Bully the Movie (2001) is a Bully Movie based on an adaptation of the true crime book, Bully, A True Story of High School Revenge, by Jim Schutze. It is a story about a group of young adults who plot to get even with the bully making their lives miserable. The film stars Brad Renfro and Rachel Miner as a young teenage couple plotting revenge, and Nick Stahl as Bobby Kent, the bully who makes their lives miserable. Learn about the subject of a Bully Movie!
Bully Movie: Is this appropriate for kids?
Due to its intense and frequent graphic depictions of sex, rape, drugs, and violence, as well as its strong language, it absolutely earns its R rating. This Bully Movie ‘s language is harsh and packed with F-bombs, and the graphic sex and nudity are Game of Thrones level of gratuity. This is not a movie you would take your young child or tween to; older teens, however, may be able to handle the candid and brutal portrayals of violence, drug use, and gratuitous close-ups of nude girls’ bodies. While director Larry Clark clearly thought he was being “gritty” and “powerful”, the frequent sex (every five minutes someone takes their clothes off) and raunchy behavior wind up being more distracting than illuminating.
No one is an innocent, “good kid” in this Bully Movie. The victims are drug-taking, sex-craved, foul-mouthed losers (most of them are high school dropouts with no direction in their lives) with extremely loose morals. If you’re looking for a lesson in how to deal with a bully, this may not be the best example to use. While an audience may sympathize with the kids’ dilemma in dealing with the abusive Bobby Kent, their “solution”–to kill the bully–is hardly one that should be emulated.
Bully Movie: What conversations will Bully initiate?
Does Bully offer any insight into what causes bullying? Is it all the drugs? Is it the rap music with its violent, misogynist lyrics that plays so prominently throughout the film? Or perhaps it’s the violent video games that the characters play? Or maybe the bully’s repressed homosexuality or his controlling father. There are numerous hints of Freudian explanations, but ultimately, Bully is as guilty of exploiting the victims as the title character is of his friends. It is a disturbing and uncomfortable film, verging on soft-core porn.
One gritty piece of realism director Clark does show is his depiction of the aftermath of the brutal crime. For as jacked up as the kids were when they were planning their friend’s murder, they soon show how devastating the impact of their actions were on them after the deed was done. They weren’t nearly as tough as they thought they were. Unlike most action thrillers, Bully does show its audience the agonizing aftermath of a gruesome crime–the emotional and legal consequences these kids went through were more honest and realistic than the bravado that preceded it.
Bully Movie: Other Movies About Bullying
The dilemma in making serious movies about bullying is that the film itself can be as traumatic and disturbing as an actual bullying experience. This is why these films can be so controversial. On the one hand, if a filmmaker sugarcoats the issue, and softens the blows, as it were, it could make bullying seem like not such a horrible problem, and the audience won’t feel just how serious it is to the victims.
On the other hand, if the film is geared towards young people, it can’t allow itself get too graphic or brutal. It’s a fine line. It can be either upsetting or cathartic to young viewers, particularly viewers who may themselves be victims of bullying.
Bully Movie: Cyberbully
Another film, also a fictionalized account, and far less graphic, is ABC Family’s Cyberbully (2011), directed by Charles Binamé. It stars Emily Osment as a teenager who, after getting her first laptop, gets sucked up in the world of cyberbullying on a social internet site. Cyberbully is much more tame, and thus more appropriate for younger teen audiences. It also addresses a form of bullying that we don’t normally pay much attention to: internet bullying.
It can be a rather simplistic, melodramatic, and preachy story (the climactic lunchroom scene where the victims all stand up to the group of “mean girls” who have been bullying the whole school could have been written right out of the anti-bullying brochure), but this can make it easier for young teenagers to grasp the underlying message, that cyberbullying can be just as harmful as physical bullying. The film becomes a how-to guide that touches on topics such as antibullying legislation and finding a bullying support group. Like the Bully Project described below, Cyberbully has an affiliated nonprofit support group that kids and parents can turn to for information, resources, and support: www.stompoutbullying.org.
Bully Movie the documentary
The Bully Movie 2001 and Cyberbully are works of fiction, so as brutal as some of the situations they depict are, the audience still knows that the events they are watching are being portrayed by actors. Bully the Movie 2011, on the other hand, is a documentary directed by Lee Hirsch that follows several children who have been victims of bullies through the course of a school year. All the events, and all the people, portrayed are real, which makes their stories even more powerful.
Parents looking for a vehicle to discuss bullying are better off turning to this 2011 documentary. Unlike the Bully movie of 2001, this film is not a titillating tale of a bunch of bad kids, but a serious portrayal of the bullying phenomenon. The Bully Movie is part of a larger social movement called the “Bully Project.” The aim of both the Bully Movie and the project is to raise awareness and generate dialog about a painful subject. The Bully Project’s goal is to reach 10 million young people, and to date they have reached over 3.2 million.
The Bully Project movie follows nine families through the 2009-2010 school year: families who have all been victims of bullying and abuse. These are clearly real kids, not Hollywood-gorgeous teens. These kids are victimized because they are shy, they are awkward, or they are gay, or otherwise “different”. As one father described it, it was like his son had a “target on his back.” The bullying depicted here is more mental and emotional than it is outright physical abuse, but the audience feels just how hurtful the mental abuse is: that it can be as painful as any physical blow.
The responses of these various children to the attacks upon them vary from ignoring the taunts they endure daily to retaliation to suicide. One girl takes her mother’s gun and threatens a busload of her classmates who had been taunting her. The incident causes her to wind up in a psychiatric hospital for a number of months. The movie also introduces us to a family who paid the ultimate price as their child, unable to cope, took his own life.
Bully Movie: It takes a village
One underlying through line of these films is that the problem of bullying is systemic and all too often not taken seriously by the schools or the authorities. The old saw, “kids will be kids,” or “all kids are mean” is the typical response of the school boards when the family or the victim steps forward.
The films stress that by speaking out and standing up for themselves, victims can make a difference. But there also has to be collective support. Speaking up as a community is critical. The media can play a big role as well. In both Cyberbully and Bully the documentary, when the media stepped in and shined a light on the problem, recalcitrant authorities and school boards finally took action. It wasn’t until the documentarians themselves showed some of the footage to the parents and the school that anyone took notice.
One angle that seemed to be missing from all these films is the perspective of the bullies themselves. These films all focus on the experience of the victims, which is an absolutely necessary step for us as a society to understand and empathize with their plight. But what makes a bully a bully? Why do they feel compelled to hurt and insult and taunt their victims? Perhaps the next step in exploring the topic is to delve into the psyche of the bully. You need to learn about this Bully Movie Now!
Another reason that these last two bully movies are appropriate for a family to share is that the final scenes of both are ones of hope. The victimized girl in the bully movie Cyberbully gets help and stands up to her attackers in a proactive (yet not violent) way. In Bully the documentary bully movie, the parents of the child who killed himself are shown speaking across the country, uniting families and victims with a message of empowerment, encouraging their audiences to take a stand. Showing children just one bully movie can change his/her perspective on bullying forever. If you have another bully movie to recommend for us to see, tell us of that bully movie below now!
Teenage bullying movies are filling vine and youtube, waiting for someone to see them and get the picture about what bullying is really about. Making one of those teenage bullying movies? pass this no bullying movie to us and help us spread bullying awareness today.
As one young victim pointed out, “you can’t change it all at once. It takes multiple people at multiple stages all talking and making a difference.”