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Bang Bang You're Dead
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Reviews & Ratings for
Bang Bang You're Dead More at IMDbPro »

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45 out of 48 people found the following review useful:

Wonderfully compelling

8/10
Author: Brian Judd (brianmjudd@hotmail.com) from Seattle, Wa
19 June 2002

I just saw this movie at the Seattle International Film Festival. This wonderful film honestly explores the factors that lead teenagers to become violent. Seeing the experience of high school culture through Trevor's eyes really makes you understand what could bring a teenager to kill his/her classmates. This film vividly portrays how high school culture has gotten out of hand during the past 20 years, and also shows how complex the problem is. The blame is never placed entirely on one party (i.e. the parent, school administrators, fellow classmates). Instead, the film remains honest to subject matter, and does not provide any easy answers or solutions.

Is this movie unsettling? Yes. Brilliantly executed? Yes. Exploitative and simplistic? No. This is a film that should be seen in every high school classroom, every faculty meeting, and every home.

On a side note, the acting was fantastic by everyone involved. Most notable was Ben Foster, who portrays Trevor with both brutal honesty and heartfelt compassion. He is one to keep on eye on in the future.

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47 out of 52 people found the following review useful:

one last shot

Author: soaringhorse
12 November 2004

It's great to see a movie you think is going to be just awful ... and then is anything but.

The film amazed me by taking the issues of high school kids seriously, even those of kids who are about to commit the worst carnage imaginable. One of the best ways of perpetuating a problem is turning those affected by it and those who do bad things into angels and devils. Bang, Bang, You're Dead rejects this out of hand and gives everything a shade of grey, yet moves back, forgivably, from the logical climax to make a point about the theatricality of school life, much like the play on which it is sort-of-based.

It takes troubled kids out to kill seriously, gives them respect and tries to talk to them - and lets them talk, a lot. It is also a genuine drama, and takes no prisoners when it comes to depicting adult hypocrisy and aloofness. That's pretty subversive. Put it all together and you have a ready-made whipping boy for America's right wing. Yet it is this film that anybody who gives a damn about this kind of situation must see.

This makes it sound like a 1950s advisory film where parents and kids would watch what horrible consequences befell reckless teenagers. But it's much more than that: it's a cunning advisory film for everyone. Nobody comes out clean, but everybody is given the chance to become clean again.

The MPAA gave this an R rating, which is further proof that this pathetic star chamber of industry insiders ought to be disbanded.

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37 out of 39 people found the following review useful:

Shining A Light Into A Dark Corner

Author: Lechuguilla from Dallas, Texas
5 September 2005

Most films seek to entertain. This one seeks to educate. The subject here is education itself, specifically American high schools, with their exclusionary social cliques, peer pressure, disgusting hierarchical caste systems, and the inevitable toll that these harsh realities take on students, in the form of depression, anger, and violence.

The film is fictional, but it presents truths that exist most everywhere, to varying degrees. The message could hardly be clearer or more timely. And that message is that for kids, high school functions as an emotional and psychological ... trap.

But if high school is a trap for kids, it's a source of income for teachers and administrators, some of whom thus have selfish motives for preserving the status quo. And for parents, their kid's high school is useful to gauge their parenting skills which they hope will lead to a sense of pride of accomplishment ... for themselves.

In no part of high school life is this pressure more apparent than in school sports, and the film rightly zeros in on this culture. For boys, athletic accomplishment or non-accomplishment is the main, perhaps only, criterion by which they are judged and stamped, and sent on their way to fend for themselves in a society that demands competitive performance.

"Bang, Bang, You're Dead" is a clear, compelling story that shines a needed light into a dark corner of American society. The film should be required viewing for teachers, administrators, and parents. But it won't be required viewing, because a lot of adults would just as soon keep that light turned off.

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30 out of 34 people found the following review useful:

Immensely true to life.

10/10
Author: Wynne (Wynne@comcast.net) from USA
9 July 2003

I went back and watched this movie again, and it struck me all over just how real it feels. The performances are so perfectly spot-on that you could swear you know these people--what could have been a string of cliches or platitudes was instead carefully detailed to look like real life. I've rarely seen anything in the theater or on television that struck so very close to home. What makes it all so effective is that absolutely no one comes across as unsympathetic--not the jocks, not the outcasts, not the parents, not the teachers, not anyone. The casting was that sublime. The mains among the young cast are the most impressive group of actors and actresses I've seen in my generation. The older members of the cast are so good I can't believe I hadn't seen them somewhere before. Even the minor characters make an impression and have a bit of flesh to them. You may not like some of these people, you may be angry at them, but you will see where they went astray and understand. No one seems entirely wrong or right, and that's what makes it so unrelentingly human.

Despite having been a girl and not facing many of the physical tortures portrayed in the film, the sense of humiliation and utter isolation resonates very closely with my own grade school experience. If you weren't ever in that place, if you were popular or normal in school, you may watch this film and think the suffering within was exaggerated, that no one really goes through that... let me tell you, it's not an exaggeration. You may feel like it's normal for kids to get teased, and maybe it is... but there's a tremendous difference between getting teased by your friends and getting messed with because you're regarded by the general population as a thing. You can't make friends when everyone is afraid that hanging around you will cause them to be exposed to the kind of ridicule and torment that you're going through. You have no one to tell, your parents don't understand, you are completely alone in your world, and it feels like that will never change. Every moment of every day is spent waiting for the next gallon of gasoline to be thrown on the flames of your living hell. No, it doesn't look that bad when you're on the outside... it's just somebody getting shoved or laughed at or whispered about. But when it's you actually going through it, you end up either wanting to die or wanting to kill someone. That's exactly what this movie addresses--what leads a young person to that place. If everyone around refuses to empathize and understand, tragedy is the almost inevitable result.

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29 out of 38 people found the following review useful:

great movie on high school violence...

10/10
Author: krazziejen89 from cerritos, CA
2 October 2004

well i watched this movie during summer school for my health class and i thought this movie was the best movie i've seen about high school violence.. i know how it feels to be picked on i've been through that but because my school has so many teachers around i don't see many people hurting other people but there are some people who say stuff to you and it hurts and i've been through that too.. it sucks to be different everything stays with you all that anger all that sadness you just want to let it out some how especially on the people who are causing the problem.... this movie really describes how many teenagers feel who is just trying to find themselves and trying to deal with there daily life of hell from the jocks.. well i give my props to this movie its one of the best of seen for a movie that was on television if you haven't seen this movie yet you really got to check it out..

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12 out of 12 people found the following review useful:

Hard Hitting, Intense Film

8/10
Author: mwendel (mr.michael.wendel@gmail.com) from Kings Park, NY
13 January 2004

This film tackles the eternal issue of growing up a teenager and the extreme reactionary responses we see growing at an alarming rate in our contemporary times. Some of the events in this movie could easily have been plucked from the headlines of the newspapers in recent years. It does an excellent job of tacking the touch issues of adolescence, guns in schools, and school administrators being completely oblivious to what is really going on in their hallways.

With an intense lead performance by Ben Foster, as the singled out teen, and Thomas Cavanagh, as the teacher trying to get through to both the school administration and its students, the story propels you through a whirlwind series of events over the course of a school year. The theme of the story is very dark and powerful painting a picture of the worst case possible scenario public school; which in my opinion may be closer to the truth then people want to really admit, making the story that much more believable.

I really feel that this is a film to be watched and appreciated because, unless you're in total denial, it's going to make you think more about the ideas and issues that inspired it. This is a movie for all to watch. Everybody goes to high school.

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15 out of 18 people found the following review useful:

A gritty meditation on teen violence that pulls no punches

9/10
Author: Jaimzay from Atlanta, GA
17 October 2002

This movie feels like an after school special with teeth. While that may not sound like a compliment, it's good to see a film that has both its heart and its head in the right place: the message of the movie is worthwhile and the delivery of that message doesn't downplay the complexity of all the issues at hand. Doing both of those things and making the film watchable is a rare feat; doing both of those things and making it compelling is a small miracle.

The threat of violence hangs over every scene like a storm cloud. As we watch Trevor (Ben Foster in an amazing standout performance), an "at risk" kid, do what he has to to survive the rigors of daily life as an outsider, we are pulled into the pain of knowing that you don't belong. Several films (the entire John Hughes teen catalog comes to mind) turn outsiders into wretchedly noble characters and their popular and good-looking enemies into wicked brats with inferiority complexes. This one doesn't. It goes right to the root of Trevor's anger and shows how indignation and observation turn into a very rational and almost justifiable form of evil.

Can art redeem him? His do-gooder teacher Val Duncan (Tom Cavanagh, earning his acting chops here after showing his charm in "Ed") certainly hopes so. He casts Trevor for the lead part in the school play he is producing because he is perfect for it. This causes a stir among the student body, the faculty, Trevor's parents, and even within Trevor himself. You get the feeling that he is more concerned with the integrity of his production than potential controversy or consequences. There are even times when you feel like it is his strange, tough-love way of getting Trevor to face his demons head-on.

This is a film that adolescents, teens, parents, teachers, and principals need to see. In its own way, it moves you to hushed, contemplative silence, much the way "Saving Private Ryan" did. At the end of both, you know you have seen something that cuts to the bone, and you have to respect their power and vision.

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16 out of 20 people found the following review useful:

Some answers of why the Columbine school shooting took place.

8/10
Author: producer-3
24 June 2002

I saw this film at the Nantucket film festival (2002) with the writer, director and cast member Thomas Cavanagh. It revolves around the school play `Bang Bang You're Dead', and the troubled youth Trevor who is on the brink of a collapse.

The movie was paced fairly well, and the acting was good. Although, I found the plot to go off track for a while, I was emotionally thrilled throughout the film. Thomas Cavanagh put on a great performance as an educator. Ben Foster, as Trevor, was a good cast for the part. Both performances were well executed.

It's a very good movie. You don't know what will happen next. It's a good movie to show your kid if he is having social problems in school. It is also a big promotion for the `Bang Bang You're Dead' play.

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4 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

Probably the best School shooting movie ever made

10/10
Author: kurciasbezdalas from Lithuania
2 August 2008

This is my favorite movie about school shooting. It's interesting from the beginning to the end. All actors did a great job. The plot is very original. Not like all other school shooting movies like "Elephant"or "Zero day" this one has a deeper meaning. It is also revealing. It proofs that hate isn't the best way to deal our problems. It's also teach us to forgive people their mistakes and to help them to come back to a normal life. The movie is very intense and sometimes even shocking so it will keep your attention until the last minute. I think everybody should see this movie. Rarely they make a movie which would be interesting and revealing at the same time. So if you are looking for a good school shooting movie - this is it.

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5 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

A Very Important Film

10/10
Author: Tiger_Mark from The Greater Southwest
14 October 2002

Speaking as a high school teacher, I must say that this is one of the most important films on school that I have ever seen. I can see why this play/movie raised such a controversy. The film examines the root causes that bring about events like Columbine. It is easy to hate those people that commit such atrocities against their fellow students. However, this film/play tries to show how these situations are born and can possibly be prevented. It does not try to make you sympathize with the killers, it tries to prevent such tragedies from taking place. I think all high school students should see it. Very powerful.

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