Sunday, July 24, 2011

Straight-to-DVD: Dave Rodriguez's AMERICAN BULLY embarrasses badly


American Bully? More like a psychotic asshole who needs to be incarcerated forth-with. The original title of this shock-ingly unnecessary movie was Anytown (click on the link for the original poster), which should pretty much alert you to the subtlety-level on display through-out. (You mean, it could happen here? Sure could, kids!) Still, the movie is timely. Just this weekend, the new Mr. Norway snuffed out around 100 lives on the basis of some loony-tune political non-thinking. In his "new" film (made two years ago), director/co-writer (with Zak Meyers) Dave Rodriguez, pictured below, pulls out all the stops regarding bullying, immigration, terrorism, 9/11, the "Muslim menace" and America the ugly, and in the process creates so much noise and nonsense that you'll soon cry uncle.

Yes, bullying in high school can certainly lead to some nasty stuff, both at the time and later on, and you might even take our lead character (played with pretty much a single grim expression by Matt O'Leary, below) as a metaphor for the "red" half of our country. But so what? You'd still have to come up with a story that contained more than one thud-dingly obvious cliche after another in order to keep your audi-ence half-satisfied.

Here, the set-up is all bully, all the time, and Mr. O'Leary is as yet nowhere near an interesting, versatile or charaismatic enough actor to carry off a role like this. Consequently, his three friends (below) and the two girls who go off for a fuck-fest/trash-talk-the-immigrants afternoon are so poorly conceived that no real people can be developed. Lines of dialog are dropped into their mouths with little regard for consistency or character.

What we get for the first half of the movie is the usual boys behaving (very) badly scenario, followed by a second half that hands us kidnapping, murder, suicide, betrayal, the works. Except that, since we haven't remotely believed what's come before (except as a primer of cliche's seen in earlier, better films), putting us through the horror of what follows is like a near-constant slap in the kisser.

Technically, and construction-wise, the movie is a wasteland, too. The opening scene, involving an uncredited John Savage and a couple of sleek, lawyer-looking broads, seems inserted only to let us immediately know that something horrible has happened so we'll hang on through the slop that follows. Night scenes are so dark as to be a complete mystery, through which we have only some bad dialog to guide us. And the deserted house (below)? Is there a building in the movies of late that has called more attention to itself?

I cannot claim to fathom the motives of the people who made this movie, perhaps with what might be called the best of intentions. I can say, however, that what they've ended up giving us is a "kill-the-immigrants" movie that will most appeal to folk who want to do exactly that and who will happily watch and shout, "Right on!  But we're a lot smarter that these bozos, so we'll get away with it."

From Green Apple Entertainment, American Bully makes its straight-to-DVD debut this Tuesday, July 26 -- for sale or rental.

56 comments:

Anonymous said...

Won't watch this movie again. Extremely gut reaching at the end. It shouldn't of even been released. It's gonna give sick people ideas

James van Maanen, said...

I sure do agree with you, Anonymous. And I'm afraid you're right about giving sick people ideas. But then, those people have those ideas already, I'm afraid...

Anonymous said...

Awesome movie, reminds me of american history x

James van Maanen said...

Thanks, Anonymous. The two films do have things in common, but Amer. Hist. X is by far the better movie. Still, I am glad to know that somebody out there liked American Bully.

Anonymous said...

It seemed so real... Its sad that things like this has happened in the past. the plot was extremely meaningful...good Job!

James van Maanen said...

And thanks again, Anon --
But if this movie seemed real to you, I hope you will check out some other movies with a similar theme that are better handled. Towelhead, for instance, is one good example. Here's the link to it on the IMDB:
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0787523/

Manda Brooks said...

Just watched this last night, and was trying to see if it was a based on a true story. I agree, the dialog kinda sucked! The acting was pretty bad too. I found it interesting, but the end made me a little nauseous.

James van Maanen said...

Thanks for commenting, Manda. I think women in general may have even more problems with this film than men do -- given its rather extreme violence, without much of anything (except a bad script and REALLY stupid characters) to justify that violence

Anonymous said...

Just watch last night. Is good though, I followed the whole movies. However, at the end of the movie is not good end. I want to know what the guys think and what the a big motivation made they did that. I am look very foriegn in this country, I always come across the similar situation, but not worse like in the movie.

James van Maanen said...

Thanks for commenting, Anonymous. I agree with you about the end. I, too, would have liked to know what made them do what they did (other than simple, retarded racism and alcohol). I am sorry to hear that you are the target of acts against foreigners, but glad to hear they are nowhere near this nasty. Good luck -- and stay safe.

John Kelley said...

Disturbing movie, the entire production of this film was horrible, this is without consequence though, its the message that's meant to be delivered. The idea that a person would want to cause harm to an innocent person for something somebody else did, for whatever reason they feel they have is just unnecessary. What is scary to me is the one irrational person who doesn't feel the same

James van Maanen said...

Thanks for your comment, John. I am wondering why all these comments are suddenly coming in on a movie I posted about a full year ago? Oh, well. At least people are watching movies and finding them worth commenting on.

When you say that "the entire production of this film was horrible," could you be a little more specific, please? WHY was it horrible? And actually, I suspect that this was not "without consequence," as you suggest. The movie itself is not very good, and part of the reason may well lie with that production trouble. The "message" may well be worthwhile, but if it is delivered badly, then it doesn't "take," if you know what I mean.

I also agree that "the idea that a person would want to cause harm to an innocent person for something somebody else did, for whatever reason... is just unnecessary." I do believe that is the point of the movie, but -- whew! -- I wish the film had not arrived in such piss-poor condition.

I hope that Mr Rodriguez's next film does a better job, and I also hope I am still alive to see it.

serenityloves said...

A part of ignorance in the world that is alive and well.This movie depicts the true heart of hate and total ignorance in the U.S.A
An eye for an eye a certain race feel they're entitled to take matters in their own hands.Yes it is wrong torturing & murdering select ethniities feeling your acting out some form of justice is wrong. Violence on innocent beings done in anyone's sick mind to exact revenge is an Evil far greater than we could have ever imagined,God help these cowards called human beings! Corrupt country & countrymen! Full of lies a legacy of lies! May God save our souls from eternal damnation.

Anonymous said...

So, is it or isnt based on a real story?

James van Maanen said...

Who really knows, Anon? (Except maybe the filmmakers.) Like so many movies made today, this one could easily be based on reality. (We know that many immigrants, first and second generation, are injured or killed simply because they are immigrants.) But once you start changing events and characters in your "real" story, you're simply back in the world of fiction again.

The real question, whether or not it's based on a real story: How well-made and how truthful is the film? I don't think it's very good at all. If you do, fine. But your reason shouldn't be simply that, because it's based on a real story, this somehow makes it good.

James van Maanen said...

And my gosh, SerenityLoves (see a couple of comments above): Your comment certainly sounds full of hatred, considering it is coming from someone with a blog name like yours. Yes, the guys in this movie are pretty damn nasty. If only they were also a little bit more believable.

And since I myself don't believe in god, or eternal damnation, I'll just say that I was grateful to have gotten rid of all of these creeps by the end of the movie. Except for that poor Indian guy whom the creeps assumed was an Arab. Gheesh!

Anonymous said...

FYI-I think it's suddenly being watched bc it's new in Redbox.
I was horrified by the violence and the ending was far worse than I could have imagined.

James van Maanen said...

Thanks, Anon (or maybe this one is from John again?). It probably does have to do with Redbox. It's nice how, these days, there are just so many new ways to see movies! Let's hope this'll help keep the form alive.

Anonymous said...

This is a very interesting movie.. saw it in Redbox today and decided to check it out. I actually enjoyed it.. parts were a little sloppy--too much fading in and out. But the story line was awesome and with tweeking it could easily be a big theater production. I just wish they would show the "supporter" with the suv leaving his friend because he knew it was wrong.. and wrong should never be supported. would have had sent a stronger message and could serve as an inspirational tool.

James van Maanen said...

Thanks for posting, Anon. You hit the nail on the head regarding "wrong should never be supported." Unfortunately, the movie supports wrong way too much, even if the filmmaker thinks, I'm sure, that he isn't doing this. His film would need some major "tweaking" to turn into something worthwhile.

Anonymous said...

james is stupid and so is this movie

Anonymous said...

I think,it wouldn't matter where people come from,even in America some hurt because of the color of their skin.

James van Maanen said...

Wow -- thanks for this super-enlightening comment, the Anon who is shown two comments above. Tell you one thing for sure: The film is not worth all these comments, nor this much of anyone's precious time.

To the Anon, just above: You're right -- people do suffer simply because they have a different skin color. But the white guys here claim they are doing it because he's a Muslim terrorist; they're too stupid to realize there is any difference between India (non-Muslim) and Pakistan, Afghanistan -- or for that matter the entire middle east. This is one of the better, and sadder, points made by the movie.

Anonymous said...

They do it to our innocent Americans everyday

James van Maanen said...

Yup -- another idiot asshole just did it again, in Wisconsin, to a half-dozen Sikhs because, well, wearing beards and turbans must mean you're a Muslim and that you, personally, took down the World Trade Center.

This craziness just grows worse and worse. How about a little more "gun control"? Oh, no -- why bring THAT up? That will just take away Americans' freedom.... to kill.

Anonymous said...

Yes I'm watching it as we speak, pretty messed up. I admit I'm racial not a racist I get a lot of grief for that but I have my reasons. you don't have to like immigrants but kids and people killing them wow, I couldn't fathom that. it plots out some good points but unacceptable. Good flick though hope to see more from director. They all have a right to be here also legally, and its so sad this is really going on. in the world. Have you seen machine gun preacher? Now that's wow!

James van Maanen said...

Well, Anon, I wish you could elaborate a bit on what you mean by "I admit I'm racial not a racist I get a lot of grief for that but I have my reasons." Yes? And...? This sort of thing should be explained better, don't you think? Anyway, I had not wanted to bother with Machine Gun Preacher, even though I do respect Gerard Butler and his work. But maybe, now, after your comment, I will give it a whirl. And thanks, in any case, for commenting.

Jesse Speck said...

Well I watched the movie tonight and overall the message is powerful and the movie maybe a little nauseating, but they are all trying to reach that new extreme these days so i am not surprised but it seems that the violent end is the only exciting part of the movie. the plot could of used some serious development especially of character. you never really get to know any of them like why the leader brandon develops such a hatred of other races and what would drive him to do it because for him to take such serious action would have to stem from something much larger than just his brother going into the military. overall, COULD have been a decent movie with ALOT more development, but did you decide to see Machine Gun Preacher then?? and what did you think??

James van Maanen said...

Hey, Jesse--
You pretty much ended up feeling as I do about this movie. But no, I have not seen Machine Gun Preacher yet. Have too many movies I have promised to watch and cover in the next couple of weeks. But I will stick MGP in my Netflix queue and let you know (via this location, I guess), once I have seen it. Or you can email me your email address at jamesvanmaanen@gmail.com and I'll let you know that way....

Anonymous said...

I don't understand why you keep saying it's not realistic. Yes the writing is terrible, but it seems pretty damn realistic to me. You brought up the shooting in Wisconsin, and you agreed plenty of people in the US are hurt simply because of how they look or how people think they look. Obviously, people like that exist. It's disgusting, and every time something happens people try and excuse, ignore or explain away the racism. That guy in Wisconsin was one of THOSE crazy white supremacists, as if the entire country isn't founded on and continually perpetuating racist ideas. If you can't figure out how the lead ended up in the place he did and how he got his friends involved, then you are a lucky, privileged individual that doesn't really have to live with the harsh realities of this country. I know everyone's comments probably have more to do with how the movie portrayed that development, but you don't really need the movie to do it for you. This is ridiculous. I can't believe I'm still commenting. Yeah, ok.

James van Maanen said...

You STILL don't understand why I keep saying it's not realistic? OK: Just because things like this happen all the time makes the "idea" of the film's central event real enough. But for the movie itself to be realistic, you need decent dialog, acting, pacing, and all the rest of what goes into making a movie seem real. And this movie does not possess any of that. Providing us with a "hate crime" ripped from over-and-over-again headlines is not enough to make the movie "real." Now, do you understand? And how about dropping the anonymous and fessing up with a real name -- at least a first name. Unless, of course, you are somehow connected to this movie, in which case that might be embarrassing....

Anonymous said...

This movie totally sucked, to put it bluntly.. I rented it from Redbox because I thought it was the documentary "Bully". I'm a little annoyed at Redbox because I'll bet they featured it on purpose hoping people would get confused as I did. The writing was moronic, as were the characters. And who was paying the electric bill of the "deserted" house?

James van Maanen said...

Hmmmm, Anon, you might be right. I hadn't thought of that, and I am very sorry you mixed this movie up with the "real" Bully. Maybe that IS why Redbox is featuring it. And your "electric bill" comment is pointed and very funny. Thanks for commenting.

adam said...

Wow.....I just finished this movie. I live in Aurora Colorado. I'm from St. Louis Missouri. I am black and also Muslim.....I fear no man, but white males scare the hell out of me. I am scared for all non-white men, women and children. The white male is a ticking bomb. So much hate has put put into this world aganist the Middle East,blacks, Muslims, Women, Hispanics etc. Until we learn to love and not hate stories like this will contunie to happen......it seems so real to me. I'm going to have nightmares. "Adam"

James van Maanen said...

Hey, Adam--
How can it be that you "fear no man" but "white males scare the hell" out of you? A white male would qualify as a man, right? Oh, well. I think I get your point. I myself am a white male, and the kind of guys you are talking about scare the hell out of ME, too. This country has always been racist (check out everything from slavery to the Viet Nam war). One would like to imagine that things are getting better. But I don't know....

Oh -- and you left out gays from that group of people we love to hate. And I am sorry you may have nightmares, but I wish you could at least have them from a movie that was better made and more believable that American Bully...

Anonymous said...

This movie was terrible. Your critique was right on. I could have done without the idiotic anti-gun comments. Also the moronic "this country is racist comment." Name one country without racists.

James van Maanen said...

Thanks, Anon, for taking the time to comment. And yes, let's all try to name one single country without racists -- of some sort, against some other group.

Anonymous said...

I also just watched this movie, but I'm no movie critic so I don't have a whole lot to say on the script or production value. It definitely wasn't even close to being a good movie. Definitely far from the best I've ever seen... But I can say that I've definitely seen worse. I can't figure out why I continue to watch movies like this one because, being a white woman, I am seriously repulsed and disturbed by racist people. I've said it a million times before and I'll continue to say it, these people are an embarrassment to my race. Truth is, 95% of racist people, whether they are white, black, arab, or any other race... Couldn't tell you why they hate so much. Well... they COULD tell you and honestly believe it their minds that their reasons are totally justifiable. I can't help but feel sorry for them, mostly because it amazes me some of the stupid shit that comes out of these people's mouths. Honestly, life is too damn short to waste it hating so fucking much!
I do have a serious problem with the fact that some of the people who have commented on this movie have compared it to American History X. Seriously!? This movie is nothing like American History X! Maybe I'm just biased and the reason I really enjoyed that one and think it's an excellent movie is because of the attempt at redemption in American History X. It gave me hope that some of those idiots with their moronic ideas of being a supreme race CAN have their eyes opened to reality. That reality being that no matter how you look at it, you are no better or worse than the next man simply because of the color of your skin or you religious beliefs.
Racism will never be eliminated. You can't fight it. You can't make it go away. Unfortunately, that is also a reality.
My name is Jessica. I don't feel any need to be anonymous. Just didn't know how to put my name on my comment other than this way

James van Maanen said...

Thanks, Jessica, for this very interesting comment -- with which I think many of my readers would agree. At least about the racism part. It IS such a waste. I believe racism is an effort to disguise one's own lack, insecurities and fears. But until the person understands this, s/he will just keep on keeping on (as they say).

As to why you or I or any of us continue to watch movies like this, I think it is because we hope to see one that will open our eyes to truth, will teach us, and maybe give us a little hope. Unfortunately, AMERICAN BULLY ain't that film. But maybe next time (as they also say)....

Oh -- and thanks for not remaining "Anonymous"

Anonymous said...

I don't understand the end of the movie. Did Brandon kill Mike and then himself? Or did they both kill themselves? Think three plot would have been better if maybe someone dear to Brandon was killed in 9/11. That would explain his hatred better. The girls were pointless in the movie. I was surprised Mike didn't leave. Thought Mike and Kyle would have been the ones to leave. Anyway, pease explain ending. Who was crying? Brandon? Or did Mike shoot Brandon, and then himself?.....confused

James van Maanen said...

Sorry, Anon--
It's been over a year since I've seen this movie, and since I disliked it so intensely, I wanted to forget it fast. Seems like I have done that pretty well, as of now right now I am not sure sure of the character's names. But from your description, I would say that maybe your first choice was what happened. I do remember wanting ALL the guys dead at that point -- except for our American-East Indian friend, who unfortunately was already there.

Maybe one of the film's champions, who has seen the movie more recently, can explain it all for you. I would have to procure another copy and watch it again to do this. And that, I can tell you, is NOT going to happen.

You're right about the girls. I think they were there just to make sure we didn't imagine that any of these guys might be.... gay.

sam said...

Watched it...understand what they might have been attempting but i feel the movie speaks to mob mentality more then anything and was shamefully underdeveloped. A sensitive topic should be handled more delicately and respectfully before being released

James van Maanen said...

Good points, Sam -- every last one of 'em! Thanks for commenting.

Dani said...

I saw this movie last night. I myself am a bit racial. By this, I mean that I do not like the way certain people who all happen to be the same race act and do things. I however am not racist. Just because one black person acts one way doesn't mean that they are all like that. My husband is military and we watched this movie together. The part that stuck in my mind most, was that these kids were under the impression that the military is doing these thing. Another thing that bothered me was that this was an innocent kid who wasn't even apart of the same race or religion had his life taken in a brutal and torturous way because a couple of kids didn't do proper research. I definitely do not think that anyone will get any sick ideas from it. American History X didn't have nearly the same impact on me as this movie did. Teens who think the way these fictional characters do need to see this movie. I will never watch this movie again.

James van Maanen said...

Thanks for posting your comment, Dani, and I certainly agree with you on one point: I will never watch this movie again, either. Otherwise, I must take issue with a couple of your statements.

That innocent kid had his life taken from him, not because his murderers hadn't done proper research. Assholes like this don't usually DO research. And what if they had found that he was indeed Pakistani/Muslim, rather than Indian/Hindu? Would that have given them the right to kill him? No way.

It bothered you that these kids were under the impression that the military is doing these kinds of thing. Well, the military IS doing these kinds of things, and enough proof of this has come out over the decade that we've been at war, first in Afghanistan and then in Iraq, that there is no point in trying to deny this. Not that ALL the U.S. military is doing this. As you say, earlier in your comment: "Just because one black person acts one way doesn't mean that they are all like that." Substitute "military man" (or "platoon") for "black" in that sentence, and you'll get my point.

But thank you for commenting. This movie certainly has provoked a response!

will gutierrez said...

This movie reminds me of alpha dog shows how kids can easily be influence and have ignorant. behavior with such bad consequence their is alot of stupid teenagers and adults here in America.

James van Maanen said...

Thanks, Will. You're right on all points. I just wish that the movie did a better job of making all this believable. Clearly though, it managed that for some viewers, I guess.

Anonymous said...

i coming from australia, understand the huge issue of racism. I believe a lot of americans and australians need to watch this movie to understand the sad inevitability of hatred. this is what hatred and stereotypical behaviour can cause. In such movies as "to kill a mockingbird" this movie is highly unpredictable and allows people to see reality as it is. Don't get the wrong idea, not all americans or australians are racist/ but in every single race/culture/country there are people who have been affected or drummed into being overly strong and loyal to their opinion. this movie to me says keep an open mind about everyone's opinions and don't hate or bully or stereotype just because of what happend to some people in the past. Theres the present and the future, and hating or killing dosen't solve or work towards any justice in these circumstances! I hope there is a clear discussion of this movie in the media so people see the real message behind the tragedies that have taken place that are similar to this one/ May the world live in piece!

James van Maanen said...

And thank you, Anonymous, especially for your last line. I don't see that happening. But you never know....

justice for all said...

Sick and coward movie but sadly not far from reality

James van Maanen said...

Thanks for commenting, Justice. I think the situation in the film is not far from reality, but the movie's handling of it unfortunately is.

Anonymous said...

I watched its a good movie. But really really sad! I cried!. & by the guys at the end going to prison just for being there for a little bit shows people shouldnt be doing stuff like this & imagine if the killer was alive hmm wonder what they would have done to him smh!-It aint rite at all!!

sam said...

And one more question..Is this based on a true event??

James van Maanen said...

Hi, most recent Anonymous (who I think may be the "Sam" from the above comment)--

I hope, by "ain't rite at all" you mean that the killing of the immigrant boy was wrong, not the other kids (or what's left of them) going to prison...? Tell me please that you are not suggesting that their going to prison is somehow wrong.

As to whether or not this story is based on a real event, it seems to me that there have been many real events similar to this. But I suspect that the filmmaker simply built his fictional story around what happened throughout America after 9/11, when a lot of people went nuts and just started beating on any immigrants they imagined -- mostly incorrectly -- might be Muslim.

Courtney Duncan said...

I can't locate a copy to actually watch. I'm in this movie...left hand scream dead center of the fountain (detailed blue jeans and a camo jacket) as well as 2nd row in the court room behind matt. Thank you!

James van Maanen said...

Hi, Courtney--
I just checked and found it on Amazon here http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_ss_i_0_14?url=search-alias%3Dmovies-tv&field-keywords=american+bully&sprefix=american+bully%2Cmovies-tv%2C254
and at Netflix here:
http://dvd.netflix.com/Movie/American-Bully/70198491?trkid=33859

So it is available. Good luck....