Sunday, April 22, 2012

Stand For The Silent: Our Review of "Bully" (2011)

Directed By: Lee Hirsch

Rating: PG-13 for intense thematic material, disturbing content, and some strong language - all involving kids (edited for re-rating)

Synopsis (to better serve our readers, this synopsis comes directly from the director of the film via Bully's IMDb page): This year, over 13 million American kids will be bullied at school, online, on the bus, at home, through their cell phones and on the streets of their towns, making it the most common form of violence young people in this country experience. BULLY is the first feature documentary film to show how we've all been affected by bullying, whether we've been victims, perpetrators or stood silent witness. The world we inhabit as adults begins on the playground. BULLY opens on the first day of school. For the more than 13 million kids who'll be bullied this year in the United States, it's a day filled with more anxiety and foreboding than excitement. As the sun rises and school busses across the country overflow with backpacks, brass instruments and the rambunctious sounds of raging hormones, this is a ride into the unknown. For a lot of kids, the only thing that's certain is that this year...


Andrew: Hello readers! Sorry that we didn't post a weekly preview this week, as Sarah mentioned in a brief post yesterday, we have company visiting this weekend and we were unable to do the preview. HOWEVER, we WERE able to get to the theatres to catch a movie we have been meaning to see for a few weeks now - the much-talked-about documentary Bully.

The controversy surrounding the content and rating of the film have been talked about for a few months now and has been making splashes both in the entertainment industry as well as the national government. And from what we saw this weekend, it was for good reason, wasn't it Sarah?

Sarah: Yes. I would have to say, this movie really bothered me. It was so in your face and blunt about this problem that has really been a big problem for years. Now that it has been brought into the light, I think that it really will be addressed more readily. What did you think?

A: I completely agree with you. The trailer bugged me when we first saw it, but that was nothing compared to the movie in its entirety. The documentary follows the stories of 5 different families who are experiencing different facets of bullying: one family deals with their 12-year-old son being socially awkward and looking different because he was born 14 weeks premature, another with a lesbian daughter in an intolerant Oklahoma town, a young girl in Georgia facing criminal charges for bringing a gun on to a school bus because she wanted to scare her bullies, and two separate families who lost a child to suicide (one a 17-year-old teen and another a 11-year-old boy).

All of these together just have a cumulative effect that REALLY got to me. The different WAYS these kids were being bullied and WHY. The areas they come from, the parents and siblings they have who support them, the school systems that DON''s such an eye-opening film.

S: The fact that these school systems and faculty did NOTHING or said that these boys killed themselves because of something other than bullying and that one representative even alluded to the parents being the cause of the deaths. I think what made it so sad is that it has to get to this point before we take a stand. 

There is one scene that is so disturbing - it's at the 11-year-old’s funeral and his best friend, also 11, is one of the pallbearers. It literally broke my heart. This movie really isn't for the feint of heart. You will cry and it will make you reevaluate where you stand on a lot of issues.

A: The scene you just mentioned with the friend of the 11-year-old boy killed me, too. Even more specifically, after that where the same boy is showing the filmmakers where the two boys' "secret hideout" was and is reminiscing about hunting rabbits...then a rabbit shows up and you see the friend stand up, smile and say "Ty and I would've been all over that" just floored me.

Now, some critics might say this movie is manipulative in showing all these emotional things to get the impact and reactions they want out of the viewer, but that's entirely the point. And it's not like they're manipulating the people they're filming - these are genuine reactions and emotions and conversations. It's all just naturally sad because of the content it deals with.

S: Yea I would have to say that the whole movie was remarkably sad. But it really is a movie that EVERYONE needs to see. I believe this will be a movie that will be shown in schools for years to come because it really needs to be seen by children. In the end, it's true; kids are going to roll there eyes when they are told that they need to be nicer. But if they see that children are dying because of bullying I think that they will get the message. 

Kids go through so much in their adolescence, why do they need to worry about being bullied too? It really isn't fair. If everyone just takes a stand, it will really make a difference.

A: And we should mention that there WERE kids in the theatre when we saw this. I'm very happy that their parents brought them to see it. And I agree 100%, this film is one that needs to be shown in schools every year, especially somewhere near the 5th or 6th grade when kids are just starting middle school. Would it be tough for them to watch and could their interest wane? Maybe, but they're also more impressionable at that age and are about to enter the world where it's going to get even worse.

Honestly, Bully is sad, infuriating, educational and inspirational. The last part of the film when the family of one of the boys that committed suicide starts a campaign to end bullying was so great. And some of the families that the film followed ended up crossing paths through the nature of the subject! It was truly something to watch. I'm glad we saw it, and I will never forget the name of Kim Lockwood, an assistant principal at Sioux City East Middle School, because she was absolutely pathetic in her response the bullying. I hope she lost her job because of this. She should be ashamed of how she came off in this film.

S: There are several adults in this movie that should be ashamed of themselves. I hope that people watch this movie and realize that they can make a difference in this world, whether it be bad or good. We can only hope to make a difference for the better. 

If you haven't already seen this movie, you really need to. While it did really bother me, it should. Go into this one with tissues and an open mind.

(Out of Five clapboards)
Extra: Please check out the website for Stand For The Silent, a movement shown in the film to fight against bullying.

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