Bully | Teen Ink


May 3, 2012
By zandragrey GOLD, Newton, Massachusetts
zandragrey GOLD, Newton, Massachusetts
13 articles 8 photos 42 comments

Favorite Quote:
If you can laugh at it, you can live with it. ~Erma Bombeck

The movie Bully tries to be gritty and realistic, but its one-sided storytelling and amateurish camera work are jarring. The stories are of the shock and awe variety and easily pull your heartstrings, but I'm not sure this is a point in the movie's favor. I admit to tearing up over the funeral of a bullied eleven year old who had committed suicide when they showed his best friend helping to carry the coffin, but the movie itself falls short of its potential.

Bully, directed and filmed by Lee Hirsch, markets itself as "offering an intimate, unflinching look at how bullying has touched five kids and their families" according to its website. This is undeniably true. I found myself feeling for the victims, especially when it seems as if even their support systems have turned against them.

There is one memorable scene where Alex, a victim, is talking to the vice principal of his school about ongoing bullying on the bus he rides every day. The vice principal asks him if he trusts her to do something about the bullying and he basically says no, saying that he's told her about other bullying incidents and she's done nothing. She then goes on to ask him if the bully has done that specific type of bullying again, to which he grudgingly admits he hadn't. Boos were heard from the audience when she responded rather smugly that she had taken care of that problem then, hadn't she? This is where I have problems with this movie. This scene is heartbreaking, but very one sided.

I wanted to hear the vice principal's side to things, or even the bully's side. I wanted to see more than just the five "stars" of the movie getting bullied in school and out of it. Because of this I think that the draw of this film isn't the documentary itself, but the discussions it can prompt. I saw it with a group of my peers at the behest of our local librarian who wanted real teens' reactions to the movie. We ended up talking for over three hours afterwards, discussing everything from personal bullying experiences to the need for a more comprehensive anti bulling campaign nationwide.

If this isn't much of a review you can blame it on the fact that I don't think Bully was much of a movie. It serves purpose as a discussion tool and therefore I highly recommend rounding up your friends and going to see it together so you can rail at the world to each other afterwards, rather than watching it by yourself.

The author's comments:
I hesitate to say I "liked" the movie, but it was thought-provoking.

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