cult of celebrity affect society's attitudes about growing older?

  • Ben Kalman is dishonest in many of his relationships. What price does he pay? How do you think the story would have changed if he had gotten away with his behavior?

  • The film's ending is ambiguous. Why do you think the filmmakers made that choice?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:May 21, 2010
DVD release date:September 9, 2010
Cast:Jenna Fischer, Michael Douglas, Susan Sarandon
Directors:Brian Koppelman, David Levien
Studio:Millennium Films
Run time:90 minutes
MPAA rating:R
MPAA explanation:language and some sexual content

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