Movie Review: Bully

Posted: April 15, 2012 in movie reviews, movies

I knew Bully was going to be a hard movie to watch. But to say that I was not prepared for the emotional toll it would take on me would be an understatement. From the first frame of the distraught father with red, teary eyes, I knew this wasn’t going to be easy.

 the bully project movie poster 2


Bully, is a movie/documentary that needed to be made. It’s a movie that should have been made a long time ago. And its movie that should be remade over and over and over again until kids people stop dying. Yes, it got a lot of publicity due to the ratings war it the producers had with the MPAA, and honestly, I think it was one of the best things that could have happened to this movie. It’s a movie that needs to be seen by parents, school officials, community leaders, authority figures, kids, and people contemplating having children. Many people are quick to think of bullying as a “fact of life,” but it doesn’t have to be that way.

To say that every kid/person at one time or another was bullied would be incorrect. There is teasing, there are hurtful, degrading comments, which can all be a form of bullying. But then there is the kind of bullying that becomes so insufferable, malicious, and evil it leaves the person being bullied feeling like they have very little ways out. There’s only some many people you can tell – who do nothing – until you’re forced to look for other ways to make the pain stop.

Bully follows the story of 5 kids: Tyler Long, Ty Smalley, Kelby Johnson, Ja’Meya Jackson, and Alex Libby. Both Tyler Long and Ty Smalley, ages 17 and 11 repectively, committed suicide from being bullied so bad, Kelby Johnson, 16, was finally forced to change schools after she came out as a lesbian. She not only was ostracized by her classmates, but by adults too who felt the need to force their personal views, aggressively, on her and her family. Ja’Meya Jackson was bullied to the brink of pulling a gun on her classmates in order to make it all stop. Her story takes place in the juvenile system. And finally Alex Libby, the teen we spend the most time with. Alex almost didn’t make it into the world when he was born at 26 weeks….14 weeks premature. He is teased restlessly by his fellow school mates because he looks and acts different.

Following all these stories is heartbreaking, especially when the adults do NOTHING. They come off as mindless, selfish, brainless, people who are just too apathetic about the situation to do anything about it. Their mentality is “it’s not going to change.” There were many times I wanted to yell at the screen at those stupid school officials.  The ignorance is unbelievable!. For example, this one idiotic principal kept saying she couldn’t do anything about bullying. You’re the principal for crying out loud, if you can’t do it, who can? Talk to the kids parents, talk to the kids. Suspend, expel, or kick those kids out. Pun.ish. Them. Don’t just force the kids to shake hands then scold the kid being bullied because he won’t “make nice” with his attacker. Like Tyler Long’s mother said in a school board meeting, parents protect their children at home and when they send them off to school they’re not only expecting their child to get an education, they’re expecting their child to be cared for and protected when the parents can’t be there. And the amazing thing about all this (amazing in an unbelievable way) is that these adults are real people. This is not scripted or fiction, its’ real life. There are real people out there ignoring the bulling, the beating, the relentless teasing of other people’s children. To quote Real World, this is what happens when people start “getting real”.

Bully is a must-see movie, but it’s not something to be taken lightly. By no means is it a great film, the camera work was a little distracting and I wish the documentary explored other regions of these kids’ lives, but nonetheless, it’s something you, me, everyone must see. Because despite everything else, it’s a topic that cannot, and should not be ignored. If you ignore it, than other people will too.


Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

(warning, bring tissues!)






  1. mmonty86 says:

    Great write up. I look forward to seeing how schools approach Bully and showing it. As a minor note, I’m glad there’s somebody else out there who noticed Hirsch’s weird camera work (e.g. the constant focus issues).

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