Written and directed by Jason Hawkins, All American Bully dares to shine a light on what seems to have become an epidemic that knows no boundaries. With the internet, kids are now bullied 24/7 and can find no respite even at home. Using the normal stereotypes of what classifies a nerd and a bully, Hawkins attempts to explore bullying at a deeper level, but it ends up feeling a lot like we’re being subjected to him working out his own personal feelings about homosexuality.
Huh? Yeeeaaah…a movie about bullying contains an extraordinary amount of homophobia, excessive use of the F word (and I don’t mean Fuck), unnecessary sexual brutality and the underlying idea that sexual abuse is what leads to being gay.
With an obvious nod to The Last House on the Left, we have a rogue female in the mix who is just as, if not more, vicious than the men she hangs around with. She’s also always coked out of her mind, so maybe that explains away her behavior. Which brings me to my biggest complaint about this film: outside of the after-school-special level of acting, the notion that all bad behavior can be traced back to and blamed on something or someone else is an infuriatingly easy out. No one takes responsibility for their actions because everyone is a victim. Or is it because John might be gay? I mean, everything seems to come back to the shocking idea that he might be gay. Let me share some of the golden lines of dialogue from the film to illustrate my point.
Devon explains to Becky that at the age of 8, John kissed him. “He kissed me!” This is said with the same level of horror as “The house is on fire!”
“I don’t think you can be gay when you’re 12 years old.” is an actual line uttered in this film.
After two of our characters have sex, the boy is rewarded with this zinger;”Now I know you’re not gay.”
The best one of all, though, occurs during a truly despicable rape scene. In an effort to prove his masculinity to both his crazy, coked out girlfriend who is videotaping the whole incident and himself, John repeatedly screams, “I’m not fucking gay!” as he brutally rapes Becky. I cannot stress enough how brutal and unnecessary this rape scene is. Kudos to Rose for the way she handled it.
The violence that occurs in the woods among these teens is absolutely on par with Wes Craven’s rape revenge classic and this is not a compliment. The rape and violence in this movie feels as though it’s placed there simply for shock value and that is where my vitriol is coming from. To use sexual abuse as a blasé excuse for perpetuating sexual violence on others is just as insulting and unoriginal as the notion that all mother’s are the cause of men’s bad behavior. Wait. It was John’s mom who abused him, so I guess all moms really are the reason men behave badly.
Billed as the movie that features a rare appearance from Adrienne King of Friday the 13th fame, she plays the principal at the school where all of this nastiness goes down and she’s just as guilty of harboring an overwhelming aura of homophobia as everyone else. Rather than taking an insightful look at bullies, bullying and all of the horrible consequences, All American Bully uses boring cliches, shallow and offensive stereotypes and worst of all, violence for the sake of violence, to bring us a story that never really accomplishes anything outside of making the viewer feel they need to take a shower in an effort to wash all of this smut off of them.