Lyle is filled with rage. After badly beating a classmate during a schoolyard fight, Lyle is committed to a juvenile mental institution in lieu of criminal prosecution. Inside the hospital, Lyle encounters a group of adolescents struggling with a variety of illnesses. The troubled teens are under the watchful eye of their psychiatrist, Dave, a reformed drug addict. As these complex youths fight to overcome a series of emotionally charged events we are constantly reminded of the line that separates them from their "sane" friends in suburban lives.
Jittery, obtrusive video camerawork nearly ruins this well-acted if dramatically familiar film about a group of sensitive teenagers locked up in a California mental institution. Joseph Gordon-Levitt, the wisecracking teen of "Third Rock From the Sun," gives a restrained, naturalistic performance as a young man with a genuine anger management problem; the radiant Zooey Deschanel, playing a suicidal fellow inmate, is his love interest. — Dave Kehr
2003-04-25 | Dave Kehr | Read the New York Times Review of Manic