Bully

"Excellent"

Bully Review


Larry Clark -- who wrote and directed his first film, Kids, at the tender age of 52 and in the process, broke the mold about what we should expect from a movie about teenagers -- returns to familiar ground in Bully, a striking and harrowing follow-up.

A slam-dunk natural subject for Clark, Bully follows the based-on-reality story of Marty Puccio (Brad Renfro), who along with his girlfriend Lisa (Rachel Miner) decides to brutally slay his "best friend" Bobby (Nick Stahl) as payback for a lifetime of abuse. Set in the ultra-trashy nether regions of southern Florida -- and I mean seriously, beyond-WWF trashy -- there's little to do but drive your car, play video games, have sex, and beat the crap out of your friends.

Bobby's brutalities extend to everyone who crosses his path -- he punches Marty in the face for driving poorly, he rapes Marty's girlfriend Lisa, he rapes Lisa's friend Ali (Bijou Phillips), he pimps Marty for cash at an amateur strip night, and he even interferes with Marty's plan when he scams on chicks at the mini-mall. Obsessed with gay porn, Bobby is portrayed as deeply confused and probably a closet homosexual, a psychotic without hope of recovery. Even Bobby's clueless father is oblivious to his son's actions; in fact, all the parents in the film are ignorant to the actions of their children. So of course, as it is decided in a moment of almost careless discusssion, Bobby must be killed.

Masterminded by Lisa, Bobby is driven out to the Everglades by seven conspirators, stabbed repeatedly, and left as food for the crabs and gators. By the time we reach the inevitable aftermath, Clark's picture has devastated us with its deft dissection of a tormented and hollow New American Youth.

Laden with a striking amount of graphic, sweaty, and frequently brutal teen sex, its stars covered with a disturbing number of scars and bruises, Bully is as difficult to watch as Kids, and it is equally as assured. While the script is exquisite, its actors deserve the highest lauding. Renfro is extremely brave and confident in his role as the confused whipping boy. Miner (you may know her as the former Mrs. Macauley Culkin) is equally valiant in a character that requires her to be completely naked in alternating scenes. But it is Clark's uncompromised skewering of white bread Americana that makes Bully so compelling. Clark pulls no punches and never panders to the Moral Majority; he simply makes his point, over and over again: This is what your children think is acceptable behavior. And he's right, because it really happened.

Still, Clark will always be more a writer than a director in my eyes. His hand is often unsteady as he can't decide how to frame a scene; as a result, some bits of Bully look rushed, others amateurish. Most notably this occurs with a long and dizzying spinning-camera shot that adds nothing to the picture except, well, dizziness.

Regardless of the directing foibles, Bully gets my flat recommendation. It probably goes without saying, but this is one summer teen movie that's probably not for the kids.

The DVD release of Bully is stellar -- a crisp transfer with just the right amount of extras. Among them are a short interview with Clark, plus a boatload of surprisingly literate interviews with the cast. Highly recommended.

Surf's up, six feet under.



Facts and Figures

Run time: 115 mins

In Theaters: Wednesday 12th December 2001

Box Office Worldwide: $480.8 thousand

Distributed by: Lions Gate Films

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 4 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 54%
Fresh: 49 Rotten: 42

IMDB: 7.0 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Starring: as Marty Puccio, as Ali Willis, as Bobby Kent, as Lisa Connelly, as Bobby Kent, as Donny Semenex, as The Hitman, as Heather Swallers, as Cousin Derek, Nathalie Paulding as Claudia

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

Contactmusic 2017 Exclusive

New Movies

Hidden Figures Movie Review

Hidden Figures Movie Review

This film recounts such a great true story that we don't mind the fact that...

The Founder Movie Review

The Founder Movie Review

This is the story of Ray Kroc, the man who created the concept of McDonald's....

John Wick: Chapter 2 Movie Review

John Wick: Chapter 2 Movie Review

Keanu Reeves picks up his supremely efficient hitman immediately where the 2015 original left him:...

Fences Movie Review

Fences Movie Review

After winning Tony Awards on Broadway, Denzel Washington and Viola Davis reteam for a film...

The Lego Batman Movie Movie Review

The Lego Batman Movie Movie Review

A spin-off from 2014's awesome The Lego Movie, this raucously paced action-comedy is proof that...

The Space Between Us Movie Review

The Space Between Us Movie Review

While the premise of this movie makes it look like a sci-fi adventure, the truth...

Toni Erdmann Movie Review

Toni Erdmann Movie Review

On paper, the idea of a two-hour 40-minute German comedy may not seem very promising,...

Advertisement
Gold Movie Review

Gold Movie Review

Based on a true story, this lively and sometimes outrageous adventure is packed with twists...

Loving Movie Review

Loving Movie Review

While this film tackles a huge issue in the history of race relations in America,...

T2 Trainspotting Movie Review

T2 Trainspotting Movie Review

It's been 20 years since we last saw four freewheeling young junkies from Edinburgh spiral...

Hacksaw Ridge Movie Review

Hacksaw Ridge Movie Review

Based on an astounding true story, this battlefield drama mixes warm emotion with intense action...

Sing Movie Review

Sing Movie Review

The quality of the animation in this musical comedy may not be up to Pixar...

Jackie Movie Review

Jackie Movie Review

Rather than make a standard biopic about the most famous First Lady in American history,...

Split Movie Review

Split Movie Review

After a few badly received sci-fi blockbusters, M. Night Shyamalan returned to his earthier style...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.