Bully (2011) | Movie Review

I saw two movies this weekend, back to back. One was The Cabin in the Woods, and the other was Bully. Of the two Bully was the bigger horror movie, so I’m writing a review of that first. Going into the movie, I didn’t expect to have too much sympathy, because I am part of generation X. We were the last to come through pre- “cyber-bullying”. In my day (hold on while I go shake my cane at the kids on my lawn), bullying meant someone or a group of people were literally kicking your @$$ on a daily basis.
When I first heard about cyber-bullying I really thought that it wasn’t real bullying because my mental picture of it was that it was all about people saying mean things on Facebook. You can block and “unfriend” people on Facebook, which you cannot do in real life when someone is beating your face in while calling you a loser/nerd/geek/dweeb/reject etc. Then I became a little more educated about the extent of cyber bullying.
I read about a girl who created a website using her target’s name and “c*nt.com” at the end. Students have also used Photoshop to depict their fellow students in compromising positions. Then there are the camera phone recordings of fights. I mean sure my generation had to endure bullying and fighting, but I guess we are lucky we don’t have to relive an @$$ kicking on video. Even worse what if it goes viral? Now hundred’s of thousands of people have now seen you get your @$$ kicked, and then they can visit the website your classmate made called yournameisaloser.com, where they can see pictures of your face Photoshopped into a donkey show. Yeah, I’ll take old-fashioned bullying for 100 Alex.
With that said, let’s get to the movie. First of all it didn’t feature ANYTHING about cyber bullying. At first I thought wow, good old-fashioned bullying still exists, but then I became infuriated at the complete incompetence of the school administrators. At a point during the filming, a child was being attacked so badly that the film crew felt that they had to show the footage they had to the parents of the child being hurt and the school administrators.
In the footage, which was taken on the bus a child with a slight developmental disability is seen being choked and then stabbed with a pencil and having his head rammed into seats. Of course the parents of the child are upset and meet with the administrator, who we are to believe has viewed the footage. She insists that the kids are as good as gold and then commences to do nothing. Another administrator is shown questioning the bullies, asking them if they hit the other student. If the administrators have seen the footage, why do they need to ask what the kids did? It was recorded. Secondly if an adult walked over to another adult and started choking them, or stabbing them with an object they would likely be arrested, maybe even sued in civil court for damages. Why would this behavior be acceptable for kids?
Kids tease each other. They will always tease and call each other four-eyes, buck tooth etc. In my opinion being teased builds character and helps kids become tough and resilient. However there is a difference between being teased, and being bullied. Children should feel safe at school. Children should also be disciplined. It seems that the administrators are just baby sitters. I would go into the all the other ways in which the main administrator in this film makes you want to choke her and stab her with pencils, but apparently some one beat me to the punch and created a blog devoted to hating her. Does that qualify as cyber bullying?
They say that this is a film that every child needs to see. Why? It’s just going to teach them that they can torment a classmate until they commit suicide (as two of the subjects of this film did) and face no consequences at all. It will also teach them that if they are brutally attacked, or harassed with homophobic or racist taunts that the school officials will use cheap psychology and ask them “How does that make you feel?” Really? This movie helps no one. It offers no insight into why bullies bully, has no statistics, no psychologists talking about either the psyche of the bully or bullied. There are no lawyers or representatives from the school system talking about rules or laws. It’s a very poor excuse for a documentary in which they filmed for a year.
This movie was filmed so poorly! The camera goes in and out of focus, while simultaneously looking like it was shot by a person with both Parkinson’s and Tourette’s having an epileptic seizure, during an earthquake, while sitting on a washing machine during spin cycle. (Camera person from Hunger Games is that you?) I have shot steadier footage with my camera phone on a thrill ride at Universal Studios. Worst of all there is no follow-up. It should have at least ended with updates about all of the people featured a year later, or maybe I watch too much Intervention and just expect there to be a black screen with an epilogue, with good or bad news.

2 thoughts on “Bully (2011) | Movie Review

  1. Having been bullied through the majority of my childhood, I could relate to Alex when he said that he didn't feel anything anymore. Sometimes it's a coping mechanism because a bullied child knows that they must present a hardened exterior. The worst thing you could do is cry in front of a bully. However I do agree that it is a warning sign, but I lean more toward self harm like cutting or suicidal tendencies.

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  2. I love your review of this movie, and your comments about the filmed incident on the bus and the administrators. Did only The Parents see the footage and no one else? There were many times the film could have put focus on the bullies but no. There is a point when Alex(The kid being stabbed on the bus) tells his mom he doesn't feel anything anymore. That is a HUGE warning sign. It says this kid is so depressed not only does he not care about his life, he may not care about the lives of others too If anything the movie show you the victims rather than the victors. Nice Job!!!

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