October 25, 2014
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Bully
Don Fowler
3.5 stars
Reviewer's Rating:

(Must-see documentary)

Bravo to the Avon Theatre for booking this must-see documentary for at least a two-week run.

While the film by Lee Hirsch is a bit rough around the edges and looks like a first-time entry in a college film festival, the message it delivers is something every parent and school-age child should see.

Bully follows five children (three boys and two girls) from different parts of the country who have been bullied. Two of them committed suicide and one was sent to a juvenile detention facility for bringing a gun on her school bus.

Most of the hour and a half film centers around Iowan Alex Libby, who had "trouble making friends" and was hit, poked, verbally abused and tormented by his fellow students, resulting in his low esteem. One of the more poignant moments comes from the father of a suicide victim who says, "My son will always be 11 years old.”

The adults come off badly, especially a vice principal who just doesn't get it, convinced in her own mind that nothing's wrong. After all, she rode the school bus and the kids all behaved. Duh! And then there's the town official who proclaims, "Kids will be kids.”

One of the parents initiates a town hall meeting, where people express their concerns, which go right over the heads of those who should know better and be doing something about it.

The film does jump around a bit too much and occasionally loses its focus, but the message is there: Bullying is wrong and everyone has to do his or her part to stop it.

The documentary makes only one slight reference to cyber bullying and has toned down the actual violence and profanity. Oddly, there is one very brief scene on a school bus where there is profanity, which is emphasized with sub-titles.

The film concentrates on the victims and not the bullies...but that's another story. The final moments are devoted to the "I Stand for the Silent" campaign, which is picking up steam across the country. People are selling "I Am Somebody" bracelets to raise money for the important cause. There even was a guy outside the Avon selling t-shirts. You can learn more by checking out www.thebullyproject.com.

The film carries a PG-13 rating because of that one scene with profanity. It should be seen by every student in junior high and high school, their parents, teachers and especially school administrators.


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