Saturday, May 12, 2012

At the Movies: 'Bully' Needs a Dose of Rage

I wish Lee Hirsch's "Bully" was a better movie than it is because it is important. It left me wanting something more substantial, broader, angrier and far more professionally photographed than this predictable, understated documentary.

This is the story of five young people who are victims of bullies. They are almost all from rural Southern or Southwestern settings and none is from an urban school (unless you consider Sioux City urban). Their stories are familiar, sad and full of helplessness.

In these scenarios, without exception, we see unconcerned or criminally ignorant school officials, disassociated parents, monster kids and victim kids. This is the movie that caused such a stir because its language was blunt and forceful, as it should be. It was apparently toned down so kids--the important audience for "Bully" could see it. The theater was full tonight and it was about half kids. It was, unfortunately, being shown in the screening room at the Grandin Theatre, but my guess is it will move to bigger quarters pretty soon.

There is little in the way of rage generated within or by this movie. It is far more passive than I would have liked and I left with no feeling that I need to hunker down and do something substantial. That's the purpose of a movie like this. And it flat misses.


  1. Hey Dan. Your review seems to be in line with others I've read. It's a shame that it couldn't have made a bigger impact because it's one of the biggest issues children face. I have 2 sons, 4mo and a 7yr old so it means a lot to me. I'm from your area and I write a movie review blog. I'm just curious when/where you got a chance to see the movie?

    FYI via Michael Hudson led me to your page.

    Mine is

  2. Dusty: We have an art house here called the Grandin Theatre, which shows movies like this. It is the only place in this region where you can regularly see documentaries, Indy movies and foreign films. I saw it there.

    1. I'm very familiar with The Grandin. I just didn't realize that Bully was screening nationally already. It seems like just a week ago that the MPAA caved in and gave it a R rating. Thanks for the reply.