136 of 143 people found the following review helpful
on April 13, 2003
"Bully" is as disturbing as a movie can get. It shakes you hard and once it gets its grasp on you, it never lets go until it's all said and done. It's also a movie that is guaranteed to stay in your head for days, no matter how hard you try to forget it. This is a chilling and powerful film, and one of the darkest movies I have seen this year so far.
Based on a true story, "Bully" is about a guy named Marty, who is always getting beaten up and tormented by his best friend Bobby. Bobby's one nasty and mean character who does what he wants when he wants. He's been known to be sexually abusive towards women and unleashes his violent temper upon anyone who gets in his way. Not being able to take it anymore, Marty and his girlfriend decide maybe it's time that something should be done. They get together with a group of friends and decide they have to kill Bobby What seems to be a simple plan falls apart right before their eyes, and once the deed is done they can never go back to the way things were.
This film is directed by the same man who did "Kids," Larry Clark. He does a superb job of orchestrating this brutally chilling force of a movie that knocks the air right out of your body. The cast and crew were also great. Every actor did their roles justice. Especially the man who plays Marty. As I was watching this, I kept asking to myself "This is a true story??" in complete disbelief.
Be warned, this is a VERY uneasy film to watch. Not a second goes by in where there isn't something shocking going on. This is another one of those movies that isn't meant for everybody, but I still think it's an important film. Bullying is a very serious subject that plagues the world every day. This movie reveals the true ugliness of that and shows just how far some will go to stop it.
The DVD doesn't have very much to offer, other than a couple of interviews, a music-only audio option, and a trailer. The picture and sound is really good, considering how low of a budget this movie was made on.
"Bully" is a success in my eyes, as hard as it was to watch. "Kids" is also very disturbing as well, but on much more different level. Again, this isn't a movie that everybody is going to like. In fact, I'm willing to bet that many who have attempted this movie were forced to stop it and were unable to finish it. Be warned, this is a very uneasy movie to watch. The scary reality of it all is these types of things happen all the time...
43 of 45 people found the following review helpful
on April 23, 2007
Bully is based on a true high school crime which took place in Cooper City, Florida. Boyhood friends Marty Puccio (Brad Renfro) and Bobby Kent (Nick Stahl) traveled in the same circles of casual drug use and loose women with a group of friends who rarely attended high school classes. Bobby bullied Marty their entire lives, raped both Marty and their girl friends, and pulled aggressive stunts such as capturing a local drifter and forcing him to perform homosexual acts on camera. Director Larry Clark presents a gripping portrait of bullying and submission, and of how hard it is to stand up to the bully when he's been in power for a good sixteen or more years.
With the high school sexual acts and drug use, this film will inevitably be compared to Clark's earlier work, Kids. Bully, however, is based on a true crime with copious court records, confessions, witness statements, and a non-fiction book about the subjects. Any reviewer who attacks the plausibility of the film needs to look no further than Martin Puccio, vs. State of Florida, Appellee. No. 86,242; November 20, 1997. Clark takes the facts of the case and presents a movie which illustrates the fear and loathing of someone who submits to a bully, and makes the viewer understand how hard it is to stand up and change the status quo.
Bully is told from the point of view of the teens involved in the group murder of Marty's tormentor. The question of ultimate responsibility for the crime is answered only in the court sentences, not by the filmmaker. This is a great discussion piece--does bullying invite crimes of self-defense? Was Lisa Connelly the ringleader or did Marty grow a backbone? Was Marty manipulated by yet another bully, Lisa, when he went along with her plan? Did an atmosphere of money, drugs, and plenty of free time create the perfect storm for a mob-mentality murder? How much do absent parents play into a tragedy of this proportion?
Larry Clark has no simple Hollywood answer to any of these questions. Therein lies the beauty of this film.
78 of 86 people found the following review helpful
Larry Clark's film "Bully" follows a dysfunctional group of Florida teens as their lives take a turn towards a horrific tragedy. Central to the story is the relationship between Marty (played by Brad Renfro) and Bobby (Nick Stahl), who work together at a sandwich shop. Bobby physically and verbally brutalizes Marty, thus laying the groundwork for the tragedy that follows.
"Bully" is a frightening portrayal of a nihilistic adolescent wasteland. The characters' lives revolve around violent video games, illegal drugs, and exploitative sex. Amoral and disconnected from parents and community, these kids are like a cluster of human time bombs.
The film features superb performances from its talented young cast; at times "Bully" feels like a gritty documentary. After seeing Stahl portray a rather nice character in "In the Bedroom," I was both shocked and impressed by his portrayal of the sociopathic youth in "Bully." And fans of the talented Renfro will be again rewarded; he brings a palpable pain and fury to this flawed, but strangely sympathetic character.
The graphic sex, homoeroticism, and violence of "Bully" will probably be too much for many viewers to take. But if you endure this disturbing film, you will see a compelling vision of fear, paranoia, and a desparate need for love and acceptance.
22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
on April 7, 2003
This film is still rating 5 stars because of the sheer fact that I couldn't turn if off when I first happened upon it late at night. It was one of those movies that made you think about the rest of the country and about the people next door.
Bully is based on the Jim Schutze novel/true crime account of the 1993 murder of Bobby Kent, a teenage "bully" who pushed a group of kids into killing him. Sort of. Only some of the characters responsible for Bobby's death don't even know who is he. They are the hangers-on of the main players, a sad, white suburban teen couple. These two are played perfectly by Brad Renfro (who, in staying in character as a complete doofus, was arrested for various hijinks during production) and Rachel Miner. Yes, Rachel-ex-wife-of-Macauley Culkin-Miner who prances nude in half the film. They're bound by a pregnancy and a familiar sense of going nowehere, he a has-been surfer dude at 19 and she a never-will-be dreamer.
Uh, anyway, a good portion of the film is spent on displaying Bobby's behavior, which is the resume for his murder. Nick Stahl is intense as Bobby, even though the real life Bobby Kent was a steroid-bulging, wanna be gang member son of Iranian immigrants, an ethnicity angle strangely omitted. Also omitted to a great extent is the gang angle of the real life case. It doesn't end up mattering because ultimately Stahl plays Bobby as a borderline psycho teen. To his parents he's a decent student, ambitious, a nice young man with a future ahead in college.
But in reality he's a raging lunatic. I mean, honestly, as much as it's surprising to see young suburban kids suddenly committ a brutal member, how many friends have you ever had like Bobby Kent? Teenage boys can be cruel to each other, but how many of your friends regularly punch you in the face, perform 3 Stooges-like slaps to your head at any moment, oh, and rape your girlfriend.
The saddest, and greatest part about this film is that the case was true. However, keep in mind a key element of the film: nearly all of the dialogue is taken right from the Jim Schutze novel WORD FOR WORD. Bully, the book, was something between a novel and true crime account that was very dialogue-oriented and wound up giving the film some of its best lines. Larry Clark didn't have to touch the lines up too much. But the staging is excellent. This is an almost pornographic account of the events yet it seems appropriate anyway since Clark is simply telling a TRUE story that was very gritty, very ugly.
Let's face it. The characters in this film are dumb. Very, very dumb, so dumb that you really don't feel sorry for any of them. Maybe one or two, but you'd live with it. Seriously, if you have any friends that remind you of any of these characters even a little bit, run. Run now.
Highly recommended for just not caring about Hollywood standards and going gonzo.
23 of 26 people found the following review helpful
on July 27, 2001
I'm no writer, and I posess of-average eloquence, but my need to express my personal impressions of this movie far surpasses my embarassment to write a review. "Bully" was an amazing film. For those who believe Clark was doing the film for shock value are confusing the sex and violence for what really goes on in this town and towns across America. Actually living in the area where the movie was filmed, I experienced what was my middle and high school years all over again (sans murder). The film also captures the mood of the area. The long, hot, boring Florida days that invite any activity to pass the time. The increasing number of high school drop outs in the area only aggravate the the possiblity of kids following in the same footsteps, and believe me, they already do. Clark managed to capture, what I believe to be, an essence as well as recreate a tragic story.
16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
on September 6, 2002
I consider "Kids" as a better portrayel of today's generalization of how bad our youth are, but at the same time "Bully" was tackling a story based on a true incident. So it's portrayel of these teens in this film is very good, because these kids are the worst of our generation and this movie about them is a masterpiece. This film is rather slow in some parts and gratuitous in others. And some of the nudity in the film was more voyeuristic than necessary. But despite this films flaws, the essence of the picture is that our kids are capable of anything. Especially where they're bored and lack adult supervision. The kids in this movie are mainly 17-18 year olds, living in Florida, who get stoned on weed and acid, booze, have sex, and hang around doing basically nothing except for plotting out the murder of their best friend. It starts out with Marty, played superb by Brad Renfro whose best friend Bobby Kent, played excellent by Nick Stahl. They've been best friends for years but Bobby abuses Marty and he can't do nothing about it because he seems defenseless against Bobby. Then they both meet Lisa (Rachael Miner) and Ally (Bijou Phillips). They get involved with one another and Marty ends up being a father when he gets Lisa pregnant. As the story goes on you see how much Lisa loves Marty despite her being bothered by his friend's abuse towards him and her. Bobby Kent is a boy making something out of himself but still has a sadistic pleasure in torturing others like raping both Lisa and Ally, beating Marty, making gay porno, and though he seems homophobic, you never seem to fully determine his sexuality.
Finally before the murder, Lisa and Marty have all their stoner friends from Palm Bay come over as they plot to murder Bobby in the most uninspired ways. Until Ally recruits a mafia hitman played by Leo Fitzpatrick (He played Telly in "Kids"). Then they have an idea to drive Bobby to a secluded area and finish him there. The murder scene is dark, bleak and unsettling. As you see these kids fall apart after the murder. You realize how stupid and moronic these youths are. They go around basically telling everyone about the murder.
Sure Bobby Kent was a vicious, brutal bully but at least he had a future. The other kid's lives were to mixed up in a bottomless abyss of sex and drugs. Both the victim and the killers don't really have any reedemable qualities, though by the end where they all face their prison sentences we have NO choice but to feel something for them. Seeing these wasted and lost children throw their lives away is sad. Larry Clark is one of the [boldest] directors out there, making controversial pictures that stay with you long after the film is done. If a film can have that effect on me, it's well worth viewing. UNRATED VERSION: Fairly graphic sex and nudity, some strong violence, language and drug use, all involving teens.
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on October 24, 2002
Every actor in this movie broke out strong. I'd say it is the finest performance in each of their careers, particularly Brad Renfro. This is a far better film for Larry Clark than Kids. It may not be for everyone, I agree. It's hard to say who would or would not favor this film, but if you watch the nightly news, you should enjoy this. Or not be disturbed by it at the least. And of course, if you are familiar with Larry Clark, you should already feel the need to see what he has done with this story. Pretty amazing, afterwards, it creeps into your thoughts. I walked away from viewing this with few thoughts, but the next day, without even knowing it, my mind would start to wander, curious about the real people involved. Finally I had to get online and find out all I could.
I particularly liked the camera work and angles used. Gave it a slight documentary feel. The last scene in the courtroom, although short, really stood out. In that scene, these actors were these people. The other features are great, well worth DVD over VHS. Most features are wasteful, but this contained funny, informative commentary on the entire film and the story behind it.
15 of 18 people found the following review helpful
on August 29, 2005
I enjoyed the movie when i saw it, but I knew there was something missing to the story. Then, I happened to see the A & E true story about this. Turns out that Marty may have been being molested by Bobby. When Marty decided he didn't want to be gay with Bobby anymore Bobby started making threats and being forceful with him. So, not only was Bobby date raping women, but he may have also raped Marty as well. With this concoction added to the fire, it's a little easier to see why Marty and others may have snapped the way they did. What a sad, sad story.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on June 27, 2006
Firstly I loved KIDS, it was really a groundbraking movie, disturbing,
memorable, funny (in a twisted way), thoughtful and had an important social message.
Now Bully, based on a true story feels more of an exploitation flick, nothing wrong with those movies, I happen to love them, but
was expecting more of a better ovrall story with more social context, it was believable but gratitious and you wonder why, the hell are we seeing certain scenes (one up a girls legs)
Still quite enjoyable, the dvd is adequate but not feature rich by any means, if you like exploitation, and dont expect anything too deep (and can stomach some disturbing imagery) you will LOVE this.
If your tastes are weird like mine, go for it! :)
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on June 10, 2010
Format: DVDVerified Purchase
Lisa Connelly had always been an insecure teenager. Thinking herself overweight and unattractive, she loved to spend her afternoons lying naked on her bed, staring up at the glistening photos of scantily clad men on her wall and dreaming of the day when she would have a "hunk" of her own. The positive inspiration in life was her friend Alli, who told her that she just needed "attitude" if she wanted a man, that she only had to get out on the beach and "work for it." One afternoon while visiting the grocery store deli with Alli, Lisa finds herself unable to speak. Behind the counter preparing sandwiches are two of the biggest hunks she has ever seen. Alli, far more experienced and unimpressed, boldly calls out to the boys, dissing them for not wearing cellophane gloves because she does not know where their hands have been. After making suggestive comments as to where their hands have explored and jauntily introducing themselves ,Bobby Kent and Marty Puccio invite the girls to watch them surf later that day. Though Alli promises to think about it, Lisa swears that the boys are making fun of her. "They're just being a--holes, Lisa," Alli assures her, "Guys are like that." But after joining Marty and Bobby at North Beach later that evening, Lisa finds herself falling for Marty's shy exterior. The two begin an intense sexual relationship, and it does not take long to see that Bobby's friendship with Marty extends far beyond the boundaries of typical male camaraderie. Bobby thrives on physically abusing Marty without reason, severely bloodying his nose in one scene and twisting his ear until it is red and smarting in another. He makes Marty accompany him to gay clubs and dance before the crowd, after which he demands any money that Marty earns from such degrading performances. Though Marty protests to the abuse, Bobby's mantra of "You know you're my best friend, right?" always keeps him coming back for more. Predictably, Bobby's possessive nature spills over into Marty and Lisa's relationship, and he begins turning his violence on her as well. One of the most harrowing scenes of the film involves Bobby walking into the room as Marty and Lisa are having sex, whipping Lisa with a belt, and knocking Marty out cold so that he can take his "turn" with his best friend's girl. He also viciously rapes Alli while forcing her to watch a homemade gay porn tape--with Lisa and Marty sitting in the next room, totally unaware. After a couple of months, Lisa can no longer stand Bobby's abusive ways. Not only is she tired of being beaten herself, but she is sick of watching her boyfriend cower like a dog in the presence of his master. If only Bobby would just disappear, everyone's problems would be solved. She and Marty meet at the beach one day, and it is decided that Bobby Kent must die. Lisa calls Alli back at her home in Palm Bay, and Alli agrees to help out, bringing her stoner friends Heather and Donny along for the ride. With Lisa's cousin Derek and a "hitman" that they hire to bring a more professional flair to their plan, the seven murderous young people set out to end Bobby's life. One summer night at the beach, their plot is successful, and the events that follow will transform them from a group of aimless suburban misfits to the defendants of one of the most shocking murder trials in American history.
Based on the 1993 murder of Bobby Kent in Hollywood, Florida, Larry Clark's Bully is not for the faint of heart. In the tradition of his 1995 film Kids, Clark makes no attempt to sugarcoat the daily lives of heedless youth gone bad. Graphic scenes of sex, drugs, violence, and full on nudity--all set to a soundtrack of hardcore gangster rap--add to this tale of South Florida in the eyes of a decadent teenager. The gritty scenes of teens screaming out for help through all of their actions--whether they be having sex, getting high, or beating each other up--cause the audience to want to turn away, but also hold on tightly to the kids to keep them from slipping away. The standout performance of the film goes to Nick Stahl (Disturbing Behavior), who manages to play Bobby Kent with such an intolerable cruelty that you almost cannot wait to see him killed, yet as he is dying on the beach, you feel enough sympathy for his character to want to reach out and defend him. Late child actor Brad Renfro (The Client) is superb as the abused Marty Puccio, and indie favorite Michael Pitt (Last Days, Funny Games) succeeds in stealing every scene in which he appears and adding a hint of comic relief as Alli's drug-addled flavor-of the-week and co-conspirator Donny Semenec. I recommend Bully for anyone who loves a good true crime case or a story of reckless youth. After watching this film, all age groups will experience a change in how they live their lives. Not only will teenagers pay more attention to whom they choose as their friends, but parents will likely take a more intrusive role in the lives of their children to prevent such a horrific tragedy from playing out within their own families. If you only knew what your kids could be plotting behind closed doors...