A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Stresses importance of role models, mentors, and trusted adults in teens' lives. Kris lacks strong, unconditional bonds within her family. Shows how easily vulnerable teens can be manipulated into risky behavior. Consequences of drug and alcohol use (and dealing) are evident.
Positive Role Models
Main characters make iffy choices, but Abe is a determined, disciplined bull rider who grows to care for Kris in a mentoring/friend sense. Kristal loves her mother unconditionally and grows to respect and care for Abe. Cast is diverse and portrays the struggles of a working-class White family and the Black rodeo circuit.
Violence & Scariness
Abe, who's already injured, is hurt by a bull and left in even worse shape. Teens make a huge mess, destroying Abe's property. A scene shows chickens that died from pills accidentally left in their chicken coop. A character pays for a painkiller to ease his injuries. Kris' mother admits she was in a fight with a fellow inmate and accidentally hit a guard. Threats/arguments.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
One fairly long sex scene between consenting adults; it includes partial nudity, passionate kissing, moaning, and more on a bed. A teen boy asks a girl to warm up her hands on his penis, pointing at it and pushily telling her how to use her hands.
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Frequent strong language includes "f--k," "motherf----r," "s--t," "bitch," "goddamn," "dips--t," "damn," "stupid," "d--k," "son of a bitch," and the "N" word (at least three times).
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
At a party, teens smoke pot and drink beer and hard liquor. They also take a homeowner's prescription opioids. Teens drink and smoke pot on other occasions, and a few characters sell oxycodone.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Bull is an independent drama about the unlikely friendship between a working-class 14-year-old girl (Amber Havard) whose mom is in jail and her bull-riding neighbor (Rob Morgan). Directed and co-written by Annie Silverstein, the movie deals with mature issues including class, race, substance use/abuse, and loneliness. Expect frequent strong language, including "f--k," "motherf----r," "s--t," "bitch," and the "N" word. Teens, some as young as 14, drink beer and hard liquor, smoke pot, take prescription drugs, and even sell opioids for easy cash. Two teens engage in a sexual act, and two adults make love (partial nudity, moaning, etc.). With its serious themes and character study-based plotline, Bull is the kind of movie that will appeal more to adults and older teens than to younger viewers. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
Director Annie Silverstein's well-acted, intimate drama explores an intergenerational friendship between two lonely people on the fringes of American society. Not a whole lot happens in Bull, but there's definitely a lot to unpack in what does. The film delves into everything from the impact of having an incarcerated parent to the opioid crisis to the casual racism of poor Whites to a peek inside the subculture of Black rodeos. Both central characters are flawed and make iffy decisions (Kris in particular), but there's an inherent realism to their actions that's borne of despair, loss, and loneliness. Silverstein (who also co-wrote the screenplay with Johnny McAllister) commendably navigates the characters' sadness without exploiting it.
Newcomer Havard is noticeably good as a disillusioned girl who misses her jailed mother terribly and obviously wants an adult to care for her like she sees her grandmother care for her little sister. And Morgan, who's consistently impressive in all of his roles, doesn't disappoint as a rodeo cowboy who's past his prime and bearing the chronic pain of his profession. Their relationship is uneasy and uncomfortable at first, but it soon becomes an unconventional mentor/mentee dynamic. Kris knows how to inject a needle and make a hangover cure; Abe has a low tolerance for Kris' mistakes but continues to forgive her. Despite their differences, they find a sense of kinship and community that they both need.
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.