Metascore
60

Mixed or average reviews - based on 20 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 10 out of 20
  2. Negative: 1 out of 20
  1. 90
    Brutally honest and brilliantly acted.
  2. Shows more hopelessness than optimism but is never less than honest.
  3. If the cast is distractingly pretty, the performances are also quite fine and, in the case of Gordon-Levitt, exceptional.
  4. Reviewed by: Ron Wells
    80
    As always, Don Cheadle is fantastic, but the film belongs to Joseph Gordon-Levitt.
  5. It's without posturing or phony outrage, and offers instead something far more affecting: a deep sense of melancholy. This is the way it is, it says, and not much can be done about it.
  6. 75
    This clear-eyed, low-budget drama is populated by troubled teens whose stories aren’t packaged in neat little bows. Their histories are sad, their feelings raw, their futures uncertain.
  7. 70
    Often the script (co-written by Michael Bacall, who plays sardonic bipolar rich kid Chad) rings clear with mouths-of-babes declamations that all pained kids spew before downing adulthood's suck-it-up Kool-Aid.
  8. The texture of Manic feels honest and the chemistry of the kids is well observed, but even the modest breakthroughs are dramatic conventions that favor the symbolic over the genuine.
  9. 63
    Excellent performances redeem Jordan Melamed's gritty teenage version of "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest."
  10. Don Cheadle is wonderful, as always, as the former drug-addict-turned-psychiatrist who worries it's all hopeless but refuses to stop trying. Sounds clichéd, perhaps, but for the most part it works, thanks to piercingly authentic performances.
  11. There's something already exhausted, however, in the intrusively gauzy, wobbly, blurry, zoomy digital-video look of the piece.
  12. Searching for a documentary feel, the camera here is so shaky that you cling to the arms of your chair lest you pitch into the next row.
  13. Buoyed by some sensitive performances and nearly tanked by insensitive filming.
  14. 50
    Really, we'd rather just watch a good documentary about the subject. And as the camera flings around, we occasionally forget about what could help the teens and think more about what could help the director: How about a tripod?
  15. Reviewed by: Ken Fox
    50
    The film doesn't really go anywhere, other than outside for endless games of basketball, and the group-therapy environment allows for far too many young-actor monologues.
  16. 50
    If the movie is not original, at least it's a showcase for the actors and writers. It does not speak as well, alas, for director Jordan Melamed and his cinematographer, Nick Hay.
  17. Reviewed by: Scott Foundas
    40
    Melamed's debut film, Manic, set in a juvenile mental institution, has all the uncertainties of a first run-through.
  18. 40
    The camera work is so self-conscious and so intrusive that it consistently overrides our interest in the characters and their individual dramas.
  19. What really hurts is the movie's shallow screenwriting, self-indulgent acting, and woozy camerawork.
User Score
8.5

Universal acclaim- based on 26 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 10 out of 10
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 10
  3. Negative: 0 out of 10
  1. Mar 1, 2011
    10
    One of the best indie movie I ever seen in my life. Joseph, Zooey and Don are all great actors in this movie. The movie has great directingOne of the best indie movie I ever seen in my life. Joseph, Zooey and Don are all great actors in this movie. The movie has great directing and the best writing. Full Review »
  2. Oct 20, 2013
    7
    Once you get past the shaky camera, this movie shows off strong performances by Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Don Cheadle, and Zooey Deschanel. TheOnce you get past the shaky camera, this movie shows off strong performances by Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Don Cheadle, and Zooey Deschanel. The only gripe I had was with the plot development. At times the story felt like it wasn't really going anywhere. Even with that gripe this is still a good movie and I wouldn't let that keep you from watching it. Full Review »
  3. Aug 10, 2013
    6
    Lyle Jensen (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) has a few issues with anger management. Most of the time, he's in complete control, but one day, during aLyle Jensen (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) has a few issues with anger management. Most of the time, he's in complete control, but one day, during a baseball game, he loses it and almost kills someone. Lyle's not quite eighteen yet, so he's sent to a psychiatric hospital, where he learns that compared to others, his problems are nothing. I've said it before and I'll say it again, Joseph Gordon-Levitt is the single most underrated and under appreciated actor in all of Hollywood. I've seen a lot of his films, some are great and some are awful, but the fact remains that he always gives a strong performance and makes even the worst movie that much better. Manic was a rare inside look at a youth psychiatric facility, but there wasn't much of a story behind it. Of course we meet Lyle and the other patients, finding out why they're there, but there really isn't a point to it. The quality of the film further decreases with the way it was filmed, as every scene features constant movement from numerous angles. Similar to these camcorder films, I honestly found it pretty distracting, not to mention nauseating. The best part of Manic though is clearly the performances. This was released in 2001, before any of the stars were household names, however after seeing the film, it's easy to see why they all became popular. Don Cheadle is another actor that doesn't get the recognition he deserves, playing the Doctor in Manic, he is the glue that brings everyone together. Even with JGL's performance, this film is a mess of nonsense without Don Cheadle. Manic is somewhat disturbing and filmed in a way that makes it hard to watch, but the performances are just about as good as it gets and make this film worth seeing. Full Review »