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  • The most powerful documentaries are those that speak for themselves. They let their subjects do the talking and lead the film. This is, by far, Bully's greatest strength. This powerful doc. tells the story of several different families who encounter bullying in different ways. We follow a few families dealing with suicides as a result of bullying, one family whose son is dealing with bullying on an everyday basis, and one family whose daughter is in youth behavioral detention from having brought a gun onto a bus. Each story is a different, powerful facet of bullying and the journey is moving and heart breaking. At the center, however, is the main argument that not enough is being done by the adults to prevent bullying.

    As stated, the film is told by it's subjects. We witness the bullying that occurs first hand, follow the subjects in their everyday lives, and see first hand the divide between the kids who are bullied and the adults who either do nothing or are unaware of the problem. Other parents deal with the loss of their child through suicide stemmed from bullying and their efforts to change the school systems and law enforcement that ignore the problem. Like any good film, and documentary for that matter, we have our heroic underdogs and our villains. In this case, our heroes are the bullied and our villains are those behind the broken system that allows bullying to continue. One woman in particular displays aptly the real problem and does so with finesse. I will say, by the end of the movie, you'll want to punch her in the face for being such a....well, I can't use that word in this review.

    The tragedies in this film are supplemented by a handful of moments that really grab at you. From hearing a man who lost his son use politics as an example to a confrontation in the aforementioned woman's office, the film has a good arc about it. We root for change to happen and for these kids lives to improve, for there to be hope, and there is. Even though the tragedies are rough and even a bit tough to watch at times, we are rewarded with the hope of better days and an improvement. As someone who was a victim of bullying and has known many others to also be victims of bullying, it's refreshing to see that people are standing up all over the world and attempting to do something about it. To say that this film is important is just touching on what it means for this doc to be made.

    That isn't to say the film is perfect. Far from it, there's a lot that could have been done. First, the film isn't especially well rounded. We don't get the opposite point of view. Having some of the bullies interviewed would have been a bit interesting I think. It would have also been nice to see some bullies and bullied as adults and what they think. The film also doesn't really look at anything beyond the immediate situation. We don't get any statistical data about bullies or a big variation on the kinds of bullying that occurs. We are simply presented with a few not so unique victims. Perhaps it was simply the filmmakers intention to show us a broken system and those trying to change it, but I would have preferred more variety, however, in the presentation of this problem.

    Beyond this, the film is truly great. I can't stress the importance enough of this documentary. With all that goes on in this country these days, it's easy to overlook how important this matter is and how vital it is for the adults involved to put an end to bullying. Especially powerful are the numerous stories of child suicides which reinforce the importance of the issue. I'd even go so far as to say this documentary should be mandated watching for schools. If you have children, find a way for them to see this film. It is one of the most important films of our time.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    We saw this at the LA Film festival (we are big festival goers) and really enjoyed it. In fact, I was surprised there weren't a lot of reviewers here. There was a packed crowd where I saw it. It's sad that we really don't address the problem of bullying until the new millennium but folks should see this or at least show it in schools. We hear from parents whose kid committed suicide as a result of bullying and other kids who were bullied and how little is done about this problem. In this day and age when everyone gets a trophy and everyone is seemingly pampered, how can kids still have this happen to them? A well done film with a some brave kids.
  • The issue of bullying has started to get seriously discussed in the past few years, mainly due to suicides, often due to anti-gay bullying. "Bully" looks at bullying in general. Much of it consists of interviews with the bullied students and their parents. One of the important points that the documentary makes is that there is that the reaction to bullying is often "boys will be boys". "Bully" makes the point that these things will continue until we as a society say that it's not acceptable for anyone to let this to happen to people, especially in settings where children expect to be safe. Are we ready to say "Enough is enough" and prevent bullying before it starts?
  • Bully is a film that needed to be made. I believe at one point in time we were bullied, some of us were bullies, and most of us were been a bystander to bullying. For years, we've seen fictional characters be bullied in many Hollywood productions, that provided audiences with simple, relatable, and moderately effective entertainment. The characters were familiar, the plots were conventional, but we laughed, liked the characters, and wanted them to succeed more often than not. Never have we seen bullying in its rawest form, and capturing that on film is one of the hardest, most emotion-testing things one could do with the art form.

    In the documentary, we follow around five people from all across the U.S. who have encountered bullying in some way or shape in their school. In Oklahoma, we meet openly gay Kelby Johnson, a down to earth youth who has been outcast for her sexual orientation. She has a tight bond with her friends, including her girlfriend, but personal feelings of inferiority and the looming thought that she'll never be like everyone else has lead her to try to take her life three times. It is a bit sad her story couldn't have been elaborated more. The subject of gay bullying could've been a documentary on its own.

    In Mississippi, teenager Ja'Meya Jackson pulled a loaded gun on a bus full of students, enraged and hurt at the fact that she had been bullied for months and not a single person had taken action. She didn't kill anyone, but her life has changed greatly since the event. In Iowa, we meet Alex Libby, a socially awkward loner, victim to verbal and physical abuse on his school bus for a face resembling a fish. He is a quiet soul, bottling up his rage and hatred for people and coldly tells the camera "sometimes I want to become the bully." The other two children's stories are told through their parents, because they committed suicide for continuing arrogance to the problem. Kirk and Laura Smalley, parents of their late son Ty who took his life at the tender age of eleven, have started an organization called "Stand for the Silent" in hopes that people will speak out for those who aren't. The fifth boy is the deceased Tyler Long, who killed himself at seventeen because of ongoing torment for his weak appearance and uninvolved athletic status.

    As a documentary, Bully is a surface-scratcher, going for an expansive view on the issue, rather than a deep, moving one. It manages to pull in a number of different souls who have been victim to harsh, uncalled for treatment, but never seems to explore them to the level of depth that we'd like. We also, never get a look at the other side of the road, from a bully's perspective. Why does one bully? Why does one take pride in hurting other people? And does their homelife really have anything to do with it, or do they just enjoy the pain and torment his victim feels? Bully paints the issue as one with no feasible solution other than to police the grounds carefully and intricately.

    Bully has also been garnering a plethora of controversy surrounding the MPAA's decision to stamp the film with an R-rating. Director Lee Hirsch stated by doing that, the film would then be out of reach to children who the movie is directly made for. This is another move by the MPAA, made by completely tuning out the impact a film like this could have, in exchange for sticking to old, worn, outdated policies from an organization far too biased in their decision-making. The film was released for two weeks with an "Unrated" rating, rejecting the MPAA's suggested rating, before the edited cut, the one now in theaters, was released moderately theatrical with a few of f-words subtracted to try and garner more revenue and viewership.

    With that being said, the documentary is definitely worthy of recognition and is almost required viewing for not only young children, but parents as well. It gives hope to the unlikely outcasts, which I have always enjoyed seeing, and it provides people with the feeling that things are being done. For one, we are seeing a documentary on the issue and organizations are being created to stop it. Things are getting done, but will the problem be eliminated, is my question. Last year, I watched an ABC Family movie called Cyberbully, about a teen girl who was being harassed and attacked viciously on the web. Throughout the showing, commercials aired stating "stomp the bullying" and "delete the drama," but who really was paying attention? Are bullies going to look at a Television film and thing "what I'm doing is wrong, I should stop?" Most likely no. They will embrace it with a cold shoulder, ignoring its messages and its morals.

    I'm optimistic about the response for Bully, but as far as eliminating the degrading act, that would have to mean taking away peoples' feelings of inferiority and superiority to one another. That just can't be done. It's the painful side of the world and human nature. Bully is the first documentary I have had the pleasure of seeing in theaters, and despite noticeable restrictions, it is a brave film with a lot of heart, humanity, and soul. A bold and daring exercise that could change the way documentaries are produced. The MPAA should've debated that before seeking out the rubric for their tired policies.

    Starring: Alex Libby, Je'Maya Jackson, Kelby Johnson, Kirk Smalley, Laura Smalley, and Kim Lockwood. Directed by: Lee Hirsch.
  • Written by Markus Robinson, Edited by Nicole I. Ashland

    Ever since the Weinstein Company has been petitioning the MPAA to assign "Bully" a "PG-13" rating instead of the dreaded "R", there has been controversy surrounding its distribution. There have since been reports that the Weinstein Company plans to release this documentary as "Unrated" to get around the MPAA stranglehold, which may doom it to the dreaded "limited release" realm of no return and rarely seen. So what is the deal? Why was (until quite recently) "Bully" pulling an "R" rating? Does "Bully" advocate bullying? No. Does it use language that your twelve year son/daughter/sister/brother doesn't hear at school every day of his/her life? And (the one that terrifies the MPAA the most) is there any nudity? NOOOOOO. The biggest controversy of this film, and the main idiotic reason that this film pulled an "R" rating for the longest time, is the fact that audiences will actually see middle school and high school kids visibly getting shoved around, punched, and called awful names. And while the images here will be disturbing to parents and teens alike, they need to be seen by a demographic that is actually living through the controversial themes the movie brings up. The awful truth is that 13 million children are bullied every day. So, for the MPAA to have slapped it with an "R" rating is simply irresponsible. "Bully" is a cut and dry example of subject matter superseding the MPAA's fundamentally rigid beliefs of counting the number of F-bombs in a movie.

    Now, here is my review of "Bully":

    Like a real time therapy session for anybody who has ever been bullied in school, "The Bully Project" or "Bully" as it has been retitled, may not only be responsible for stirring up more pre-release controversy than any documentary in recent history, but also be one of the timeliest documentaries ever released. What director Lee Hirsch tries to do here, is give audiences and inside look at bullying in today's public schools by actually documenting a few victimized teens (ranging in ages from 12 to 16) as they are in the midst of day to day social bullying. The film begins with the story of a boy named Tyler, who killed himself as a direct result of being constantly ridiculed and physically abused from his peers at school. Hirsch films Tyler's parents as they discuss the dire epidemic that is school bullying today, and then we get to see bullying through the eyes of a child in a heartbreaking reality, as Hirsh introduces audiences to Alex, age 12. Alex is an undersized boy who is subjected to constant ridicule and scorn from his peers. And I'm not just talking about older kids at school calling him names. Hirsch follows Alex as he is seen getting his lunch stolen, physically hit in the back of the head, shoved to the ground and in one case stabbed with a pencil on the bus (as the bus driver does nothing). The tragic mental and physical abuse this child goes through will reduce many audience members to tears instantaneously. For others, the emotional damage this young man goes through on screen will be nothing less than anger inducing. If you had forgotten how bad it was being a teenager when you went to school, Alex will serve as a not so subtle reminder of how brutal some kids have it. And what's worse is Hirsch's depiction of how out of touch the adults are with their children, in conjunction with how seemingly unflinching school administrators act when confronted about bullying in their own schools.

    Final Thought: Unfortunately at times the subject matter of "Bully" is better than the film itself, even though Hirsch does daring work. What I mean by that is, that for how hard hitting his subject matter was, the filmmaking (or how the film was put together) could have been better if it would have included every aspect of bullying. In many ways this film only scratches the surface. In saying that, the film does more than serve its purpose. This isn't just a movie about the struggles of fitting in. This is an uncensored look into a bullying epidemic that up until a few years ago had been mostly swept under the rug of American society. So, even though it is doubtful that "Bully" will be the most well made documentary I see all year, it will most definitely be the most important; and one not only every child should see, but entire families should see together.

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  • If you are a caretaker of children in anyway I recommend this movie to you. I hope this director may consider doing a movie on corporal punishment in public schools in America. You come away from this movie thinking change could be simple but it is anything but. It takes a lot of support (Money) to create a noticeable change. Many of you may come away thinking, "how could that person be so ignorant". Beware, this movie is painful to watch. I wanted to jump out of my seat many times during this movie wanting to stop the insanity. You may want to write your congress as a place to start. I hope that you see it and I hope that you are educated by it.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    The documentary "Bully" opens with footage of David Long of Murray County, Georgia watching home video footage of his son, Tyler. Initially, David claims, Tyler was a bright and vibrant little boy. But as he grew older, something in him changed. He became more and more withdrawn from other kids his age, preferring to be alone. Gradually, David and his wife, Tina, became aware that he was being picked on in school. In all likelihood, they didn't know the full extent of their son's physical and emotional torment until after he committed suicide in October of 2009. He was only seventeen years old. "If there is a heaven," says David, bravely keeping his emotions in check, "I know that Tyler's there. What keeps me going is the blind faith that I'll see him again. That, and my wife and my other kids." The Longs take action, organizing a town-hall meeting to address the ways in which the school system failed to protect their son.

    Later in the film, we meet Perkins, Oklahoma residents Kirk and Laura Smalley as they attend the funeral of their eleven-year-old son, Ty, who also committed suicide after years of bullying. In their bedroom, Laura is slumped on the floor, sobbing uncontrollably. Kirk sits on the bed, distraught but able to speak. "We're just a bunch of nobodies," he says. "If this had happened to some politician's kid, a law would be passed in a minute." Ty's best friend eventually admits that he was himself a bully back in the second grade; by the third grade, he realized what he was doing was wrong, and how that he's eleven, he's passionately anti bullying. So too are Ty's parents. At the start of the academic year, Kirk, new to the internet, launches Stand for the Silent, an organization that will be dedicated to preventing school bullying and youth suicides.

    Director Lee Hirsch, having himself been a victim of bullying, also interviews a number of kids and families during the course of the 2009/2010 academic school year. There's fourteen-year-old Ja'Meya from Yazoo County, Mississippi, who's nearing the end of her sentence in juvenile hall for brandishing a loaded shotgun at her tormentors in a crowded school bus. She and her mother anxiously await the outcome of her case. Quiet and unassuming, she knows she made a gigantic mistake and will carry a criminal record the rest of her life. There's sixteen-year-old Kelby from Tuttle, Oklahoma; ever since coming out as a lesbian, she and her family have been ostracized from the community. Initially, she refuses to leave her school or her town, as she believes she can make a difference. As the film progresses, it becomes clearer that such a thing is easier said than done. At the very least, she has the support of her father and her friends, the latter especially.

    The main focus of the film is twelve-year-old Alex from Sioux City, Iowa. Hirsch and his camera crew follow him throughout his seventh-grade year, capturing a constant stream of slurs, physical assaults, and threats from several bullies. He gets the worst of it on the school bus, where it seems the drivers couldn't care less about any of the kids, let alone Alex. He gets along well with his family, although when it comes to school, he has stopped all communication with his parents. They're understandably frustrated. This goes double for his mother, who gave birth to Alex after only twenty-six weeks of pregnancy and was told he wasn't expected to survive. When the threats against Alex go one step too far, Hirsch decides it's time to intervene; he shows the footage he shot to his parents, the police, and the school administrators.

    His mother's reaction is interesting. On the one hand, she's infuriated with the school's principal and vice principal, who give her the usual remarks about how it will be taken care of when it's obvious that they don't care one bit. On the other hand, she suddenly understands what Alex is feeling and why. It now makes sense to her that he comes him downplaying the seriousness of his situation and showing no emotion. She believes he's modeling his father, although he asserts that Alex has never seen him cry simply because he isn't around when it happens. The only time Alex displays a genuine emotional reaction is when he admits to the camera, through a quivering lip, that it has gotten to the point the he wishes he were the bully.

    It's now well known that "Bully" was the subject of controversy regarding its rating. Initially stamped with an R for some language, Katy Butler of Ann Arbor, Michigan created a petition to have the rating changed to PG-13, as she wanted to ensure its exposure to school-age kids. The MPAA refused to yield, and so the film was released by The Weinstein Company without a rating. Although I applaud their act of defiance, a film without a rating is given even less distribution than a film with an R rating. This is a travesty; this movie should be required viewing of all adolescents, teenagers, parents, bus drivers, and school administrators. If there isn't a theater in your area showing it, e-mail Weinstein and request a DVD or internet screener. The day I saw it, I noticed in the audience a woman with three boys, who each looked between ten and twelve years old. I don't know if they got anything out of the film, but I was tempted to approach the woman afterwards and congratulate her for her efforts.

    Update: Since its original release date of March 30, 2012, the MPAA has given "Bully" a final rating of PG-13. Director Lee Hirsch announced this on his Facebook page, calling it "a great victory for us all." Indeed, it truly is. Now you have no excuses.

    -- Chris Pandolfi (www.atatheaternearyou.net)
  • This is an extraordinary documentary capturing intense and poignant moments. There are no psychologists or school counselors here to explain or elucidate the behaviour of these young children. The victims and events speak aptly, making commentary unnecessary.

    It shows the children being bullied and the bullies themselves. The victims are suffering intensely and we can feel their anguish and their powerlessness – the bullies are mean, inflicting all manner of harm to those who will not oppose them. The parents try to cope and are puzzled, flummoxed and heartbroken by these outside events. They try to deal and help their children in their despair. The teachers and the schools are moderately concerned at best and incapable at worst. There is a stunning moment between bully and victim where the principal is pleading with the victim to forgive. Sometimes it just seems like the schools are merely wishing the problem to go away.

    We listen to these young children speak articulately; they are well aware of their predicament, their victimization and their loneliness. For some, as the film illustrates, it is already too late. There are several suicides a year in schools across the U.S. (I am also aware that this happens in Canada as well).

    I am thankful to the makers of this film for openly bringing to our attention this problem which is so ubiquitous in our schools. It is only in the last few years that it has started to be discussed and viewed as a REAL problem. When I was in school many years ago it was almost a taboo area and was certainly not a subject for serious discussion. It was something one was expected to adjust to and move on.

    I am also grateful to those parents who are shown at the end of the film who have started a movement to denounce bullying; it is anti-social behaviour that should not be tolerated. Schools need to have safe areas where all can feel comfortable. The school bus would be a good starting point. Conformity, particularly in sports, needs to be re-examined. Making the parents, the school children and the school administrator and teachers aware of the problem must be a primary goal. This powerful and truthful film must be shown to all who work in schools.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    BULLY (2012) **** A must-see documentary by Lee Hirsch and Cynthia Lowen focusing on the epidemic of bullying in the schools of America which in and of itself can be presumed a pandemic as well in the sense of where anger, hatred and simple narrow-mindedness can manifest from and eventually spread. Five separate mid-Western families are depicted – two attempting to salvage their remaining family in the aftermath of their beloved's suicides confirmed from the relentless attacks they endured to the point of no return – showcase how a blind eye to incredibly frustrating situations (i.e. the closed environs of the school bus as a haven of beatings and humiliations thrust on their prey) are attempted to be dealt with or in the majority simply overlooked and ignored altogether. The one subject, Alex, a shy, sweet and smart adolescent is shown on the first day of school literally trembling (and brilliantly conveyed on the soundtrack of his hindered breathing in knowing what hell will ultimately be unleashed upon him), will have you rooting for him to get through the year and angrily screaming at the screen at the imbecilic school head and her myopic viewpoints that you want to step into the screen and throttle her! At times incredibly sad and tragic, the film is in essence a triumph in how the families stay together to battle this onset of violence and refusing to back down for the sake of their children – and more importantly – other children who have no voice of their own! Thankfully the MPAA JUST re-rated the film as PG-13 (for a few 'F' bombs!) and is a necessity for all parents AND children to see together and begin a dialogue for something that can be avoided/stopped. I urge you all to see this.
  • If this was aimed at appealing to young people who bully others, it won't. It's long, drawn-out and is basically preaching to the choir throughout most of the movie. So much of the "emotion" seems staged and forced, almost to the point of whoring out the people involved.

    Basically, this disjointed documentary follows the lives of a handful of families effected by bullying, all in backwoods towns. Never once do they show any factual statistics, nor do they have any experts giving opinions. It's very dry, and feels as dull as the dusty bible-belt towns they're filming in.

    If they really wanted to stop the bullying, then they'd:

    1. Make the film interesting. It really is not for 90% of the film, unless you find emotional hemorrhaging entertaining.

    2. Show hidden camera footage of what these kids really have to go through to burn it in the minds of the viewers. As it stands, you get little clips of kids being mean, but as someone who was bullied as a child quite often, I can tell you that what was shown is a watered down version that pales in comparison to what most kids go through.

    3. Give out statistics to show how the problem is significant and effects a large number of people. (it does)

    4. Get inside the psyche of not only the bullied, but the bullies themselves. To fix bullies, you first have to find the causes and how to motivate them to stop.

    5. Have experts give testimony as to how to solve the problems, and give advice on what works and doesn't work.

    As it stands, this film is emotional masturbation for the families victimized by bullying, and that doesn't serve any real purpose other than their own catharsis. If you show this to kids, they'll either roll their eyes or fall asleep. This film, if it was honestly aimed at starting some sort of movement, was a joke.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Many of the people who see this documentary seem to react strongly too it. In some in strikes chords about their own experiences while in many it elicits a response of "The responsibility for preventing this lies primarily within the child's (victim's) family." While that is the major factor in most cases, the first thing to keep in mind is that the film is reflecting upon and reporting on a phenomenon, is not the phenomenon itself. In general, it presents the wide gamut of responses to the problem and the different viewpoints, varying from suicide, fighting back, finding additional means of support. The film's strength lies in the fact that it provides no easy answers but instead of plethora of viewpoints and several examples of kids who dealt with the issue unsuccessfully to somewhat successfully.

    The central issue of the film is of course bullying. Most have encountered it, some have even been the bully and many feel that the only real means of combating the problem is from within the victim's family and instilling in him/her the necessity to fight back. The film makes it quite clear that the institution, other children or parents or even society as a whole is not particularly able or interested in dealing with the problem. On a larger scale, we often have environments where the contempt of people who are different is actually encouraged. In some states where a teacher can now not utter the word "gay," it is really hard for a child who is gay to seek assistance. An overarching theme throughout is that society as a whole actually promotes those who are aggressive and the subtext in the film is that school officials are often tacitly behind the abuse of kids who do not fit the mold or are completely inept in dealing with the situation, they themselves just cogs in a hierarchical machine.

    While it is true that the first and only real line of defense against bullying is from the victim's family, there are a few problems with the above 1) What happens if for whatever reason the parents do not provide the support that the child needs to stand up for himself? It is like the child of an alcoholic or an abused child or a child who arrives to school without being fed. Yes, it is the parent's failing. But failure to intervene can lead to grave circumstances later, including the death of the child or their inability to be a productive adult, an abuser themselves etc. 2) Bullying can be the traditional form, bigger kid beats up younger kid but these days it can take other forms, e.g. older boy attacks younger girl, institutional abuse where the teachers themselves join in the abuse, abuse by multiple attackers. In all of these scenarios, the "just smack 'em back" rule doesn't work. 3) If left unchecked, the result can be for the bullying victim to lash out and there can be real violence; many see the tragedy at Columbine as being in part due to an environment where bullying was not addressed (but this greatly simplifies the issue)

    The documentary also makes clear that the system is always ready to doll out the harshest punishments to the victims themselves. In the film, an African American girl almost goes to prison for brandishing a gun on a bus as a reaction to bullying, definitely a tragic and inappropriate response. But it's interesting that the same surveillance camera which caught her with the gun on the could "not possibly" be used to see the multiple attacks on her on the bus. In other instances, the harshest talking-to is reserved for the victim.

    It is also interesting to note that lip-service given by the administrators to the problem. Do they not care or are just unable to do anything? It is interesting to note, if, for example, one of the parents did a similar act to the school counselor, smashing his head against the wall etc., the police would be called and if there was physical evidence, there would be immediate arrests or sanctions. Yet when the exact same act is perpetrated on children by children, no one acts.

    The film is very good because it shows several different scenarios of bullying, from kids who committed suicide to those who are dealing with it. It is also of value in that perhaps it will encourage 1) Parent's to talk to their children about seeking aid/defending themselves 2) School districts to be more aware of what is going on, several have already enacted "zero tolerance" bullying policies and c) Perhaps some parents will ask their children how they are treating other children.

    Many will say, "bullying has always been there". Yes, but now it has become a social phenomenon. Is bullying worse? Is government/society emphasizing aggressiveness more through its policies? Whatever the reason, more kids are killing themselves over the issue now. As Malcolm Gladwell notes in his book The Tipping Point, certain conditions have to be present for an epidemic to occur. In the late 90's there was a rash of school shootings, including that at Colombine. In recent years, this phenomenon has occurred much less. Why? Perhaps because schools, students became aware that conditions had reached a critical level and became aware of signs. The same could be try of bullying. Perhaps the film can appeal to the one kid not getting the support from his parents or the bully or the one kid to reach out to the unpopular kid or the school administrator to change a culture of aggression that sanctions bullying. As cheesy as it sounds, even it it saves a few lives or makes it easier for a few kids, making the epidemic a non-epidemic, it will be worth it.
  • I left the theater thinking that although "Bully" tackles a very serious problem among young people in our society, it didn't tackle it as completely as it could and should have. The film did a good job of identifying the problem of schoolyard bullying and bring it to national attention, but at no point did it offer any suggestions about how the problem might be solved, and at no point did it show examples of the many school districts that are actively working to solve the problem. In that sense, "Bully" is a prime example of what's wrong with our society in general - it's very good at identifying problems, pointing fingers and assigning blame, but it's not at all good at proposing solutions.

    There is also a not so subtle political message - the film implies that bullying only occurs in Republican "Red" states such as Georgia, Oklahoma, Iowa and Mississippi. No examples of bullying are shown in San Francisco, New York or New England, although bullying undoubtedly occurs in those areas as well (as the Phoebe Prince incident in Massachusetts proves).

    In short, to use a cliché, the film "asks more questions than it answers" and is therefore not likely to bring about any real change.
  • Went to Bully, largely because there was nothing else playing that represented escapist fare, which I usually opt for. I am a therapist and mother of three and I certainly hear enough about Bullying to make me a steadfast believer that it is not only happening, but happening to MOST kids, regardless of who and what you are, you will be a target. I hear about it everyday and the central theme is-educators not only don't do anything about it-but heres the origin- the teachers are modeling it. They pick on certain kids, harass and joke about kids and even engage in screaming and name-calling, at least here in Fairfax County, Virginia. I think this is where it starts, as well as at home. Kids do NOT do these behaviors naturally. In small groups when it is structured to create emotional safety, kids work together well and are VERY tolerant of differences. It is when schools make everything a competition (and it is DOG eat DOG in our schools), and parents (lots of tiger moms and dads) do nothing but encourage kids to compete with other kids regardless of the price (some kids at our school are suicidal). This could be fixed but it requires a societal shift, electing Barack Obama is a great first step in this regard. Loved the movie, loved Alex-I want to know how he is doing?
  • Good pictorial of victimized kids in a slice of life film on the results of intense and unrelenting bullying, primarily in school and on school buses. As the film showed very well these kids being bullied, the results of bullying and the bullied kids' commentaries on the frustrations they felt about themselves and others as a result, it is a success. However, on the minus side, it gave no suggestions for solutions or possibilities for control, no statements of judgment regarding incompetence or inadequacy of school officials and parents toward ending the bullying, thus I became less involved as the film progressed, as there was no progress made toward anything other than progressively showcasing the bullied kids and what can result if nothing is done about it.

    A few things I saw that were consistent in the bullied boys were that all their fathers were nice, quiet and perhaps weak men who did not take any action themselves toward ending the bullying, but left it up to the mothers. The kids' mothers were shown to be much stronger than their fathers were in their attempts to protect their children. Pro-action by both parents must be undertaken immediately upon being informed of any bullying for best chances of ending the problem.

    Only one child, the boy from Iowa, had his back story examined in the least as to possible reasons behind his being bullied. He was born premature at 26 weeks and had unattractive facial features as a result, thus these were the obvious things other kids picked on. Nothing in the other bullied kids' pre-natal pasts were mentioned as possible reasons leading to their being bullied. I perceived this as imbalanced background research, and a failure of the film's intent. Perhaps there was nothing, but perhaps also there may have been drugs in the other parent's pasts, or genetic or mental illnesses, or whatever? Nothing was stated or explained so we were left in the dark to speculate. Kids typically pick on something mentally, physically or behaviorally "different" in those they bully, reasons for any of which should have been shown if known. My grammar school nurse required complete backgrounds of all student's health histories, thus school officials then could not claim ignorance if later bullying resulted. Why has all that changed?

    The school officials shown should be immediately terminated for their apathy and unconcern and "what can I do about it?" do-nothing approach to the problem. Also, the school bus scenes showed that adult supervision on board was nonexistent, with rampant rowdy student behavior constant and leading to obvious bullying situations. Wouldn't anyone seeing those scenes, even those moronic and lazy school officials, think something was wrong and needed immediate and serious correction?

    Overall, the film was a pretty good slice of life of this serious problem but a pretty bad suggester of possible solutions to it. No in-control schools or good parental examples were shown where bullying was not accepted and was non-existent due to immediate and pro-active parental and school responses to it, as it was in my school. As a result, I give this film a grade of "incomplete", and suggest that it take a make-up test(a sequel covering my above suggestions).
  • I agree much with another reviewer and had the same reaction. I wanted it to be a great movie so could recommend it everyone & maybe it would win the Oscar which would shed even more publicity/light on this very important subject. I can't and it probably won't even get nominated. While it had many emotional moments, as a whole it was kind of flat and jumped all over the place without any seeming purpose for the moves that made it difficult to follow. Very disappointed - but kudos for trying and for what was accomplished. To be fair, I do not see many documentaries, usually Michael Moore or nominated films. I guess my expectations were too high.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    This movie gives you an inside look on what goes on with children that are bullied and their family. You get to see that its not just the bullied that are effected, but their families too who have to deal with the aftermath and watch their child or sibling suffer through it. Even if you have no personal experience with this, like me, you will feel all of their emotions. I was angry, happy and sad at various points in the film.

    Spoiler: The Vice Principal was useless. She lives in a bubblegum world where a child can do no wrong. She forces a kid who is being bullied to shake hands with the bully, and tells him he is wrong for not wanting to. He then tells her of all the incidents that he reported about the bully, and she tells him if its reported then its been taken care of. Obviously not if it is still occurring. One child's parents tell her about the bullying occurring on the bus, after watching videos of it happen, and her response is that the kids on his bus are good as gold. All they do is talk and tell these parents kids will be kids, or let them work it out. No action is ever taken. They try to make it seem like the person who is being bully is doing something wrong. That is the main issue, no one with authority ever takes action until something extreme takes place.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    I heard about Bully much the same way everyone else did, the hoopla surrounding how important it was and how disturbing the content was. It was indeed one of the hardest things I've ever sat through. It is incredibly important that is for certain and it is so hard to watch but not just because of the content. I honestly feel that this film brings to light the issue of bullying in a number of ways but offers NO hope, NO solutions, NO resolutions, and leaves you with a desolate feeling of hopelessness. Worst of all, I personally felt that watching these kids get blamed for their own daily torture was sickening and downright disgusting and a form of bullying all in itself. I'm especially referring to the main story told of Alex. I felt like every single person who spoke to him, including his parents did nothing more than blame him and then on top of that the condescending tones and scolding from everyone would make him simply feel worse. And yet this documentary does not deal in any sort of facts. We don't see statistics, we don't see any resolution to any single one of the stories told. I honestly feel that in many ways this documentary was poorly put together. It is effective in showing what happens but not teaching anything about bullying. Its like creating a world war 2 documentary with people being shot and blown up for two hours and nothing else.

    The story of Alex broke my heart. That poor little boy touched me in such a way that I was angry and just so sad for him and what he is going through. And then when you think about how many others like him are out there, its overwhelming and completely depressing. The story told of Kelby was least effective in the film. She tells her story well but we never actually see any of the bigotry or bullying that she states is happening to her. Other than her testimony and that of her father's there is no actual footage of it happening. Furthermore, I was disgusted when her father says that he offered them all to move to a bigger place where she would be more easily accepted and not as outcasted and she refused because "then they win." Sorry, but that's the stupidest thing I've ever heard of. She's not being a martyr or a hero staying in a place where she is supposedly tortured day after day. I also felt like in cases like Ja'Maya and Tyler that I honestly believe that not enough was done to protect them. Same in the case of Alex. The adults all know what is going on but they essentially let it go on. Yes, the parents hold their town hall meeting or visit with school officials but with zero outcome. I understand they feel their hands are tied or they feel hopeless as well but step one to me would be REMOVE THOSE KIDS FROM THEIR SCHOOLS. Step two would be have parents on the buses, at the schools, and in those classrooms like martial law in the hallways. Yes, I know this seems unrealistic but so does poor innocent children being tortured.

    Bravo to director and documentary creator Lee Hirsch for bringing this revolting and disgusting crime to light. And also shame on Lee Hirsch for creating a documentary with no real facts, or figures, or solutions or anyone over the age of 15 who actually cares about these kids enough to go above and beyond and do something. The only thing I can hope is that the film somehow enrages someone enough to start their own protest or war against the bullies. While the film insists that it is a movie every kid needs to watch and I think the idea was to appeal to teenagers and kids who might be bullies themselves, I don't think that a teenager will even be phased by this. I'm not saying it wasn't a good documentary, it had its brilliance about it, but I am saying that I think it misses its mark and leaves you feeling hopeless, empty and depressed. I could never put a grade out of ten on this film. What you see is what you get certainly.
  • Directed by Lee Hirsch and written by Hirsch and Cynthia Lowen with a cast that is fascinating to watch, BULLY depicts the effects of bullying on the victims those that do the bullying and those that stand by and do nothing about it.

    The depictions are strong and hard. I would not characterize it as hard core, but it may be disturbing. The filmmakers have presented the audiences with a clear picture of what actually goes on every single day in a school anywhere in the U.S. (an the world). Young peoples' lives are changed forever form the effects of being bullied.

    Crediting the filmmakers is correct, but one also has to mention the tireless efforts of the man who made this movie come to light, and created the right public relations campaign that has intrigued so many. That man is Harvey Weinstein, and he is a champion of quality independent movies, documentary or fiction, that probably would not have seen the light of day (bad reviews, no advertising money, etc. if not for his efforts
  • In a world of competition one less competitor is a victory for the survivor. We know today that it is cooperation that brlngs about development amongst humans and not competition which only brings about degeneration and death. The American society that allows rich men to bully poor men to death is a society of apes, more or less. Actually it's worse than a society of apes. Competition is hailed because, like this film and other occurrences show, it keeps the poor fighting each other for the crumbs from the rich's table and keeps them from cooperating to get rid of the rich bullies. The American way of life is an abomination - get rid of it.
  • After all the resounding hoopla over the ridiculousness of the MPAA wanting to give "Bully" an "R" rating, some may have forgotten exactly what the purpose of this film was. The MPAA apparently has yet to realize it. It is to shine more light on one of the biggest issues in society today.

    Um, wait, no, not today. Bullying has always been an issue. Believe me, I know. But thanks to a school system increasingly filled with ignorance and indifference on children's well-being, parents not standing up for anyone but their own kid, the Internet and texting, bullying has gotten a little worse since when I was in high school. And now, it is taking lives.

    And still, very little seems to be getting done to help the situation. And that is what makes "Bully," what very well be one of the most important films you could see this year, so relentlessly difficult to watch, infuriating to comprehend and, yes, a little disappointing.

    As the film focuses on five kids who have deal with bullying or suffered the dire consequences of it, what makes this film somewhat disappointing is that the most important points it tries to make seem dramatized. Do we seriously witness bullying in action on that bus? If so, how was the camera hidden, or are these kids seriously that stupid as to act like assholes with a film crew around? Are we seriously witnessing a school administrator allowing a camera crew into a meeting with the parents of a bullied kid to hear her say that the kids on this kid's bus are angels? She knows, because she has ridden that bus and they were fine? Can a school administrator seriously be that thick? It's a bit of a tough pill to swallow as one doesn't want to think that people of any age could be this dumb. But...maybe they are.

    However, while there are the parts that will make you raise an eyebrow and scratch your head as you question their authenticity, the film will still manage to weigh heavily on your shoulders as you hear the stories of kids who deal with a crippling fear of going to school every day.

    This film sheds no light on a solution which will make our kids safer; it simply puts the problem in the spotlight. It spends little time talking to any actual bullies themselves or the parents that seem to let their children be shitheads. But by putting it out there for the world to see....to see the ambivalence of the school system and the lack of concern of parents of non-bullied kids...I know it made me wish I could do something. Anything. And I don't even have kids. But I want to sit down with every bullied kid in the world and not simply tell them it gets better, but to try to help them deal with the hell they are in now. A hell that even my own experience can't seem to compare to.

    As my friend Jane pointed out, to stop the problem, people have to start with themselves. And she couldn't be more right. We need to look at ourselves and see who we bully day to day. Figure out why our kids become bullies in the first place. However, we also have to look at why we allow it to happen and parents have to stop accepting their child being a bully or being bullied.. At the same time, schools have to take a major leap in taking responsibility of the situation and stop making excuses. Boys will NOT be boys. Parents, some of you have raised little assholes. Do something about it. If not, the school system should.

    When you hear the story of David and Tina Long, whose son took his own life at 17, or Kirk Smalley and his wife, whose son did the same at the age of 11 (yes...11), if your eyes don't well up, you might just be a failure as a human being. But seeing images of a candlelight vigil in honour of those who could not take it anymore, while touching, will not solve the problem. Society is the problem. The films shows that schools certainly do not help, and a change must be made, but the change has to start with people. Parents raising their kids better, and kids being able to speak out and be heard, knowing their voices will not be silenced. Until then, it's time for the administrators to take back control of their schools and the kids in their hallways. Protect them, listen to them, and do not tolerate the growing disrespect kids show for everything and everyone these days.

    We need to do something so films like this don't need to be made. In the case of "Bully," despite its imperfections, at least it sheds some emotional light on an issue that we do have the power to take control of.
  • The MPAA made the right decision when it assigned this film a rating of R. Bully not a movie appropriate for children.

    It's a movie about adults who put children's lives in danger.

    The filmmakers tell the stories of four young teenagers who have become the targets of school bullying. Throughout the film we feel a sense of empathy with these four children, all of whom are in difficult situations.

    But the real story is about the adults.

    Throughout the film, parents, school administrators, law enforcement officers, court personnel, and even the school bus driver all encounter children being bullied. Each adult reacts in a slightly different way. Unfortunately, none of their reactions seem particularly helpful or effective.

    I wouldn't recommend this movie to anyone who has been bullied, as the film could easily hit a raw nerve. Neither would I recommend Bully to earnest parents searching for solutions to the bullying problems in their communities, as he film offers no proper solutions.

    Bully should, however, be required viewing for school administrators, as it presents a textbook example of a terrible administrator. Kim Lockwood, the assistant principal of East Middle School of Sioux City, Iowa, makes herself the unwitting villain in this tale. The viewer comes away from the film with a sense that Ms. Lockwood is a danger to the children around her. Lockwood's school has a bullying problem, and she's so clueless about the lives of the children that she interrogates and berates the hapless victims of the bullying. She only shows skill when she is whitewashing the problem after parents complain. Lockwood comes across as cold, uncaring, calculating, and self-serving. And her victims are children, the very children at the school where she she is employed.

    Bully is a disturbing film. But bullying in America is a disturbing problem. As adults, do we have appropriate solutions? No. Will more awareness help? Maybe. But is this film hopeful or helpful? Not really.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Bully is another documentary film that comes from a negative and sad point of view. The parents are hurting and rightfully so, but all we get as a resolution from the filmmakers here is the group that's formed to "Stop Bullying". Yet another PSA. Isn't it obvious that if you write that phrase on the board and cross out "Stop", you're left with "Bullying". To rid you must replace. How about replacing with - "Start Friendship"; the opposite of the issue, the positive. Campaign for that. Again, with most doc films like we have here, it's got to be a negative pov or nothing at all. No answers and no real resolution. Just the heart break moments. Voyeurs we've become.

    With all the shootings and everything else negative we hear about, all we can seem to do is wear colored bands and have our hands held by the powers that be; the powers who do absolutely nothing for prevention. Someone shoots up a school and we bow our heads (and then politik about gun control). Someone smacks a kid on a bus and we slap their wrist. How about - one smack equals one paddle. 'No way' you say in our modernized, everyone-wins-bubble-school-society. Where are the nuns when we need them most? Bully doesn't get to the tough questions, I believe. Questions like why is there no real discipline in schools - or at least the school they feature in this documentary. And is there a big empty gap now that we have women virtually running the entire school system and driving the school buses - and no men around other than the janitors? What happened to role models and discipline? What happened to someone a boy can respect? When the elder school lady sat the boys down and scolded them with talk about their negative records, I thought I might fall out of my chair. Ewwwww.....the 'ol negative records talk. C'mon, people, really? Kids aren't taking punches any more. Kids are insulating. Is it because of the people they're supposed to look up to for support - that they aren't that great to look up to in the first place? That kids see them cower on a daily basis and think - what does it matter anyways? One of the main featured kids here said exactly that - that he told the lady his head was crushed and she did nothing about it. And he was right. But no one listened even when he said it to their face. What did the lady do other than defend herself against him with her lame responses? Who's the real Bully here...

    The parents in Bully can only do so much when the school system gives up on kids as a whole. Data replacing everything that's true to heart. What good is it to hire back slappers and bake sale organizers when kids really need the Terminator. Think about it.

    It's hard to talk though, about the real issues going on. Issues like gender politics. Issues like dealing with things the right way; by replacing them or fighting fire with fire if they scale out of control. For Heavens sake, the only kid interviewed here who wasn't bullied had stood up for himself against the so called bullies - and he was left alone. And he earned respect. How do you not follow that kid's example. He solved half your problem. Learning to take a punch isn't bad when you're taught how to deliver one back. Take the punch if necessary and learn to strike. Once you're eighteen, kid, you'll need to know this or you'll get eaten up in the real world. The real world is no bubble.

    But we weep and we bleed and it happens again. And it get's worse until people say no more and get mad. When they quit accepting hugs from the superintendents and the higher ups. When they start to Bully ti gets better. I'm thinking the documentary "Start Friendship" won't be coming out anytime soon.
  • --- As a retired law enforcement officer I literally shook with a rage and a fury I haven't felt since I retired while watching this documentary. The problem I saw in these schools was school officials who were more interested in whining about the issue and hoping it would go away on its own rather than becoming pro-active in dealing with it. You start anti-bullying programs in the schools, counseling for victims, a zero tolerance policy and mandatory penalties toward bulling, group sessions with accused kids about what harm they are inflicting, get the PTA involved, require REQUIRE all parents to attend a meeting at the start of school years at which the school's zero tolerance policy and penalties are explained and if they do not attend then their kids do not start school just like vaccination policies. Instead these so called leaders were not really doing much of anything other than trying to defend their zero action response to bullying. --- The documentary makers did a good job in showing the problem and then left the rest up to others. I think they should have maybe spent a bit more time in being a resource about what can be done to deal with the problems rather than just showing it. I also know that I would have been interested to learn a little more about what happened to the kids involved. Though I give credit to the makers for taking a hidden issue and shining the light of day on it.
  • I went to a free screening of this movie and I walked out feeling guilty that I hadn't paid to see it, it's an extremely important and relevant story that all parents, teachers, principals, kids and pretty much everyone should see, in my opinion it should be compulsory viewing in high school, particularly in Australia where school bullying is indeed a big problem.

    The film is presented as a fly on the wall documentary, it follows about 6 different families and their experiences with bullying, all of these stories are equally important, however I have to say I found the story if Alex an absolutely heartbreaking thing to watch. Here is this kid who is a little strange and different, and so automatically people thunk they can treat him badly, it's just disgusting how this poor kid is treated by the students and the teachers who ignore the problem. I had goosebumps and was crying through much of this film, it really is heartbreaking. One thing that really impressed me about the film was that the filmmakers didn't shy away from presenting it how it is, and I'm glad they had the guts to show the problem in a realistic way, and not get too preachy, considering this film is from America I thought it would be full of religious propaganda but thankfully it wasn't.

    The principal in alex's story should be ashamed of herself, I don't know how these people get these jobs, her screen time is minimal but it was enough to make you realize that the school system is ridiculous and the staff they hire are incompetent.

    This really is a hard film to review, it really just needs to be seen, I strongly advise everyone to watch it, I'd you can't get through it unmoved, you mustn't have a soul.

    Let's stand up for these kids!!!!!!
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Bully Directed by Lee Hirsch

    Bully is a documentary with human drama in every frame. It captures the lives of five children, two of whom were so depressed by their sense of helplessness that they committed suicide. Each story held up a mirror of our culture; our discomfort and abuse of gays; our punishment of people who fall outside the normal in large or small ways. One girl in a small Mississippi town broke down, took a gun and held her classmates captive in their school bus and ended up in jail and psychiatric facilities for two years. The portraits of the families are touching. They cared and tried to help their children. They sought help from the schools and other authorities and were met with excuses and indifference. One can only conclude that bullying is so common and is basically tolerated that the sense of outrage is dulled. The school bus provides a theater of cruelty and a chorus of children hang over their seats and watch intently and even cheer the bully. No one steps in.

    The film makes clear that bullying impairs the victim's ability to report it or protest. They fear things will get worse if they draw attention to the acts or that they will cause their parents more pain if they talk about it. Thus even the victim is drawn into the conspiracy that allows bullying to go on.

    I saw this film with an audience of middle-school and high school students. At several points they groaned when adults denied the truth of the complaints, but on the whole they were silent and attentive. They clearly 'got" it. This reinforces the value of the P13 rating which was granted after being denied. Kids need to see this film and so do the rest of us.

    There are ways to combat bullying shown in the film. But the best way will be to wake up to the danger and be active when we can. Lee Hirsch has given us a gift and I bless the Sioux City School system for allowing this film to be shot in their schools. And the parents who allowed their children to be filmed. It is hard to deny the problem after seeing this film.
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