A documentary about bullying; not much more to say other than that.
Here’s what I wrote about this one in my original theatrical review:
“I’m not going to lie, watching Bully isn’t easy. The movie throws images on the screen that make the viewer decidedly uncomfortable, showcasing children in peril (whether they care to realize or understand it or not) and parents who have lost their young ones to suicide with forceful directness. It doesn’t pull punches or try to paint a more palatable picture, director Lee Hirsch (Amandla! A Revolution in Four Part Harmony) delivering his saga of kid-on-kid brutality with a didactic verisimilitude that’s decidedly chilling.
Filmed over the course of the 2009-2010 school year smack-dab in the middle of the American heartland, Hirsch weaves a cadre of stories into a cohesive narrative highlighting what it is like to both be the subject of abuse as well as the parents of those being abused. He also focuses on one school administrator trying to navigate these damaging waters best she knows how, highlighting her struggles and almost comical – comical if they weren’t so depressingly heartbreaking – attempts to assure parents the school will do all it can to hold bullies accountable.
Not that the movie does very much. It follows its cast of characters. It shows their struggle. It listens to what they have to say. It offers up an emotional finale. It asks its viewers to take action and try to help put an end to bullying and educate their children on the effects upon the bullied and bully alike. That’s it. Nothing more. And, to put it bluntly, there isn’t a darn thing wrong with that.
I must say that, as much as the stories of Middle School student Alex, given the distasteful nickname ‘Fish Face’ by his abusive so-called friends, 16-year-old lesbian Kelby and 14-year-old Ja’Meya, incarcerated in a juvenile detention center for reasons better left discovered by watching the film, are, for me it was the stories of parents David and Tina Long and Kirk and Laura Smalley that really brought home the impact bullying can have upon an entire family. Their children were lost to them, taking their own lives (Kirk and Laura’s son only 11-years-old) because the abuse they were receiving in schools just became too much to bear.
Hirsch has delivered an important and vital documentary difficult to dislike. Cinematically, he’s compiled his footage in a way that is consistently compelling, and it’s hard to believe anyone who watches the film won’t come away impacted by what they’ve witnessed. Is it enough on its own? Probably not, but Bully does get the dialogue started, and that in and of itself is an important attribute that cannot be dismissed.”
I can’t say I needed to watch Bully again, but I certainly didn’t mind revisiting the documentary. As far as home viewing is concerned, the film is more of a teaching tool than it is anything else, and I do hope that numerous schools around the country pick a copy (or more) up and start showing it to their student body.
Bully is presented on a dual-layer 50GB Blu-ray MPEG-4 AVC Video with a 1.78:1 1080p transfer.
This Blu-ray features an English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 soundtrack and features optional English SDH and Spanish subtitles.
Extras here include:
· Special Version of Bully Edited For A Younger Audience (47:11) – An edited version designed for younger, elementary-aged school children.
· Deleted Scenes (12:35) - Six scenes, all interesting yet I do get why they were removed from the film. Still, I can’t say it would have hurt anything had they been included, some of them maybe even making the finished film a tad stronger.
· The Bully Project at Work (7:17) – The Taylor Middle School gets involved with The Bully Project.
· Alex After Bully (4:27) – Alex after the movie. Way too brief a look at what’s happening with him if you ask me.
· Alex's Character Sketch (1:45) – More with Alex.
· Alex Raps (2:27) – Alex rapping with Sean Kingston at the NO BULL Teen Video Awards.
· Kelby's Original Sketch (1:26) – A little more of Kelby.
· Meryl Streep on Bullying (2:07) – The Academy Award winning actress talks about her reaction to seeing the film.
· Communities in Motion (5:16) – Animation/Live Action combo talking about prevention initiatives.
· Sioux City After Bully (6:32) – One of the cities at the heart of the film discuss what they’ve been doing to stop bullying in the aftermath of its filming and subsequent release.
· Good Morning America (7:57) – An Interview piece first aired on “Good Morning America.”
· Kevin Jennings, An Advocate's Perspective (2:22) – Former Assistant U.S. Secretary of Education talks about bullying.
· We Are Daniel Cui (3:17) – How a group of teammates and friends helped stopped the online bullying of one of their own.
· Bully, The Book - An ad for the book.
A DVD Version of the movie is also included.
Bully is a very good documentary on a subject we could all use to talk more about. Definitely worthy of a watch and, for parents and school districts, probably more than one.