NY1 Movie Review: "Bully"
The new documentary "Bully", which has received a good deal of publicity lately over it's initial "R" rating, opens in theaters this week. NY1's Neil Rosen filed the following review.
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The new documentary "Bully" has been receiving some publicity lately for getting an R rating, which would make it out of reach to one of its key target groups. So the Weinstein Company has decided to release it unrated.
It would seem that the act of bullying has been around forever, but until recently, nothing has really been done about the problem. According to filmmaker Lee Hirsh, who co-wrote and co-directed this film, over 13 million kids will be bullied this year. And that would make it the most common form of violence experienced by young people in the nation.
The filmmakers follow five kids who are victims of bullying and over the course of the film we get to see and hear about some of the horrors that they endure every day. We also hear from their families, some of whom take a strong stand.
The movie opens with a heartfelt, powerful speech from the father of one boy, who was so tormented by classmates that he took his own life. Over the course of this documentary we see how several school officials do see warning signs but are ultimately ineffectual as they close their eyes to the problem.
Among the profiles, a 16-year-old girl who, after coming out as a lesbian, is shunned by her community in Tuttle, Oklahoma.
There's a 14-year-old who lives in Mississippi and is so fed up with being picked on that she takes a loaded handgun on to a school bus to scare off her tormentors.
Then there's 12-year-old Alex who wants nothing more than to fit in, but has to deal with constant humiliation.
There is no question that the filmmakers are well intentioned and deserve a lot of credit in their efforts to bring the problem to light, but structurally it's messy and repetitive. The 98 minute running time feels a lot longer than it is and emotionally, especially with such strong subject matter, the movie doesn't grab you as much as it should.
Overall, I wish it were better.
Neil Rosen's Big Apple Rating: 2.5 Apples