All American Bully
By Grace Montgomery,
Common Sense Media Reviewer
Common Sense Media Reviewers
Disturbing indie thriller has rape, intense violence.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Understanding that everyone can be bullied, even bullies themselves, is necessary to overcome the cycle of bullying. But message becomes convoluted when everyone becomes a bully and there are no solutions offered.
Positive Role Models
No real role models here, especially not among the adults.
Violence & Scariness
Lots of extreme, disturbing violence, including someone holding a knife to his wrist, bullies brutally beating another kid, a character being choked to death, and some intense gun violence. A kid's mom rapes him and makes him sleep with adult men (not shown, just described). Talk of molestation.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Characters are shown having sex, though without full nudity. Jokes about masturbation. Kids are repeatedly mocked and shamed for being "fags" or "fairies."
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Lots of profanity, including "f--k" many times. Offensive terms such as "faggot," "fag," "whore," and "c--t."
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Products & Purchases
Reference to Dungeons and Dragons.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
College-age kids drink and do lines of cocaine.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that All American Bully is an indie thriller about bullying with a small cameo by Friday the 13th's Adrienne King. This intense and graphic film is not for kids due to the extremely disturbing violence (including a brutal rape scene), subject matter (suicide, incest, and molestation all are present), and language (including lots of "f--k"). There's also some drugs and alcohol. Although the film does try to make a statement about bullying -- that the lines between bully and bullied are very thin and that social media exacerbates bullying -- it's mostly lost in the gratuitously graphic violence and subject matter.
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Where to Watch
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All American Bully
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What's the Story?
In ALL AMERICAN BULLY, Devon (Alexander Fraser) and his nerdy friends fly under the radar at their high school and are content to sit around playing video games and Dungeons and Dragons. That is, until his former friend John (Daren Ackerman) and his college friends viciously beat Devon and post a video of it on social media, forcing him to claim he's gay. Devon's dad chastises him for not "manning up," and the high school principal (Adrienne King) is mostly concerned that Devon's supposed sexuality will ruin his life. Devon and his friends realize they have to take matters into their own hands to beat the bullies at their own game. But as the lines start to blur about who the victim really is, the situation quickly gets dangerously out of control.
Is It Any Good?
Although it seems like it's trying to make a statement about social media and bullying, most of what the film has to say is lost under the horrifying violence that has no resolution. Everyone is a bully in All American Bully, even if they think they're doing it for a righteous reason, and no one wins. But it's hard to know what we're supposed to take from it. According to the film, kids can't turn to adults for help, but trying to solve the problem themselves results in truly disturbing consequences such as rape or murder. It's hard to know what the point is.
Fans of thrillers may be disappointed with the slow pacing of the first half of the film, though they'll no doubt be impressed with Daren Ackerman's powerful portrayal of the bully John. And parents looking for a sobering example of the evils of bullying should definitely steer clear of this film.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about bullying. Have you seen bullying in your school? How should kids get help for bullying? What can you do to prevent bullying?
In the film, the adults don't have concrete ways to deal with bullying or are, in fact, bullies themselves. How do you think adults can help combat bullying among kids and themselves?
What role does social media play in bullying? How can we limit social media's role in bullying?
- In theaters: August 4, 2011
- On DVD or streaming: June 23, 2015
- Cast: Adrienne King, Daren Ackerman, Alexander Fraser
- Director: Jason Hawkins
- Studio: Wild Eye Releasing
- Genre: Thriller
- Run time: 90 minutes
- MPAA rating: NR
- Last updated: April 1, 2022
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.
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