Premise: A documentary about bullying in American schools. It follows an outcasted boy who's kind of odd looking, a lesbian teenager who got shunned by her Bible Belt town, a girl who snapped and brought a gun on a school bus, and a couple of families who've had children kill themselves as a result of bullying. Thankfully, the filmmakers held back showing the gruesome footage of a swirly in action.
-What I enjoyed most was actually seeing all the layers of the system failing right before my eyes. The parents failing to recognize how bad things are. The vice principal not listening to the parents. The school board failing to acknowledge a flaw in their design. All while this poor kid continues to get choked out by a mouth-breathing bully on the school bus every day.
-The structure jumps around like a dark version of the documentary Spellbound. Except where that film is about the positive nature of getting an education, Bully is about how difficult it can be to physically get to the school in the first place.
-There's some heart tugging moments. I like those because I enjoy feeling feelings every now and then. Lets me know I'm not some kind of monster. So if 11 year olds killing themselves makes you cry, then bring some tissues.
-It provides some insight, but not a lot of solutions. Merely a "please get along" kind of message. I don't see some a--hole bully watching this and really changing his ways. I mean there's a hopeful rally cry at the end, but changing an entire nation of jerk kids into nice people won't happen because of one movie. It's a start, though. Baby steps.
-This film uses NON-STOP blurring and rack focus shooting techniques. AND THEY ARE TERRIBLE. What an unnecessary way to shoot a documentary. My senior thesis documentary in college was shot less annoying than this, and trust me, I did not shoot it well.
-I thought it would have been really interesting if one of the stories involved following an actual bully around, and got a taste of what his thought process was. I almost think a more effective film would have involved less sympathy for the victims, and more degradation of the attackers. But I guess that would just be bullying the bullies, I suppose? The circle of hate!
Final Thoughts: Maybe it's because I'm not a teenager anymore, and was never a bullied or bullying teenager back then, but the film didn't exactly affect me in a life changing way. I certainly found it interesting. But probably not inspiring. I know it wants to be an agenda film, but the way that it's made, it came across to me more as an observational film about a few specific kids. I don't think it will affect that many teenagers, to be honest. Some kids are nice, some kids are horrible monsters. Everybody develops their character in college (for better or worse). I suppose if Bully does anything as an outside impact, it will show adults how powerless these kids feel when they are bullied, and how they think no one will help them, and thus they sometimes decide to end their lives. Maybe it will give the adults in their lives a little heads up to actually listen to these kids, instead of assuming it's not that big of a deal. It seems like a lot of these kids feel alone in the fight, and they just wish they could have someone who has their back for a change.
7.5 out of 10
I will preface by saying I haven't seen this movie, yet. My wife is a high school counselor and I'm into film, so I have no doubt that I will one day see this movie.
Here's my question, will this movie have more effect on actually bullying or on the MPAA rating system?
I ask because at this point, outside of your review, I've heard way more about how the MPAA has treated this film than the actual subject matter of the film.
[Jeremy Doyle] "
Here's my question, will this movie have more effect on actually bullying or on the MPAA rating system?"
I'm not sure I'm 100% up-to-date n the Bully MPAA conflict, but I have read about it somewhat. I know that it ended up having a R-rating (that's what I saw it as), because of some language. But the last thing I read about it was that Harvey Weinstein was planning on releasing a PG-13 version down the road. So, in a way, the MPAA bullied Bully into doing what they ultimately wanted - censoring the movie to their magical authority on morality. Because of that, I assume this will probably have *zero* effect on the way the MPAA runs things. The MPAA won.
All that said, I have no problem with foul language whatsoever, and I thought the R-rated cut of Bully was less damaging to America's youth than, say, the uber violence of the PG-13 rated Hunger Games. (not that I think The Hunger Games was *actually* damaging to America's youth, but you get what I'm saying)
I lived thru what these kids lived thru, and so did my oldest son. I can write you a book on the subject from the victim's perspective. And I have zero sympathy for the attackers. It haunts your entire life forever afterwards. There is no excuse to allow it at any level, at any time. But we have set up a horribly conflicted system in this country to deal with bullying, and how adults DO deal with it in schools is completely random and uncoordinated, and often self-contradictory. I had better stop soon of I'll crash the servers here with all I COULD write about this topic.
Ignorant and dismissive statements like: "Boys will be boys", taken as policy and excuse, are the heart of the problem. And it's a problem felt by girls as well.
If I won the big lotto, one of my first purchases would be to send a DVD of this movie to every school district, school board, PTA, Superintendant, principal, counselor, and teacher. Until then, all I can do is urge all of them to watch this film and feel what it is, to be that one victim, and to have no hope, nobody to save you.
[Mark Suszko] "If I won the big lotto, one of my first purchases would be to send a DVD of this movie to every school district, school board, PTA, Superintendant, principal, counselor, and teacher. "
I'll take that as a recommendation to watch this movie.
A video called To This Day based on a great poem talks about the lasting impact bully's cause is really well done and is worth watching. Different artists created 20 second segments and they where glued to together to get this:
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Bully was in the local red box this week, I watched it with my kids to provoke a discussion. The camerawork is by turns overly-artificial yet also hauntingly evocative in some parts. The editing takes languid, uncomfortably long pauses at times, to confront a viewer.
We were all yelling at the TV at the part where the oblivious school principal tells the kid's parents his tortures on the bus are no big deal, then tries to change the subject around to her personal life issues.
This movie will get your Irish up, if you're a parent.