“Bully” Released Today Without a Rating. Movie Theaters Try To Figure Out How To Get Kids To See It

Today, The Weinstein Company is releasing the documentary Bully without a rating, following the recent controversy surrounding the R-rating it was given by the MPAA for including six F-bombs.

The documentary, which follows five American families affected by bullying, has gathered a lot of attention as it’s the first to deal head on with the epidemic of childhood bulling and its potentially fatal consequences. No group of kids is more at risk than LGBT youth, but an R rating would mean faculty couldn’t screen the movie in schools and young people couldn’t see it in theaters without their parents.

The film contains real footage of real kids being bullied at or on the way to school. It’s during these scenes that the F-bombs are dropped, the first two within the first 10 minutes of the film. Addressing the MPAA’s sugestion to re-edit Bully, director Lee Hirsch told the Hollywood Reporter, “The small amount of language in the film that’s responsible for the R rating is there because it’s real.”

Ironically, it is kids who are uttering the curse words in Bully. Does anyone really think we’re protecting the fragile ears of innocent children here? That kind of mentality is why the bullying epidemic has gone unchecked for so long.

Releasing a film without a rating is a big risk for already embattled movie houses: Most big theater chains having a policy never to show such films, leaving it to art houses to screen it.  However Regal Cinemas has stated it will release the film with an R rating, while AMC has announced it will show it at many locations to anyone with a permission slip or guardian. Which is basically the same as an R rating.

Getting Bully into as many theaters as possible is paramount. Celebrities like Justin Bieber, Lady Gaga, Ellen DeGeneres and Meryl Streep have stepped up in support of the film and an online petition collected over a half-million signatures urging the MPAA to reconsider. Speaking at a special viewing in New York organized by GLAAD this week, Hirsch said “I hope the movie touches and moves people…[in] small-town America. That’s where people are begging for it.”

What do you think? Should young teens be allowed to see a film with such disturbing issues (and, apparently, language) without adult supervision? Sound off below.

Bully opens March 30 in New York and Los Angeles, and nationwide April 13.

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  • Bailey

    some people are more concerned with the ‘f’ word than teens committing suicide. Nice ‘christian’ priorities they have.

  • Cam

    The MPAA will give a P.G. rating to a film where people are murdered and unimaginable violence if it happened in the real world, occurs.

    However, they will give an R or an NC 17 rating to a movie where there is a 5 second sex scene, some swear words, or the flash of nudity.

    Lets look at their thought process.

    Horrific violence and murder which hopefully nobody will ever encounter in real life? Ok for kids to see.

    A sexual situation which close to 100% of kids will have one day in their lives? NO!! THEY MUST BE PROTECTED FROM SEEING SOMETHING THEY WILL ALL PARTICIPATE IN ONE DAY!


    The members of the MPAA need serious therapy.

  • Jesrad

    Why don’t the producers bleep out the offending words just like they do on network TV and then release the film with PG or PG-13? The film’s message is too important to not be seen. Reinstate the original sound for the DVD release.

  • JD

    Unless they are forced to watch it in a classroom, I highly doubt any bullies are going to go see this movie. Nor will their parents take them, as the bullies learn their hate from the parents. The only people that will go to this are the bully victims and older adults who lived thru it.

  • Marcel

    Wouldn’t it make sense to release two versions, one bleeping the four ” fuck” utterings and one as it is? I don’t think it’ll ruin the movie for kids who can’t see the R version, and there would be more exposure.

  • Adrian

    This movie might do better once it is released on DVD, iTunes, Netflix, etc. That way parents and kids can have family night and watch it together.
    It makes more economic sense for the family AND convenience than going to a movie theater to see THIS particular movie.

  • Codswallop

    The biggest movie in the US right now is The Hunger Games, a film in which the whole POINT is children killing children. Once the “games” start children DO die, murdered by other children.

    The Hunger Games was given a PG-13 rating by the MPAA.

    Bully is a documentary about what is actually happening in US schools, designed to PREVENT more children from dying as a result of emotional, verbal, and physical abuse from other students. Because the kids in the movie are ACTUAL school-age students instead of 20-something actors with a script, they say words like “fuck” a few times.

    Bully was given an R-rating by the MPAA.

    I’m not saying that The Hunger Games should have been rated R, but that Bully should ALSO have been rated PG-13. A documentary like Bully should be judged by different standard than teen sex-comedies and action films whose entire purpose is to entertain, not educate.

  • Dalic

    I think its important for the movie to be shown with the original sound curse words and all, with a lower rating. Just because you ‘keep kids from seeing inappropriate movies’ doesn’t change them from being subjected to it, which the cursing will show. Parents need to see that they are not protecting their children by sweeping something like this under the rug with a high rating. It still happens even if you think your kid is watching Sesame Street everyday.

  • steve

    Wait! didn’t the “Hunger Games” a movie about kids hunting each other, get a PG-13 rating?!!

  • HeroQueero

    People, please. Stop trying to rationalize the rating choices from a still homophobic industry, the MPAA. Instead, why not do your part to promote this much needed documentary? Those who are obsessed with control and discrimination will always restrict issues dealing with inequality, even if it means discouraging audiences from seeing something by making the rating choice an issue. Right now there is some underage youth browsing an X-rated website somewhere so let’s not pretend that a rating will prevent kids from seeing a film. It’s the digital age, darlings, and people of all ages have access to all kinds of information and entertainment. Let’s use our collective energy to promote this film and stop bullying! Helping the gay youth in need is a much better use of our time!

  • DouggSeven

    Just bleep the damn F words – everyone knows exactly what is said under a bleep.

  • Wordsmith

    Obviously, no. But it is interesting to me that the MPAA has taken the same approach to a problem that has mirrored how so many adults have been treating bullying: tsk-tsk it away with a dismissive ‘hmph.’

    The same people who don’t want this movie to be seen by the very audience that needs to see it, are the same people who’ve buried their heads in the sand over bullying.

    One last point, gay kids are far from the only ones being bullied.

  • Just being real

    As a gay male friend of mine frequently says: Bullying and teen bullying has become the new AIDS.

  • Adrian

    @Just being real: don’t you mean Bullying is the new modern Holocaust? where instead of pushing someone in an oven you strip them of their confidence and stuff them in a locker? you put the victims in their own mental consentration camps.

  • Schlukitz


    That! Cam.

  • Charlie

    Help me out here: R-rated means you can go with someone who’s over 18, right? But no kids would be seen dead going to the movies with their Mom and Dad, particularly if the movie is an ‘issues’ piece about their own lives. And you get an R rating for saying FUCK? I thought that stuff was for graphic sex and drug use. I mean, there’s more R-rated material in fifteen minutes of ‘Breaking Bad’ than in all of the movies aimed at kids released last year.

  • Charlie

    What am I thinking?

    How are kids going to get to see this important movie?


    Problem solved.

  • Charlie

    If this movie is so important and will make a difference in kids’ lives, they should release it for free on the internet and try to make their money through a cunning global viral campaign: it would be more profitable and would reach a greater audience and thereby be more effective. Like that KONY 2012 thing.

  • Charlie

    i wish people would stop pretending that being called a geek is what kids are scared of at school. Everybody knows that the number 1 most terrifying word and therefore the one most used to attack slender boys, arty boys, boys who are quiet or bookish or have funny voices or walk oddly or anything that makes them look in any way different from the rest is FAGGOT. And a movie about bullying that doesn’t include THAT F-word is FUCKING useless. You don’t have to be gay to be bullied but ALL bullying is homophobic.

  • mike

    every kid should have to watch this movie in school…….

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