Movie Review: Bully (2012)
Review by Variety
Lee Hirsch’s “The Bully Project” serves as a call to action against abuse of students by their peers as it follows, over the course of a year, five sobering case histories of unrelenting schoolyard persecution. Crosscutting among the stories, Hirsch supplies little discussion of the whys, wherefores or history of the phenomenon, but rather concentrates on the kids, parents and school officials directly involved. Timely subject matter should generate buzz for this Weinstein Co. pickup, which is slated for municipal/educational showings and also figures to translate well to the smallscreen.
Docu reveals that more than 18 million American kids a year are affected by bullying, with some driven to suicide — including two of the cases profiled here. The five studies represented in the film show different types of situations, reactions and (perhaps) resolutions to an endemic problem.
By the time Hirsch catches up with scholarly, quiet 14-year-old Ja’meya, she is in a reformatory facing 22 felony counts for drawing a gun on fellow school bus riders who had been tormenting her for years.
Review by Common Sense
Parents need to know that Bully is a no-holds-barred documentary that intimately portrays bullying victims’ daily lives. While it’s often heartbreaking and deals with tough issues like suicide, the movie addresses an incredibly important, timely topic — bullying — in a frank, relatable way that’s age appropriate for teens and relevant for middle schoolers if an adult is present to guide discussion. Bully‘s strong language (including a brutal, profanity-laden scene in which one boy says to another that he’ll “shove a broomstick up your a–” and “cut your face off and s–t”) earned it an R rating, but none of the swearing is gratuitous. Like it or not, it’s a realistic portrayal of what every middle schooler and older hears every day. This gives the film veracity and credibility with kids, and it will justifiably shock parents.
Review by Playbackstl
Dick Kucera was a hard-living, hard-partying kind of guy whose charm eased his way through a life that, while undeniably enjoyable from his point of view, also left a trail of bankruptcies and broken families in his wake. Now 68 and in a 12-step program, he’s attempting to leave Despicable Dick behind and become Righteous Richard. He’s currently working on steps 8 and 9, which require him to make a list of the people he has harmed and make amends to them. So he sets off on a cross-country journey, chronicled in Despicable Dick and Righteous Richard (dir. Joshua Neale), to meet with friends and relatives and business associates and anyone else he can think of whom he has wronged in the past. It’s a long list, and some of these folks are understandably less than convinced by Richard’s shiny new self and wonder aloud if this isn’t just one more con from a man they’ve learned does not deserve their trust.
They’re not entirely wrong to be suspicious; there’s something about Dick/Richard that makes the female sex in particular vulnerable to his sweet-talking charms, and he still considers himself the center of the universe with an absolute right to have his needs met. Despicable Dick and Righteous Richard can be absolutely hilarious, particularly when Richard is apologizing for Dick’s past sins (no garden variety sins, they run to things like “I’m sorry I took a shot at your wife” and “I’m sorry I locked you out of the house naked in the wintertime”) or behaving outrageously, yet showing surprise when others become upset.