A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Grown-ups supposedly caring for kids can be utterly clueless.
Positive Role Models
Although a seemingly nice enough girl, Charlotte displays repeated bad judgment. She encounters problems that are beyond her ability as a 12-year-old to solve on her own, but she keeps them secret from the adults in her life.
An Asian Australian family is portrayed as loving and cohesive, but the parents seem clueless about the bullying their daughter is experiencing. An Asian middle schooler is bullied, called racist epithets by a White middle schooler. A child sexual predator is a White male. Although the child doing the bullying sometimes uses racist epithets, she seems like a cruel person who might intimidate anyone she doesn't like -- i.e., the bullied girl's Asian heritage doesn't seem to be the main reason she's being attacked. It requires a close, slow-motion look at a crowd of students egging on the bully to notice that the victim is the only Asian child. The writer-director is Singaporian but grew up in Australia, where she faced bullying.
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Violence & Scariness
A student takes a photo of a 12-year-old on the toilet, threatens to post it on social media. A 12-year-old girl is mercilessly bullied by a peer at school, then blamed by the school while the bully is praised. A girl beats up another girl. A boy is beaten, kicked, called names by a group of schoolboys. A girl threatens another with a weapon. The two wrestle and one falls, hitting her head. A man is kicked in the face, knocked down. He bleeds profusely. An angry father punches a man in the face. A sexual predator attacks two adolescent girls. He starts to unzip his pants but is stopped when someone assaults him. Intruder hit over the head and knocked out. While a girl is publicly bullied and mocked in the schoolyard, a crowd of middle school students gather to watch and cheer; no one steps in to stop the fight. A 12-year-old girl goes missing but is later found.
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Infrequent use of "f--k," "s--t," "bitch," "f-g," "piss," "dipstick," and racial epithets "chink" and "ching-chang."
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Adults drink alcohol to excess. They tout it so highly that a 12-year-old steals whiskey and drinks too much. An adult smokes cigarettes in secret. A teenaged girl smokes a cigarette.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Bullied is a 2021 teen drama set in Australia, originally titled Rock Sugar, that focuses on the difficulty adolescents have in handling bullying. A fellow student takes a photo of a 12-year-old on the toilet and threatens to post it on social media. A vicious middle schooler physically and psychologically attacks a classmate who doesn't tell teachers or parents. Note that the bully is White and her victim is Asian. Kids are beaten up while other students cheer. A sexual predator attacks two young girls but is thwarted. Language includes "f--k," "s--t," "bitch," "f-g," "piss," and "dipstick" and racial epithets "chink" and "ching-chang." Adults drink alcohol to excess, unknowingly encouraging a child to drink alcohol as well. An adult smokes cigarettes. A teen smokes a cigarette. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
Writer-director Angela How mistakenly claims that Bullied is a "thriller," which demonstrates an unfamiliarity with the essential ingredients of that genre. The film does attempt to address some social ills, but no single issue is examined in depth. Lots are lightly glossed over -- bullying, violence, sexual predation, child rape -- and viewers may develop whiplash as they try to keep up with the point How is trying to make. She worked with a low budget, so it is no surprise that the cast seems inexperienced.
On the other hand, the script offers the actor little to work with. For the most part, Charlotte is a largely vacant character who we hardly get to know, and what we do know paints her as unsympathetic, sullen, impatient with her little sister -- someone who rarely has anything nice to say to anyone. An abrupt change in the direction of the plot also gives us two unresolved issues, both of which could have been addressed by a more skilled screenwriter. Even when moments of resolution are attempted, the filmmaker seemingly claws them back, as when it appears that someone thanks Charlotte for her assistance. Immediately following, deliberate camerawork suggests Charlotte imagined that episode of gratitude, leaving us puzzled. Most disappointing is that there's no indication that Charlotte's repeated bad judgment leads to her understanding that she might have handled things differently or that she in any detectable way grows from her experiences. On the plus side, this is remarkably well shot, given its low budget.
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.