Bang Bang You're Dead (2002) Poster

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Wonderfully compelling
bjudd19 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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Shining A Light Into A Dark Corner
Lechuguilla5 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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one last shot
soaringhorse12 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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Hard Hitting, Intense Film
mwendel13 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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Immensely true to life.
Wynne9 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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A gritty meditation on teen violence that pulls no punches
Jaimzay17 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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A Very Important Film
Tiger_Mark14 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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Some answers of why the Columbine school shooting took place.
producer-324 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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great movie on high school violence...
krazziejen892 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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Probably the best School shooting movie ever made
kurciasbezdalas2 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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wonderfully depressing
hallofmirrors66616 July 2005
this movie is my life, with a few less trashcans. it's so good, i loved it. i have to warn you, it is sad. i guess it was worse for me because i "identify" with Trevor so much; i'm sure a lot of people have for a moment, or jokingly, but this is my life. the movie deals with real live issues that so many people, including myself, are going through. so many feelings going through our heads. its so good. every thing in it is real. the thought of killing everyone. the thought of dying yourself. it's all there, in my life and in Trevor's. but, be warned, if you have any true thoughts of murder and/or suicide, it will be as a shock because i know i understand more of what i feel. I'm not saying that this movie will make you better. hell, it may have made me worse. but even so, you should see this movie. it is so totally sweet. i loved it man. its heavy, but awesome.
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more chilling than Elephant
schpalding20 December 2004
Having only just seen this film, my comments are a little late in comparison to others, but it deserves the recommendation. An outstanding central performance by Ben Foster as the troubled teenager who favors pyro-vengeance on his aggressors, this film dissects the causes for the violent wrath that occurred so tragically in high-schools such as Columbine. The extremely effective use of video-diary as explanation to both the tutors of the school and the audience leaves a chilling scar that has a greater impact than that used in Gus Van Sant's 'Elephant', though this film is of not of equal standing to Van Sant's eloquent jigsaw. Powerful however.
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Frightening kids
I've been in school not long time ago, I was in school when Columbine and it kinda scares me how good this movie is, every person remembers the time when something really embarrassing changed the way others look at them, well... this movie shows all that in the most crude way, how a person that act different can be a way to show why NORMAL is not always the best option, this kid Ben Foster is an amazing Actor I knew it when I first noticed him in "Get over it" but this movie must be his best work so far. the way the trogs act, the hurting on those eyes, on those little kids, those lost souls screaming for help, so amazing, so real, so good. I'm sure most of the people have seen this movie but is not a bad option for a day with your childs, it has everything you'll need to make them watch it and get the message.

Amazing movie, there's no more words to express it.
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Great movie
Joshua (joshg2fl)1 October 2004
Good article:

Probably one of best TV movies ever.

It does a great job of showing high school life.

It's clichéd at times, but always at the right times.

Give this one a shot. I'm pretty sure you won't be disappointed. Your heart will go out to troubled teens.

Maybe it will ever remind you not to ignore a teen close to you.

Read the article. It's much better than my ramblings.

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A depressing portrayal of High School life
necodivad25 September 2004
Depression is something that everyone must endure in their life. Some are hit harder then others. Thirty Thousand teenagers end their life every year because of depression. A few even resort to a final lash back at their tormentors in life.

The movie "Bang, Bang, You're Dead" depicts an average teenagers attempts to survive the Public School System. However, after his expulsion from school during his freshman year due to a bomb-threat, his life crashed around him. Though this movie does not try to justify the violence in the many school shooting that have taken place over the years, it does attempt to show the anguish and sorrow that the students who committed them faced. The conceited jocks, the ignorant community, and the negligent parents all help to form the web of despair that Trevor fought, and eventually succumbs to.

Everyone must see this excellent movie. Rather than portray a bad guy that must be defeated, as most modern movies do, this film depicts all the parties involved as the cause. The problem that this movie faces is also what makes it great. The realistic portrayal of the torment many teenagers must endure may actually anger some viewers, as it clearly places the blame on the gunmen as well as the victims. As Americans, we have become complacent with the fact that the victim is always innocent. We neglect the truth that everyone who was involved was as some level to blame.

Having attempted suicide once, and contemplated it several times, I can relate to the depression and anger that Trevor endured. At some times, there was little to keep me going. This movie is not a fantasy to be watched from afar, but rather a stirring and realistic portrayal of the troubles that many teenagers go through everyday. As a nation, we should consider ourselves lucky that the events depicted in this movie are not commonplace. In 1995, 31 284 suicides were reported in the US, compared with 22 552 homicides. This movie hits that point home. If we continue to ignore this generation, we only stand by and watch as it destroys itself. As part of that generation, I am compelled to plead on its behalf. Watch this movie, and see the pain that teenagers endure. Maybe we don't all get trash-canned, but we do all have our problems. 30 000 is a large number. At what number will we finally be shown compassion?

  • 9.5/10 -
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Stunning, thought provoking, disturbing...
Terminal Madness14 October 2002
Ben Foster proves he can act and displays great length as disturbed Trevor Adams who is constantly bullied and tortured by the "Higher ups" of the high school. He begins to show violent behavior after he begins hanging out with a group of Loners called the Trogs. We get to see him descend into violence but he is not completely alone as he is constantly defended by his teacher Val, aptly played by Thom Cavanaugh, who is also equally great. Though, true, the movie does tend to force sub-plots on us and never follows through, this is a grim disturbing portrait of high school violence without poiting the finger at certain characters like society does when these types of things happen. Noone is portrayed as the victim and noone as the enemy, and in the end we ask, "What's the morale?" What is the morale? Noone knows.
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true to life
demon_realm23 June 2016
Growing up i was bullied and made fun of due to my weight. I was usually by myself unless with a select group of friends. I can only say that if it weren't for my mother putting me in boy scouts as a kid i may have grown up a lot different. Those who watch the movie need to remember that this isn't just a movie but a dramatic representation of what really goes on in life and its repercussions. I think this movie should be shown in all schools. It may show those who bully what can come of their actions. Or it may show students like me that were bullied there are other options. By finding one person to be your friend you are changing your whole world.
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Thank you...
Waylon Chen17 October 2009
This movie is excellent in portraying the high school life of these people. I watched this film to find an answer that I was searching for 8 years. And this movie gave me the part of the answer. This movie perfectly portrays who I was 8 years. Unpopular, depressed, emotionally unstable, and suicidal me. I know this story very well because I was one of them, just like Trevor. This movie made cry, and reminded me about everything in my past. Trevor was me, and I was him. This movie described everything about my dark past. But, i was saved, and Trevor was saved. He did what is right. and he had some people who supported him. Those people made him realize what is right, but also to confront it. Trevor was marely a person running away from all these peer pressures, bullying, violence, and himself. But, in the end he realized that he must fight it in order to do what is right. Now, I'm not talking about the usual "right" that others teach you, but your rights, freedoms, and will to stand up for yourselves. I never gave up to fight because I have people who love me, who admires me, who cares about me, and therefore I can continue to fight on. I was once a person with nothing, but now, I have something to long for, something to protect, something live.
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Ze_Costa_716 May 2009
Trash Can! Retard! Weirdo! Loser! Freak! Spazz! Pizza Face! Those are just some of the names that can change your life forever... and it all starts in high school!

Bang Bang You're Dead, when you watch it you don't think that you're gonna like it... but you're gonna love it and it's gonna change your mind and your life!

It just shows how mentally dangerous and disturbing High School really is and how mean kids can really be!

To me, this movie is EXCELLENT, one of the best movies I've ever seen! It really changed me... I love it and every time I have the chance I watch it over and over and over again!

Great cast, great plot, great play! Gotta love it!!!
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Painfully realistic high school everyday life
quende2 December 2007
I usually don't comment on movies I watch even though I have a lot to say about a lot of movies. Although after watching this one I feel that I really have to make a comment about it. Because it is THAT good and THAT important.

This movie is about the everyday life in high school, focusing on the negative parts of that everyday life. It's mainly about Trevor, a boy who has been bullied for some time by a group of jocks. Although he's not the only victim. We follow him and see school from his perspective. How him and other people are being ridiculed and tortured every day. Some of them eventually snap. Some decide that it's payback time and that's what this movie is about. What happens when someone is pushed over that thin line and turns to violence for revenge.

What struck me the most watching this film was how utterly and painfully real the environment felt. This is the school I remember going to. This is the hierarchy and cruelty I remember taking place every day. In at least one comment I read that someone thought that this movie stereotyped people and especially the jocks and maybe that's the case. Still I can't but feel that some of the stereotyping is in fact quite accurate. Because it is the jocks and cheerleaders who are the popular ones, it is they who rule the school. Whether or not they're bullies or not. Bullies comes in many forms and this movies chose to use jocks as bullies. To me that feels unimportant. What feels important is how the movie shows us how things are. How some people take such pleasure in humiliating others and how those victims of bullying actually feel about being victimized. Their pain felt realistic and actually made my eyes tear up a couple of times.

Trevor is the most realistic portrayment of bullying I've ever seen in a movie. Because he appears to be so normal. There's nothing special or so called "weird" about his looks, his clothes, the way he acts or anything. He's just a kid that people chose to pick on, just like the bullies in the real world can choose anyone, for anything. There doesn't have to be reasons. What is just is. The character Trevor feels so real and his pain becomes real to you.

The acting is good. It's in fact REALLY good and all of the actors does a great job portraying their characters. And as for the play this movie is based on which we see parts of, it's amazing!

This movie is a important piece of work and the more so right now because of how common high school shootings are becoming and also because of the fact that this goes on every single day in hundreds of thousands of schools. Hopefully it can make some people think about things they perhaps don't notice.
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Sometimes the Truth is Hard to Swallow
liberalblossom1522 November 2007
A troubled teenage boy, Trevor Adams (Ben Foster) returns to his high school for his sophomore year after being expelled for threatening to blow up the high school football team. This time he carries a video camera everywhere he goes, catching things on film usually ignored by administrators in the high school setting. He is casted as the main character in the school play, "Bang Bang You're Dead", in hopes to bring the town to understand what drives these kids to hurt their classmates and shoot up their schools.

I've read mixed reviews on this film, but I honestly can't understand why anyone would only give this film one star. People complain about the cliché cliques (well those usually exist in the high school setting), the "teacher who cares" cliché (well, he was needed to drive the point home), and the fact that the "loser" caught the interest of a semi-attractive girl. (Well, he's not exactly ugly, and she has a mind of her own. How is that unrealistic? I've seen it happen a lot.)These clichés are hardly evident to most viewers - I've seen the film twice and barely noticed them. Who cares if there are clichés as long as the film makes a point and does it well? That's what made me rate this film so high. It moved me, it made me think, and it aroused mixed emotions within me. Anger at the ignorance and the bullying, hopeful that Trevor will make everyone see the truth in a nonviolent way, and relief that a film had the balls to point out that the thing many schools turn their back on is the cause of many school shootings.

The cast was amazing, especially Ben Foster as Trevor. He really brought the character to life, and I doubt the film would have had the same effect on the viewers if he wasn't in it. The supporting cast did a good job as well, but his performance was the most memorable to me.

I loved this film and I feel it does a great job of showing what these students go through every day - and they do it without having to use profanity. It shows that a little violence, and even the slightest name calling can push someone over the edge. It's intense, and probably one of my favorite films to come out after the year 2000.
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Good social message
the_teapot18 April 2007
I like this film because it shows the "other side", and tries to go to the root of the problem of school violence, not just deal with its consequences. It's easy to see kids who commit violence in schools as monsters, but it doesn't help the matters much. This film gives a different perspective on those very individuals. The reasons why young people slip so badly into antisocial behavior go so much deeper than "oh he's just a bad apple" and this movie has made a good job at showing that. Not that those who have committed mass murders should be forgiven just because they were such martyrs, but perhaps preventively, the American educational system should think of a different approach towards misbehaving teenagers, and look more into removing the causes of their frustration, rather than just try to whip them into good behavior with punishment. Classical disciplinary measures like detention, suspension and expelling tend to only worsen their isolation, which only reinforces their hatred of life,(and not just their own!). I believe many tragedies could have been prevented if the society had done less frowning upon children who have a hard time fitting in, and I like the fact this film hints that if you give a young person so full of anger and frustration a bit of respect instead of contempt, it may significantly change the way they see life.
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Should be available to every kid everywhere
Tom Rodgers15 September 2005
I just caught this film late night and was expecting a moralising tale aimed at parents, but this is an outstanding film. Anyone who's ever been bullied will be moved by this film, the way it captures the humiliation and the anger that wells up inside when you take s**t from other people everyday at school.

It's also a frank and intelligent look at why the school shootings are happening in America, what drives people to do these awful things, and thankfully lays off from providing any easy answers. Ben Foster gives a fantastically natural performance in the lead role, with great support from the young cast. I'd heartily recommend it to anyone, you won't be disappointed.
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Not quite enough
padi198421 April 2004
"Bang Bang, Your Dead" is an intriguing idea yet never driven home. The actors try their best to make use of the tame script that is "family friendly". The basic plot involves a loner (Ben Foster) with a somewhat disturbing past involving a bomb threat and a history of being teased and bullied. He finds a haven from the constant barrage of insults and bullying by becoming the lead in the controversial new play "Bang Bang, You're Dead", led by the cliche "teacher who cares". Unfortunatly, things get worse at his school, and he falls in with a group of fellow losers known as the Trogs, and they wage an all out war on the Jocks and popular people, and tensions arise to the point that could lead to an explosive end.

The movie holds back too much to be taken seriously. The dialogue seems to be trying its best to stay in the PG category, and the Jock crowd seemed awfully two-dimensional. Many of the characters seem cliche and annoying, and the ending did not live up to the title. By the way, if this guy is such a loser, then how is he able to start reltaions with a semi-attractive girl? Kudos should go out to Ben Foster, who makes the character as believable as possible. Some things can be overlooked, including the stereotypical high-standard parents and often laughable ideas of bullying and taunts. If someone walked through my school, they wouldn't hear "idiot" or "worthless". You would probably hear more profanity than a Scorsese film. Overall, an unbelievable portrayal of high school life, with little realism and carboard characters that could have been more detailed and complex.
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