Today's Box Office: 'Bully' an eye opener, 'Think like a Man' delivers laughs | News
You've probably heard about the controversy over the film Bully. It's a very in your face, emotional documentary about the growing epidemic of bullying in our schools. The Motion Picture Association (the organization that gives movies their rating) gave Bully an 'R" rating. That meant target audience (teens and their parents) wouldn't be able to see it or they'd have more trepidation about it. It also meant that theaters would offer less showings or likely not show it all because when a movie is rated "R" half the audience is eliminated from seeing it. The movements started with a young lady creating an online petition and it grew to a movement signed by over 500,000 people and members of Congress getting involved. Eventually, the MPAA caved and after three uses of the "F" word were cut from the film it was granted a "PG-13" rating.
Director Lee Hirsch has an interesting take on it.
"Bullying has a lot to do with the words that are used and this film has powers because it's real because it shows you what's there and what happens. Um, you know, this captured people's anger, their frustration about the ratings system but moreover about Bullying and got people talking...so I think that the scene was a huge victory for people across this country that have this story, that care about this issue, but that also are sick of the double standard from the MPAA where they're told, Hunger Games, which is entertaining and glorifies the murder of 20 plus kids gets a "PG-13" and a movie like Bully would get an "R". It just made no sense and this was a great victory for us. We're very proud that film is released "PG-13".
Bully tells the story from the victim's side. We're introduced to parents who have lost a child, a mother whose child is in juvenile detention because she took a gun to school and confronted her bullies, and to a 13-year old who is different from other kids but it's no wonder, because as the victim of such horrific and constant bullying, he can't interact with his peers. In between the main stories we meet an Assistant Principal who is clueless about what's going on in her school and is even more clueless on how to deal with it. When she's confronted with a bullying situation, she tells the boys to shake hands and drop it. Even when the victim says the other boys had been bullying him and no one has done anything about it, she puts the blame back on him for being reluctant to apologize to his bully. We also see other instances that have been caught on camera showing that bullying is almost a systemic problem that permeates itself on different levels. Ranging from kids were laughing at another child to telling a kid "he should go hang himself".
Bully will break your heart for these children. It will also make you angry and frustrated by the system. It's hard not to be sad to think that if just one person (a teacher, parent, coach, bus driver, other student, etc) had just intervened then tragedy might have been prevented and change could have been intitated. One action in the case of Tyler Long by anyone in the position to stop the bullying could have literally saved his life. Instead, he hung himself in his own closet, a few days after kids at school someone told him that he should do it because no one liked him.
It's infuriating and it's inexcusable for this to continue in our schools and that's what the makers of this film want the viewer to take away. Don't stand for the "boys will be boys" or the "we'll tke care of it" song and dance. Ask questions. Follow up. Be a part of your kids' lives. Stand up for the them. Fight for them.
My wife and I have talked about the movie and wondered if we should take the boys to see it. I would take our oldest but I'd have to do some hard thinking about the youngest. Even though it's a topic that we should be having conversations over, you have to know your children and know how they handle things. It's important to talk with your kids before the movie to make sure they understand that's all real and even more important to talk with them afterwards and reinforce the messages of the film.
Bully is eye-opening, heart breaking, and frustrating all at the same time but more important it a conversation that should all have and for that reason I give it 11 stars out of 11.
On to a lighter side of the weekend, Think like a Man is the funniest movie I've seen all year. It's based on the lessons of comedian Steve Harvey's book "Act like a Lady, Think like a Man" and follows different archtypes of men and women described in the book and explores in a very funny way, how they meet and interact with each other. It has a great core cast of Michael Ealy, Jerry Ferrara, Meagan Good, Regina Hall, Traji P. Henson, Terrence Jenkins, Romany Malco, Gary Owen, and Gabrielle Union but he star has to be Kevin Hart as the "happily divorced man". He's really the only one with comedic experience so most of the jokes center around him.
So, we get to follow 5 "man" friends who, even though we can't figure out who or why they hang out with each other, are a tight knit group and fall into one of many of Steve Harvey's classifications and we get to meet their counterparts. The females who fit into one of the classifications and have all, after seeing Harvey on TV, gotten their hands on his book. They put it to use on the men who while on their way to a strip club to celebrate the "happily divorced" man's freedom all realize that their significant others are using the book on them. So they decide to turn the tables and use the book against the women. Got that? It sounds more confusing than it is because the purpose of the film is for you to just go and laugh. That's exactly what you should do.
I give Think like a Man 9 stars out of 11.
Think like a Man is a great date movie but it will be around for a while because it has heavy studio and theater backing. If Bully doesn't have a good opening weekend, it won't be at theaters very long. My opinion is to keep the conversation going and by seeing Think like a Man next week.