'Bully' Film Gets R Rating, But You Should Take Your Kids Anyway (VIDEO)

Flicks 10

Bully sounds like an amazing and heartbreaking film. The documentary follows five kids and their families over the course of a school year, examining the epidemic of adolescent bullying in America and the dire consequences that can happen as a result. Like the nearly incomprehensibly tragic death of Ty Smalley, who was just 11 years old when he committed suicide.    

The intention was for Bully to reach young kids who would hopefully benefit the most from seeing the movie -- the studio was even planning to screen it at a variety of middle and high schools. Unfortunately, despite the best efforts of at least one big-name Hollywood producer, Bully's MPAA rating prevents it from being seen by the very audience it was intended for.

While the movie’s website currently describes the film as not yet rated, the MPAA recently gave Bully an R rating for "some language." It's unclear how much strong language is included, or which specific words tipped the rating from PG-13 to R, but the restrictive rating clearly limits who can see the movie.

Producer Harvey Weinstein
called for an appeal on the R rating -- going so far as to argue his case before the ratings board on Thursday, and even bringing along one of the bullied kids from the film to deliver a personal plea. In a statement he made a few days ago, Weinstein said:

I want every child, parent, and educator in America to see Bully, so it is imperative for us to gain a PG-13 rating. It's better that children see bad language than bad behavior, so my wish is that the MPAA considers the importance of this matter as we make this appeal.

Apparently the final vote was one short of the number needed to reverse the decision, so the R rating stuck. The MPAA responded:

Bullying is a serious issue and is a subject that parents should discuss with their children. The MPAA agrees with the Weinstein Company that Bully can serve as a vehicle for such important discussions. The MPAA also has the responsibility, however, to acknowledge and represent the strong feedback from parents throughout the country who want to be informed about content in movies, including language.

Weinstein is so upset about the decision he's threatening to take a leave of absence from the MPAA, which is interesting, since his company isn't actually a member. What that would actually mean is that he'd stop submitting movies from The Weinstein Co. to be rated, thus releasing films as unrated, thus cutting off his profits. I CALL BULLSHIT.

At any rate, I think it's too bad the film earned the restrictive rating, especially considering the language in the film is likely to be epithets used against victims. Verbal abuse is part of what makes bullying so intolerable, and it's important to understand the cruel nature of what's being said to these kids.

That said, if the way for this film to reach a broader audience is to use less cuss words, well, the film's creators should go back to the editing room. Because I actually agree with the MPAA here, they can't bend the rules based on a film's supposed merit.

Whatever happens with Bully, I'm actually glad this controversy over the rating came to light, because I think it gives the film more publicity. Here's the trailer, which is pretty powerful on its own:

Do you think the MPAA should have changed the rating for Bully?

Image via YouTube

trailers, movies, bullies, tough topics


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jessi... jessicasmom1

Bully issues are everywhere , and it is sad to see this going on everyday ,,, maybe a pg 13 .... rating would have been better

Melan... Melanie420

insted of stuff like this why dont parents take their kids to self defense lessons, thats what ill do for my son and if anyone tries to bully him he will kick the ever living shit out of them, I hate when schools sit there and go "if someone hits you, dont hit them back, just tell us" what does that teach kids? to be tattle tales and wimps, but not my son

Lovin... LovingKentucky

I teared up just watching the preview!  I agree that the MPAA is doing their job...there would be backlash either way the decision fell. 

Tia Case

Rules are rules, which sucks. My kids will be seeing it either way, but it does suck they can't show it in schools considering the kids who really need to be seeing it most likely won't be paying to see it..

Zyva Zyva

@Melanie - In Self Defense Classes you are taught NOT to react in anger and violence, but rather confront someone physically attacking you, not emotionally. No one should solve problems by 'kicking the ever living s**t out of them". Ever. 

Regardless if the movie is R or not, you can take your children to see it so long as they are with you. The ratings mean that they could not see it alone, but with parental supervision you can. I think it's a sad state of affairs when we need to watch a movie to address something. 

nonmember avatar Emily

I can understand wanting your son to be able to protect himself but turning him into a bully himself is hardly something to be proud of. I worry about my kids being bullied a lot more than I care to. And my heart breaks to pieces for these kids who are being relentlessly torn apart. But I would rather my children come through with out dropping to the level of the bully. I think schools need to do more. I think our government needs to do more. I also think that excuses like ' boys will be boys ' and ' kids are just nasty at this age' should be wiped out. there is too much intolerance in this world. And violence only breeds more violence.

nonmember avatar Lisa

I think it's a shame that schools are not showing that to the students. It's stupid to use the foul language as an excuse. Bullies use this language to make the victim feel threatened and themselves seem tough. So that's exactly why schools should show the film regardless.

ashja ashja

God save Melanie's son from his mother.

nonmember avatar Nancy

Melanie was probably a big mean bully herself...hatred breeds more hatred. She needs to see this movie desperately....

nonmember avatar Alex

Rules are rules are fine if the MPAA *had* a set standard for movies. They don't. They have a general criteria that is based on OPINION. And different groups have different people. It's how you can get a movie like Lost in Translation an R when it has no violence or language, and just a brief glimpse of boob. Or It's Complicated, which got an R because they "Used pot with no repercussions". But then a movie like Poltergeist gets a PG when a dude PULLS HIS FACE OFF. WUT.
What makes sense about a movie with some swearing on it that teaches children how bullying can affect others and why it should not happen, warrant the SAME rating as a movie like Kill Bill?
The MPAA is a joke. They should have given an exception. By this point, editing the movie to get rid of the language would have cost thousands of dollars. The rating is one of the LAST parts of the process before it hits theaters. It's why you see trailers of films with "This film is not yet rated" The best solution would of been the MPAA to get of their high horse and just given the movie a PG-13. It's LANGUAGE. You honestly think these middle school and high school aged kids haven't heard this language before? It's in the movie because it's said in the schools! They would be seeing on film what they already heard in school because it's being filmed in a school! It's utterly ridiculous.

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