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Bully (2011)

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A documentary on peer-to-peer bullying in schools across America.

Director:

Lee Hirsch
8 wins & 21 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Ja'Meya Jackson Ja'Meya Jackson ... Herself
Kelby Johnson Kelby Johnson ... Herself
Lona Johnson Lona Johnson ... Herself
Bob Johnson Bob Johnson ... Himself
Alex Libby Alex Libby ... Himself
Jackie Libby Jackie Libby ... Herself
Philip Libby Philip Libby ... Himself
Maya Libby Maya Libby ... Herself
Jada Libby Jada Libby ... Herself
Ethan Libby Ethan Libby ... Himself
Logan Libby Logan Libby ... Himself
Kim Lockwood Kim Lockwood ... Herself
David Long David Long ... Himself
Tina Long Tina Long ... Herself
Teryn Long Teryn Long ... Herself
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Storyline

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, like every other, bullying will be a big part of whatever meets them at their school's front doors. ... Written by Lowen, Cynthia; Hirsch, Lee

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

It's time to take a stand See more »

Genres:

Documentary

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG-13 for intense thematic material, disturbing content, and some strong language - all involving kids | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Official Sites:

Official site

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

27 April 2012 (Iceland) See more »

Also Known As:

Bully See more »

Filming Locations:

Georgia, USA See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$1,100,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$116,472, 30 March 2012, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$4,038,876, 9 November 2012
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

Dolby | Dolby Digital | DTS

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Bully was originally rated R for language. The Weinstein Company appealed for a lower rating, as the R rating would exclude the very audience that is was intended for - high-school teens. They lost the appeal for a PG-13 rating by one vote so the distributor surrendered the original rating and opted for their film to be released 'Unrated' to the theaters. Finally, the filmmakers agreed to cut some, but not all, of the relevant language, and the MPAA did agree to re-rate the movie PG-13. The PG-13 version does keep intact all the language in the scene that was the main point of contention between the filmmakers and the MPAA, in which a 12-year-old is physically and verbally attacked on his school bus by his classmates. See more »

Goofs

The scene where Alex is walking down the street and throwing a stick is inverted. The "Mitsubishi" text on the back of the truck is flipped. See more »

Quotes

Teacher: My concern is, is that you were making someone feel so uncomfortable, that they didn't wanna be in school.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in The Simpsons: Love Is a Many Splintered Thing (2013) See more »

Soundtracks

To The Stars! To The Night!
Written by Samuel McDonald Simkoff
Performed by Le Coup
Courtesy of Hardly Art
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Nobody wins or loses. Just hatred looms.
14 April 2012 | by Steve PulaskiSee all my reviews

Bully is a film that needed to be made. I believe at one point in time we were bullied, some of us were bullies, and most of us were been a bystander to bullying. For years, we've seen fictional characters be bullied in many Hollywood productions, that provided audiences with simple, relatable, and moderately effective entertainment. The characters were familiar, the plots were conventional, but we laughed, liked the characters, and wanted them to succeed more often than not. Never have we seen bullying in its rawest form, and capturing that on film is one of the hardest, most emotion-testing things one could do with the art form.

In the documentary, we follow around five people from all across the U.S. who have encountered bullying in some way or shape in their school. In Oklahoma, we meet openly gay Kelby Johnson, a down to earth youth who has been outcast for her sexual orientation. She has a tight bond with her friends, including her girlfriend, but personal feelings of inferiority and the looming thought that she'll never be like everyone else has lead her to try to take her life three times. It is a bit sad her story couldn't have been elaborated more. The subject of gay bullying could've been a documentary on its own.

In Mississippi, teenager Ja'Meya Jackson pulled a loaded gun on a bus full of students, enraged and hurt at the fact that she had been bullied for months and not a single person had taken action. She didn't kill anyone, but her life has changed greatly since the event. In Iowa, we meet Alex Libby, a socially awkward loner, victim to verbal and physical abuse on his school bus for a face resembling a fish. He is a quiet soul, bottling up his rage and hatred for people and coldly tells the camera "sometimes I want to become the bully." The other two children's stories are told through their parents, because they committed suicide for continuing arrogance to the problem. Kirk and Laura Smalley, parents of their late son Ty who took his life at the tender age of eleven, have started an organization called "Stand for the Silent" in hopes that people will speak out for those who aren't. The fifth boy is the deceased Tyler Long, who killed himself at seventeen because of ongoing torment for his weak appearance and uninvolved athletic status.

As a documentary, Bully is a surface-scratcher, going for an expansive view on the issue, rather than a deep, moving one. It manages to pull in a number of different souls who have been victim to harsh, uncalled for treatment, but never seems to explore them to the level of depth that we'd like. We also, never get a look at the other side of the road, from a bully's perspective. Why does one bully? Why does one take pride in hurting other people? And does their homelife really have anything to do with it, or do they just enjoy the pain and torment his victim feels? Bully paints the issue as one with no feasible solution other than to police the grounds carefully and intricately.

Bully has also been garnering a plethora of controversy surrounding the MPAA's decision to stamp the film with an R-rating. Director Lee Hirsch stated by doing that, the film would then be out of reach to children who the movie is directly made for. This is another move by the MPAA, made by completely tuning out the impact a film like this could have, in exchange for sticking to old, worn, outdated policies from an organization far too biased in their decision-making. The film was released for two weeks with an "Unrated" rating, rejecting the MPAA's suggested rating, before the edited cut, the one now in theaters, was released moderately theatrical with a few of f-words subtracted to try and garner more revenue and viewership.

With that being said, the documentary is definitely worthy of recognition and is almost required viewing for not only young children, but parents as well. It gives hope to the unlikely outcasts, which I have always enjoyed seeing, and it provides people with the feeling that things are being done. For one, we are seeing a documentary on the issue and organizations are being created to stop it. Things are getting done, but will the problem be eliminated, is my question. Last year, I watched an ABC Family movie called Cyberbully, about a teen girl who was being harassed and attacked viciously on the web. Throughout the showing, commercials aired stating "stomp the bullying" and "delete the drama," but who really was paying attention? Are bullies going to look at a Television film and thing "what I'm doing is wrong, I should stop?" Most likely no. They will embrace it with a cold shoulder, ignoring its messages and its morals.

I'm optimistic about the response for Bully, but as far as eliminating the degrading act, that would have to mean taking away peoples' feelings of inferiority and superiority to one another. That just can't be done. It's the painful side of the world and human nature. Bully is the first documentary I have had the pleasure of seeing in theaters, and despite noticeable restrictions, it is a brave film with a lot of heart, humanity, and soul. A bold and daring exercise that could change the way documentaries are produced. The MPAA should've debated that before seeking out the rubric for their tired policies.

Starring: Alex Libby, Je'Maya Jackson, Kelby Johnson, Kirk Smalley, Laura Smalley, and Kim Lockwood. Directed by: Lee Hirsch.


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