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City of Men Review Critics


Dave White Profile

… a melodramatic message movie … Read full review

Other Critics provided by

Critics scores range from 0 to 100, with higher scores indicating more favorable reviews.

  • 4.0

    out of 100

    Generally favorable reviews
    based on a weighted average of all
    critic review scores.

  • 67

    out of 100

    Entertainment Weekly Owen Gleiberman

    As heavy with message as any Hollywood delinquent drama of the late '50s.

    Read Full Review

  • 75

    out of 100

    USA Today Claudia Puig

    A poignant look at the legacies of fathers who abdicate their responsibilities.

    Read Full Review

  • 75

    out of 100

    Chicago Tribune Michael Phillips

    Director Morelli and editor Daniel Rezende know how to set up complex lines of action and keep the screws tight.

    Read Full Review

  • See all City of Men reviews at

For Families provided by Common Sense Media

Iffy for 16+

Powerful melodrama mixes violence, messages.

What Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that the main characters in this subtitled drama are young (some don't look older than 10), impoverished gangsters in Rio de Janeiro who commit frequent acts of bloody violence. Along with wrestling and fighting, there's shooting (with both handguns and automatic weapons), standoffs, and ambushes in the streets; one gang burns down a woman's house because she's related to an enemy. There are several sex scenes, but they're brief and blurry (movement is obvious, but nudity is muted). Girls wear bikinis on the beach, and boys comment on their looks. Language includes frequent uses of "f--k" and other profanity. Characters smoke cigarettes and marijuana and drink liquor.

  • Families can talk about the movie's messages. What is it saying about the criteria -- aside from chronology -- that make someone an adult? How do Wallace and Ace learn to be good "men"? Does the film offer hope that the friends can escape from the violence of their childhoods? Do you think that's an accurate reflection of real life?

The good stuff
  • message true0

    Messages: Young gangsters take up combat and retaliation, essentially without any oversight by urban authorities or parents; in fact, most adults are either gangsters themselves, ex-cons, or victims. The film does differentiate between gangsters showing moral development (and seeking escape from the cycle) and those who only want to commit more mayhem.

What to watch for
  • violence false5

    Violence: Violence is both casual and explicit. Kids wrestle and fight in playful ways but also engage in brutal behavior that includes beatings, combat-style shootouts, and ambushes in the city streets (with automatic weapons, from rooftops, hiding in alleys), as well as point-blank shooting. Wounded victims are bloody. Repeated images of kids with guns. When Ace is given his first gun, he's excited -- then he witnesses a shootout and won't fire his weapon. A boy learns that his father shot a friend's father in the back.

  • sex false3

    Sex: Women appear in bikinis and skimpy clothing (sometimes showing cleavage) on the beach and during street/rooftop parties. Brief blurry sex images in a bed (movement shown but figures not explicit). Ace has sex with various women at his workplace (he's a security guard); there are brief images of them on his lap and some kissing. Wallace flirts with his girlfriend; he also tells a story about a girl seducing him.

  • language false5

    Language: Multiple uses of "f--k" (some with "mother"), "s--t," and "damn," as well as "hell," "prick," "p---y," and "ass" (some with "hole"). All language is in subtitles.

  • consumerism false0

    Consumerism: iPods.

  • drugsalcoholtobacco false3

    Drinking, drugs and smoking: Drinking and cigarette smoking at a bar; some gang members smoke marijuana several times. Someone wears a T-shirt that says "Tequila."