53 user 36 critic

Manic (2001)

R | | Drama | 23 May 2003 (USA)
1:10 | Trailer

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Lyle Jensen is subject to sudden and violent outbursts, and he is committed to the juvenile wing of the Northwood Mental Institution. Several other youths are there with a variety of ... See full summary »


Jordan Melamed
1 nomination. See more awards »





Cast overview, first billed only:
Joseph Gordon-Levitt ... Lyle
Maggie Baird ... Rebecca
Don Cheadle ... Dr. David Monroe
Blayne Weaver ... Charlie
Lydell M. Cheshier Lydell M. Cheshier ... J.C.
Roxie Fuller ... Roxie
Bree Nogueira Bree Nogueira ... Bree
Kathy Paradise Kathy Paradise ... Nurse
Elden Henson ... Michael
Cody Lightning ... Kenny
Michael Bacall ... Chad
Sara Rivas ... Sara
Lauren Shubert Lauren Shubert ... Lauren
Zooey Deschanel ... Tracey
William Richert ... Diego


Lyle Jensen is subject to sudden and violent outbursts, and he is committed to the juvenile wing of the Northwood Mental Institution. Several other youths are there with a variety of serious problems. Lyle interacts with other patients and staff on a human, and sometimes not so human level. The psychological problems of the patients also forms the fabric by which we see what's right with them, and what's wrong with the society that affects them. Written by Scott from Milwaukee, WI, USA

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


i am human See more »



Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for disturbing violent content, strong language and some drug use | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »






Release Date:

23 May 2003 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Manic - Weggesperrt See more »

Filming Locations:

Camarillo, California, USA


Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$7,628, 27 April 2003, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$69,716, 15 June 2003
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


Most of the extras in the movie were teenagers that had actually been in hospitals to treat depression. See more »


Chad: That's gotta be the stupidest thing I've ever heard in my entire life!
Sara: Don't fucking call me stupid.
Chad: I didn't say you were stupid, butch, I said your opinion was stupid, because it is!
Sara: Wolverine has steel plates in his bones
Chad: [interrupting] So what?
Sara: And Batman has a little fucking belt and a little fucking cape. What the hell is he gonna do with that? Wolverine would take him down in 2 seconds.
Chad: Batman is so much smarter, and so much more of an intelligent fighter then like
Sara: [interrupting] What is ...
See more »


References Braveheart (1995) See more »


U.F.O.'s Over Leytonstone
Written by T. Jenkinson
Performed by Squarepusher
See more »

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User Reviews

Manic Depression
10 March 2006 | by Teebs2See all my reviews

"Manic" follows teenager Lyle (Joseph Gorden-Levitt) as he is sent into therapy to work on his serious anger management problem, having nearly killed a boy at his school with a baseball bat. The film follows his relationships within the small group, comprising of teenagers suffering mostly from depression or similar anger issues.

Similar to "thirteen" released a few years after this film, "Manic" was co-written by one of the teenagers (Michael Bacall) in the film (although presumably not from his own direct experiences) and this does give the script an authentic ring in terms of dialogue, subjects of discussion and a feel for contemporary American adolescence. Several genuine patients of similar therapy institutions play small roles here and the moments when they tell, presumably true stories, do lend an authentic feel. Unfortunately, the film never quite takes off dramatically. It's too stuck in 'realism' to turn into an outright escape narrative such as "One Flew..." or "Girl, interrupted".

Lyle makes plans to escape and dreams of travelling to Europe but it never forms a central plot to the film. Similarly a tentative romance with a girl in the group, Tracey (the marvellous Zooey Deschanel) is downplayed. There are strong sub-plots, such as an ongoing feud with gangster wannabee Michael (a very good Elden Henson) but the film doesn't address the fundamental issues in these kids lives preferring to just address the direct group dymanics rather than digging deeper. In fact the most distressing story is of Kenny, Lyle's quiet room-mate, who it turns out was abused by his apparently normal, caring father. Holding the film together is a fantastic Don Cheadle, as Dr Monroe, the compassionate yet strict group leader. Cheadle manages to give a layered performance that shows an obvious connection to the kids in his care, professional skill at helping them, a mild touch of cynicism as to the extent people really can change and hints of battling problems of his own.

It's an understandable decision not to over-dramatise events but by playing straight the film risks drifting into banality. The decision not to investigate in more depth the way the US, and Western world, relies on medication to control such teenagers is also a missed opportunity.

The intrusive, mostly close-up DV filming does give that documentary feel to some extent, otherwise it's a little excessively jittery and some may find it distracting from the story and characters, rather than adding an emotional subjectivity.

I would give this film a lower score but the performances by the majority of the cast are first class and there are some very emotional moments and scenarios. Gordon Levitt seems to be favouring these kind of messed up teenager roles and his performance is convincing. Zooey Descchanel yet again proves herself the best young actress around in a demanding role and as mentioned, Don Cheadle near steals the film and provides a much needed strong central foundation in an otherwise dramatically and thematically uncertain script.

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