The kids aren't alright in director Larry (Kids") Clark's world, and this time around, in "Bully," they not only have sex and drugs on their minds but also murder.
Based on the book "Bully: A True Story of High School Revenge," by Jim Schutze, the film quickly introduces the physical and emotional abuse carried out on South Florida teen Marty (Brad Renfro) by his "best friend" Bobby (Nick Stahl). Bobby constantly slings insults at Marty, forces him to strip in gay nightclubs, punches him in the face at the drop of a hat, and rapes Marty's girlfriend, Lisa (Rachel Miner).
Fed up with the abuse, Lisa (who isn't treated much better by Marty) has had enough and wants Bobby dead. She enlists a motley assortment of wayward teens to carry out the dastardly -- and sloppily accomplished -- deed, including her libidinous female friend Ali (Bijou Phillips).
While some of Clark's motives may be questionable, such as when he lets his camera linger lecherously on the panty-clad crotch of Phillips, he's a master at eliciting naturalistic performances from his talented crew of young actors. He also subtly and effectively conveys the broad gap between the teens and their out-of-touch parents -- a gap that leads to the morally troublesome decisions of the younger ones.
Trimark Home Video initially announced that the DVD would include commentary by Clark, but it is absent from the final product. Instead, the disc contains mildly informative interviews with Clark and the cast. A "music-only audio track" is included, although the rap soundtrack for the film hardly merits it. The disc also provides real 1993 mugshots of the killers depicted in the story, as well as web links to information about their terms of incarceration.
The liberties taken with the true story have been a point of contention with many of the actual persons involved, but the film's powerful portrayal of the moral quagmire of alienated youth makes it a cinematic experience not easily dismissed. Since "Bully" never played theatrically in Orlando, the DVD release is the first chance for local audiences to see it.