Lee Hirsch's Bully, which screened at the San Diego Film Festival last September, has been in the news in recent weeks because the Motion Picture Association of America (MMPA) insisted on giving it an R rating over the use of the word “fuck.” That decision would've taken it out of reach of an enormous number of teenagers who really should see the film. In the end, though, a groundswell of sup port for the movie seems to have been successful—Bully, which opens Friday, April 13, at Hillcrest Cinemas and AMC La Jolla, has been shifted to PG-13.
Hirsch's film is essentially a piece of anti-bullying advocacy, humanizing an unseemly part of life by following several families whose children have committed suicide or who are in the midst of being bullied. There's Alex, a socially awkward 12-year-old who's regularly harassed on the school bus, and Kelby, a gay 16-year-old who's shunned by her Oklahoma community. And there's Ja'Maya, who pulled a gun on her tormentors when she'd been pushed too far.
These kids generally live in the heartland, and it's heartbreaking to see what they're going through. And it's infuriating, because so many adults in positions of authority are unable to properly address the issue and often blame the victim. Bully is a call to action, one that will impact plenty of people emo tionally.
With any luck, that'll make a difference in some kids' lives.
One thing that Bully doesn't address, sadly, is the bully. It doesn't explore who the bullies are and why they do what they do. It's hinted at, sure—uninvolved parents, kids will be kids, etc.—but the root causes aren't examined on a systemic level. In fact, we almost never see the bullies themselves. We must protect children who are vulnerable—of that there is no doubt. But we also must sort out why bullies bully.
Bad Ass: With a title like that, you know Danny Trejo has to be in it.
Blue Like Jazz: A 19-year-old raised in the Bible Belt ditches his Texas Christian college for the inclement weather of the Pacific Northwest—where he finds God, or something.
The Cabin in the Woods: This satirical deconstruction of the horror movie, from Joss Whedon and Lost veteran Drew Goddard, is one hell of a lot of fun. See our review.
Damsels in Distress: Whit Stillman's first film in almost 15 years, about preppy college girls and their need to belong to something, is just as precious as his previous work, but not quite as fresh.
Deadline: Eric Roberts is a world-weary reporter who takes a on a young journo (Steve Talley) while trying to solve a 20-year-old murder.
Detention: Everybody loves a comedy-horror film, and this one, which stars The Hunger Games' Josh Hutcherson as one of many students being pursued by a serial killer, fits the bill.
The Kid with a Bike: In the Dardenne brothers' latest film, the town's hairdresser agrees to look after an abandoned boy on weekends.
The Lady: Michelle Yeoh plays Burmese political prisoner Aung San Suu Kyi.
L!fe Happens: Krysten Ritter, who co-wrote the screenplay, struggles to stay besties with Kate Bosworth after she gets knocked up.
Lockout: In the future, Guy Pearce is wrongly convicted of espionage, but he's given a chance to clear his name if he can rescue the president's daughter from an outer-space prison totally controlled by the inmates. Or something like that.
The Three Stooges: The Movie: Yeah. This is happening.
Woman Thou Art Loosed: On the 7th Day: A husband and wife have a week to find their kidnapped daughter in this religiously affiliated film.
One Time Only
They Call It Myanmar: Lifting the Curtain: This documentary about the country formerly—and often still—known as “Burma” features narration and commentary from Aung San Suu Kyi, the activist whose political party just won an enormous election. Screens at 7 p.m. Wednesday, April 11, at Hillcrest Cinemas.
Pulp Fiction: Never mess with a guy who looks like Samuel L. Jackson and has a wallet that says “Bad Mother Fucker.” Screens at 8 p.m. Wednesday, April 11, at The Pearl Hotel in Point Loma. Free.
Captain Abu Raed: When a group of boys mistake an airport janitor for a pilot, he doesn't exactly set them straight. Part of the Coming of Age film series, it screens at 6 p.m. Thursday, April 12, at the Museum of Photographic Arts in Balboa Park.
Soul Kitchen: This charming German foodie movie about a restaurant owner who unwisely sets his lowlife brother up to manage his spot while he goes to China to save his relationship is presented as part of UCSD's ArtPower! Film Foovie series. A full meal is available to go along with it at 7 p.m. Thursday, April 12, at The Loft at UCSD.
Roman Holiday: Audrey hepburn won an Oscar playing the sheltered princess who escapes her minders and hooks up with newsman Gregory Peck. Screens at 7 p.m. Thursday, April 12, at Reading Cinemas Town Square in Clairemont.
My Own Private Idaho: Gus Van Sant's strange re-telling of Shakespeare's Henry IV stars River Phoenix as a male prostitute in Portland who suffers from narcolepsy and aligns himself with rich kid Keanu Reeves. Screens at 2:30 p.m. Friday, April 13, at the Central Library, Downtown. Free.
Refugees in Cinecitt: The San Diego Italian Film Festival presents Marco Bertozzi's documentary about the conversion of one of Europe's biggest movie studios, Cinecitt, into a refugee camp. Bertozzi will be on hand for a post-screening talk. Film rolls at 7 p.m. Friday, April 13, at the Museum of Photographic Arts in Balboa Park.
The Adventures of Tin-Tin: Some of the motion-capture in Spielberg's adaptation of the Belgian graphic novels is extraordinary. Fans of the source material may find the story lacking, however. Screens at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, April 13 and 14, at Cinema Under the Stars in Mission Hills.
It Happened One Night: After the public discovered Clark Gable wasn't wearing an undershirt in this romantic classic, sales of undershirts dropped precipitously. Screens at 7 p.m. Saturday and Tuesday, April 14 and 17, at Reading Cinemas Gaslamp.
Hell and Back Again: This Oscar-nominated documentary examines what soldiers go through after their tours in Afghanistan. Screens at 6:30 p.m. Monday, April 16, at the Central Library, Downtown. Free.
The Hungry Tide: Documentary about Maria Tiimon, who represented the tiny island nation of Kiribati at the Copenhagen Climate Change Conference, where she tried to explain that global warming and rising sea levels could literally destroy her home. Screens at 7 p.m. Monday, April 16, at La Jolla Village Cinemas.
Charade: Audrey hepburn simply has to trust Cary Grant when her husband is murdered and lots of bad guys are after the cash he'd amassed. Screens at 7 p.m. Monday, April 16, at Reading Cinemas Town Square in Clairemont.
The Revolutionary Optimists: Directors Maren Grainger-Monson and Nicole Newham will be on hand for this documentary about Amlan Ganguly, a social entrepreneur who's made an enormous difference in the lives of children in Calcutta. Screens at 8 p.m. Tuesday, April 17, at The Loft at UCSD.
Cry-Baby: Johnny Depp stars in John Waters' flick about a bad boy who sets out to win the heart of a very good girl. Presented by FilmOut at 7 p.m. Wednesday, April 18, at the Birch North Park Theatre.
Three Stooges short films: Miguel Rodriguez, the guy behind the horror-film festival Horrible Imaginings, will show a number of shorts to coincide with the big-screen remake that's hitting theaters this week. At Whistle Stop Bar in South Park at 8 p.m. Wednesday, April 18. Free.
Garden State: Zach Braff used to be the shit. Screens at 8 p.m. Wednesday, April 18, at The Pearl Hotel in Point Loma. Free.
American Reunion: There was a time when everyone who starred in American Pie was a star. Nowadays, they need the work.
Delicacy: Audrey Tautou (Amelie) is mourning her dead husband when she's wooed by a Swedish co-worker.
Free Men: An Algerian immigrant living in Paris during WWII finds himself joining the Resistance after he befriends a Jewish guy. Ends April 12 at the Ken Cinema.
Goon: It's no Slap Shot, but this hockey comedy starring Seann William Scott as a minor league enforcer has a soft heart amid the broken teeth and blood on the ice. Ends April 12 at Hillcrest Cinemas.
Housefull 2: This Bollywood action-comedy is, you guessed it, a sequel.
Nameless Gangster: In this Korean gangster flick set in the 1990s, a customs agent who's about to be fired decides to go into business for himself after stumbling upon a huge cache of drugs.
Titanic 3D: The ship still sinks.
The Trouble with Bliss: Dexter's Michael C. Hall stars as an unhappy loser who lives with his dad (Peter Fonda) and screws things up by dating an 18-year-old.
Detachment: Tony Kaye's first film since American History X—which stars Adrian Brody as a substitute teacher in New York City doing his best not to become attached to anything—is a disappointment.
The Deep Blue Sea: Rachel Weisz, in a loveless marriage to a judge in post-war England, meets a hot former fighter pilot who spells all kinds of trouble.
Mirror Mirror: Julia Roberts is an evil queen, while Lily Collins is the plucky princess trying to get her kingdom back.
The Raid: Redemption: Despite a fairly thin story and a title that sounds like it's a sequel, this Indonesian action film delivers, as a SWAT team finds itself trapped in a high-rise full of bad guys.
Wrath of the Titans: By Hades! Another one?
Footnote: This Israeli film, about a father and son who teach in the same department at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, was nominated for Best Foreign Language Oscar. Ends April 12 at Pacific Town Square.
The Hunger Games: The most anticipated movie of the year to date is about a dystopian future where teens like Jennifer Lawrence and Josh Hutcherson are forced to kill one another to stay alive.
Jiro Dreams of Sushi: This fine little documentary profiles Jiro Ono, widely considered to be one of the finest sushi chefs on the planet.
Norwegian Wood: Director Anh Hung Tran adapted Haruki Murakami's beloved ode to Tokyo in the '60s for the screen.
Salmon Fishing in the Yemen: Ewan McGregor is a fisheries expert hired to help a sheik populate a river in Yemen with salmon. Along the way, he falls for Emily Blunt.
21 Jump Street: Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum star in a comedy do-over of the undercover-cops-in-high-school TV show that launched Johnny Depp's career.
Casa De Mi Padre: Will Ferrell's latest comedy is in Spanish. That's not a joke.
Jeff, Who Lives at Home: Jason Segal is Jeff, a slacker who lives in his parents' basement until his brother (Ed Helms) takes him on an adventure, because he thinks he's being cheated on.
Miss Bala: Young Laura is desperate to win a beauty pageant, despite the corruption and violence in her native Mexico.
Friends With Kids: Adam Scott and Jennifer Westfeldt, who also directed, play best friends who decide to have a kid together while keeping their relationship platonic.
John Carter: This epic 3-D sci-fi adventure stars Taylor Kitsch (Friday Night Lights) as a Civil War veteran transported to Mars. It's directed by Andrew Stanton, who also made Finding Nemo and Wall*E, but it's much more traditional than either of those.
Silent House: Elizabeth Olsen is in a lakeside house trapped by something scary.
Project X: Todd Phillips, the guy behind Old School and The Hangover, produces this R-rated teen comedy about a monster party that totally turns into every parent's worst nightmare.
Coral Reef Adventures: Skip the SCUBA lessons and go underwater in this gorgeous IMAX film screening at the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center in Balboa Park.
Dr. Seuss' The Lorax: Let's hope the voice talents of Zac Efron and Taylor Swift don't overshadow the good Doctor's environmental message.
Rampart: The first time Oren Moverman made a movie (The Messenger), Woody Harrelson got an Oscar nomination. Here, Harrelson shines as a bad cop in Moverman's second feature, which was co-written by James Ellroy, a guy who knows a thing or two about writing about bad cops.
Secret of the Cardboard Rocket: Two kids build a rocket in their garage and end up in outer space in this IMAX film screening Saturday mornings in March at the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center in Balboa Park.
Act of Valor: Navy SEALS go after a bunch of brown-skinned guys who have kidnapped a CIA agent. The movie stars real-life SEALS, so it's worth wondering if it's an action movie or a recruitment video.
Tyler Perry's Good Deeds: Depending upon your point of view, his good deeds may not include making movies.
Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance: Man, Nicolas Cage must really need the money.
This Means War: Chris Pine and Tom Hardy are secret-agent best friends who face off against each other when they both fall for Reese Witherspoon while trying to capture a Eurotrash terrorist. It's as stupid as it sounds, but everyone is so good-looking and charming that you might be willing to overlook that.
Journey 2: Mysterious Island: Sort of a sequel to Journey to the Center of the Earth, in that it's an adaptation of a Jules Verne book made family-friendly and in 3-D.
Pina: Wim Wenders directed this film about dance legend Pina Bausch. Don't miss it, and make sure you see it in 3-D.
Safe House: Young CIA buck Ryan Reynolds must team up with wily veteran Denzel Washington to kill a bunch of bad guys.
The Vow: After Rachel McAdams loses her memory in a car crash, husband Channing Tatum has to make her fall in love with him again.
Black Holes: The Other Side of Infinity: Liam Neeson narrates this IMAX film, screening at the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center in Balboa Park.
A Separation: Lovely Iranian movie about a couple going through a divorce who have to endure that country's labyrinthine legal system when their housekeeper is injured. Just won the Golden Globe for Best Foreign Language Film.
The Artist: This silent film about a silent-film star (Jean Dujardin) whose world begins to collapse as the talkies take over is a fully realized vision and a legitimate Best Picture contender.
Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy: Gary Oldman is great as George Smiley, the semi-retired British spy brought back in to unmask a traitor during the Cold War, but the entire exercise is probably too slow for American audiences.
Hugo: Hell hath apparently frozen over—Martin Scorsese has made a 3-D PG family film.
The Descendants: Alexander Payne's first film since Sideways is more straightforward than his previous work, but just as rewarding. George Clooney's terrific as Matt King, a father trying to reconnect with his daughters after his wife's injured in an accident.
Boto be Wild 3-D: Despite sounding like yet another animated animal movie, this is an IMAX film about baby elephants and orangutans and the people who love them. Oh, and it's narrated by Morgan Freeman. Collective sigh for the baby monkeys, please.
The Rocky Horror Picture Show: The camp classic continues its ongoing run, Fridays at midnight at La Paloma Theatre in Encinitas.