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

Life Movie Review

Life Movie Review

Like a mash-up of Alien and Gravity, this ripping sci-fi horror movie is very effective...

The Lost City of Z Movie Review

The Lost City of Z Movie Review

Based on a true story, it's the historical aspect of these events that holds the...

Chips Movie Review

Chips Movie Review

It's clear from the very start that this movie has little to do with the...

Beauty And The Beast Movie Review

Beauty And The Beast Movie Review

This remake of Disney's 1991 classic is remarkably faithful, using present-day digital animation effects to...

The Salesman Movie Review

The Salesman Movie Review

Iranian filmmaker Asghar Farhadi won his second Oscar with this astute drama which, like 2011's...

Get Out Movie Review

Get Out Movie Review

Leave it to a comedian to make one of the scariest movies in recent memory....

Personal Shopper Movie Review

Personal Shopper Movie Review

After winning a series of major awards for her role in Olivier Assayas' Clouds of...

Advertisement
Certain Women Movie Review

Certain Women Movie Review

In films like Wendy and Lucy and Meek's Cutoff, writer-director Kelly Reichardt has told sharply...

Kong: Skull Island Movie Review

Kong: Skull Island Movie Review

After the success of 2014's Godzilla reboot, the Warner Bros monsters get their own franchise,...

Viceroy's House Movie Review

Viceroy's House Movie Review

Filmmaker Gurinder Chada (Bend It Like Beckham) draws on her own family history to explore...

Trespass Against Us Movie Review

Trespass Against Us Movie Review

With an extra dose of attitude and energy, this Irish comedy-drama hits us like a...

Logan Movie Review

Logan Movie Review

Hugh Jackman returns to his signature role one last time (so he says), reuniting with...

Patriots Day Movie Review

Patriots Day Movie Review

The third time's a charm for Mark Wahlberg and director Peter Berg, who previously teamed...

A Cure for Wellness Movie Review

A Cure for Wellness Movie Review

It's no surprise that this creep-out horror thriller is packed with whizzy visual invention, since...

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.