"BULLY" (2012) MOVIE REVIEW
Independent Films, Social Responsibility Movies, Movie Reviews, Film Profiles
A simple Google search of the word bully yields 139 million results. It is indeed a worldwide problem that has everyone from President Obama to Lady Gaga taking action.
One action you can take is watching the new documentary “Bully” directed by Sundance and Emmy-award winning filmmaker Lee Hirsch. It’s a startling and humanistic portrait of five kids and their families dealing with bullying.
The first folks we meet in the movie are Kirk and Laura Smalley. Their 11 year-old son, Ty, committed suicide due to bullying. Both parents are still clearly distraught about their son’s death.
The stories of the affected parents are as equally heartbreaking as the narrative of the children. There’s David and Tina Long, parents of 17-year old Tyler of Murray County, Georgia, who hanged himself after years of abuse. The Longs demand accountability from the school and force their community to deal with bullying.
Transcripts / Production notes / Scripts
Kids bully other children because of the perceived weakness of the victim. Whether it’s disability or sexual orientation, it’s easier for some to resort to bullying rather than to work things out or find a way to manage their emotions.
Take Kelby for example. She’s a 16-year-old lesbian who has been treated unfairly in her small town of Tuttle, Oklahoma. The story she tells about her own teachers and their hatred towards Kelby will make you want to leave the town for good. But not Kelby, she’s here to stay and change a few minds.
Some bully victims even resort to violence. Witness Ja’Meya, a 14-year-old girl from Yazoo County, Mississippi. One morning, tired of being bullied, Ja’Meya brought a loaded handgun and brandished it around. Now, the quiet, unassuming girl is sitting in juvenile detention facility awaiting the outcome of her case.
The focal point of “Bully” is Alex, a 12-year-old Iowa kid who is happy at home and unloved at school. To Alex, his bullies are his friends because sadly, he has no one to chum around with.
Hirsch presents their stories and gives voice to the oppressed. There’s really no clear-cut villain in the film but the act of bullying itself. Even some of the school administrators shown in the documentary are pretty perplexed. One assistant principal admits she does not know how to solve the problem. That same assistant principal is also seen not doing anything to Alex’s tormentors even when confronted with videotape evidence.
The best line of the movie comes from a pastor attending a community forum. He asks, “if bartenders are responsible for their customers’ intoxication, then why can’t administrator be held accountable for bullying in their schools?”
Some critics may deem “Bully” as a one-sided film that only highlights the plight of the victims. For the fair and balanced conceit of the documentary genre, it might have been wise to also showcase the stories of the bullies.
But “Bully” is a great start to get us talking about the subject. The film was pushed toward the spotlight recently when the MPAA gave the film an R rating due to language. I can tell you now that the classification system was unfair to the movie. The language used was indicative of what bullies normally utter.
The film even offers hope. If we stand together as a society, we can fight this problem. Indeed, every parent, administrator, and student must see “Bully.” It’s one of the most important movies of 2012.
RATING: “BULLY” GETS 4 KISSES
Year of Production: 2012
Country: United States