Friday, July 3, 2015

All American Bully (Wild Eye Releasing DVD)

I haven’t watched a movie that spoke to my seventeen year old self in quite some time. In the case of All American Bully I relieved at least three instances where I the butt end of  some serious bullying that made me the angry young man I am today. Have I let it go? Maybe not as much I would like. I still remember a pair of lunatic assholes jumping me the parking lot in high school and shredding my Black Flag hat. I also remember not fighting back and saying “forget it” a lot after it happened. I didn’t want to escalate the situation and quite honestly I didn’t know if I could even take one of them  in a fight much less two. I was pretty terrified. What amazes me about All American Bully from Wild Eye Releasing is that it actually seems to show the alternate reality of what could have happened that day if I had put up a fight post-hat destruction. 

From Wild Eye Releasing:

Three friends try to cope after one of them is victimized by a bully, and their lives are slowly torn apart as the they fall deeper into a twisted web of buried secrets, ignorance, and revenge. Through it all, Principal Kane (King) rules her small town high school with an iron fist, teaching harsh lessons to students and faculty alike. The vicious cycle leads to a disturbing and violent conclusion where it turns out no one is truly innocent.

The big draw for this picture seems to be the appearance of Adrienne King, famous for her role in the original Friday the 13th and her delightful wines, but she really only plays a small part in the picture albeit well. The real stars of the show are a group of nerdy, gamer friends who walk to high school together and pretty much epitomize the term outsiders. They are a friendly dork crew with the best of hearts and the best of friendships. You truly feel as though you are watching a group of chums pal around. Of course the other side of the coin, the bullies are just as good. While you won’t know any of the names of any of the performers in this picture, their performances are spot on as ruthless, motivated, animosity filled thugs. With a crew like this there’s always more than meets the eye, and as the movie carries out its almost obvious dirge toward conflict, you’ll see what truly motivates the antagonists beyond an unhealthy love of cocaine.

What resonates for me is the accuracy in this picture. Each aspect of the bully/victim relationship is spot on and each characteristic of the victim and bully nearly match some of my own experiences. An audience who has been in either of these situations should be able to identify with one of the characters easily (for better or for worse). I do take issue with some of the loose ends or underused characters in the picture (the principal and teacher in particular), but it really doesn’t matter once you hit the final act. All American Bully explodes into a violent, emotional storm that doesn’t end until you have to deal with some particular disturbing concepts and a brutal rape. All American Bully displays well that the motives beyond the bully can be just as important as the rights of the victim in trying to quell this type of behavior. It’s easy to identify and empathize with the victim, but All American Bully will ask you to do the same for the attacker. Be prepared for some emotional conflict that you may not actually feel resolved.

You know there’s a bit of an addendum to my “hat story”. I found out later that the two jerks who attacked me carried knives regularly. That they had no conscious about pulling them on people and furthermore that they had done so in the past. When I think about the situation in this picture, the very thing that creates the conflict and ultimately leads our protagonists down a wicked path, it very well could have been the same outcome for me in high school. All American Bully is a hard movie to watch and despite a few minor issues, I think it’s an excellent independent dramatic effort with some moments of really real horror and a pile of young folks who need to be in more movies. Wild Eye Releasing found a particular relevant and well created film in All American Bully. It’s a cautionary tale in part and it’s a story that shows just how complex the human situation can be.

You can order All American Bully now from Wild Eye Releasing. Be warned, this is not a feel good movie and you never get the revenge you think you want (especially as a former victim).

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