Bully - movie (spoilers)

This movie is currently running on HBO, and I’ve always wondered something.

For those of you who don’t know, it’s based on a book that chronicles the murder of a teenage bully named Bobby Kent. His best friend Marty Pucchio and Marty’s girlfriend were the main drivers behind the killing, but the gang that actually got together to kill him were a bunch of high school losers and drop outs. Bobby Kent seemed to be a 24-carat, gold plated prick in the movie, (he rapes a couple of the girls in the movie) and he seems to struggle with his sexuality.

There is one scene in the movie that gives me a WTF moment, however. Bobby has just raped Ally (a girl who is also in on the plot to kill him) and he’s cleaning himself up in front of a mirror in his bathroom. He’s standing there naked, and his father walks in and stands behind him, puts his hands on his shoulders, and starts talking to him. He’s clearly looking at his son’s nude body, and Bobby does nothing to try to cover up. It’s a strange sequence, and I’m wondering:

a) if this is depicted in the book the same way, and what the book tells the reader about this relationship between Bobby Kent and his father

b) if anyone else saw the movie I’m talking about, saw this scene and wondered WTF like I did, or if it made some sort of sense to you.

c) if it made sense, what did it mean to you? It’s such a strange scene, and I personally can’t imagine my father touching me in this manner.

I read the book quite a while ago, but read it several times. They don’t mention anything like this in the book. They do go on a lot about how much Bobby’s father
loved him and thought he was special.

No, it didn’t really make sense to me in the storyline. I think they were trying to establish some odd, worshipy, way too close relationship between father and son that’s supposed to explain Bobby’s anger and homo-eroticism, but it failed.

I remembered that this was a Larry Clark film, and Larry Clark loves him some incest and otherwise taboo sexuality.

For the record, I don’t buy the prosecutor’s, the book’s, or the film’s version of what happened. It doesn’t make any sense to me whatsoever.

What DO you believe, based on what you know? I’ve never read the book, and the only other exposure to this case was an A&E special (I think).

In the book, is Bobby Kent portrayed as the complete asshole as he was in the movie? He’s not a very sympathetic character, so when they kill him, he’s not someone the audience is feeling any compassion for.

If Larry Clark likes the weird sex stuff, like incest and rape, then the movie makes more sense from that angle. It was like watching child pornography in many scenes. Bobby’s father is a weird character, and he is clearly the Bully behind the Bully according to Clark.

One thing that always annoyed me about this movie is how the boys got worse sentences than the girls, even though they were all equally involved in his murder…it’s been a long time since I’ve seen the film, so I’m kind of hazy on the details of that. Why was that?

Am I the only one who thought that said “Buffy” instead of “Bully”?


I’m not positive there was a double-standard in sentencing. The two main conspirators got life and death, with death going to the one who did the actual killing. Seems about right to me.

My biggest takeaway from the movie was twofold: I’d never realized how hot (and deliciously trashy) underboob could be, and I had a huge crush on Kelli Garner even with her horrifying snaggle-teeth. (She has since gotten them fixed.)

This is a very common reaction to watching Larry Clark movies, IME.

What, if anything, this says about Clark will be left as an exercise for the student.

Nick Stahl was also totally wrong for that role- has nothing to do with his acting ability, it’s just that he’s too little. The real Bobby Kent (pic) was a huge bodybuilder type (also in spite of his name he was Persian, not that this part matters)- it makes a lot more sense that he was able to bully people to do what he told them.

Somehow – and this is shocking, considering Larry Clark’s track record – Bobby comes off as an even bigger asshole in the books. I don’t remember the exact details, but Clark definitely left out some explicit sexual stuff.

Actually, she wore falsies. The teeth I mean.

I just saw this movie this week and am now interested in reading the book too.

Three thoughts on the comments above:

  1. Re the sentencing: Only the males did the actual killing. The women were accomplices to varying degrees. The stiffer sentences for the guys reflect that.

  2. Re the casting of someone physically smaller than the real Bobby:
    Small bullies are not uncommon. That in itself can be part of the insecurity that makes them need to prove they can control others.
    Film makers only have about 2 hours or less, usually without narration, to tell a story that a book can cover thoroughly at great length. So they have to resort to shortcuts, stylization, and even some changes in details in order to be true to the bigger picture. IMO, the director’s choice of a physically smaller actor works very well, emphasizing the emotional /mental hold he had over his peers that kept them from leaving.

  3. Re the disturbing scene with the father confronting naked Bobby: Also IMO , in the same way as with the choice of a less bulky actor, I think the director staged this scene this way to emphasize the dad’s denial that his son could do any wrong. Just before, we see a disheveled Ali storm out of the house and shove the father in anger. He then passes a passive couple watching tv on the couch and finds his naked son furiously scrubbing himself clean… yet Mr. Kent is incapable of thinking his son might have done anything wrong. Perfect case of total denial.

This is one of my favorite movies; I’ve seen it dozens of times.

I also read the book, by Jim Schutze. And I’ve read articles and other sources about the case. It’s very difficult to tell what really happened and what didn’t.

Since Bobby Kent is dead, nobody knows his side of the story. They only know what Marty Puccio, Lisa Connelly and others said about him, and it might all be lies. There’s a good chance that Kent was nowhere near as bad of a person as the movie and book make him seem.

If the book is to be believed, the teenagers who killed Kent, and Kent himself, were constantly drunk and on drugs, including speed and LSD. Their whole lives were probably a giant blur during the time they spent together leading up to the murder…it was not an act of rational people whatsoever.

The book is written in a very strange style. It purports to be a wholly factual, journalistic work. However, it is filled with highly descriptive detail, the kind of stuff that the narrator would have had to actually personally witnessed in order to write about. Descriptiveness more suited to fiction writing. Stuff like, “Heather shook her ass suggestively as she slammed the door of the Mustang. Marty lit up another joint, inhaling deeply, and looked out at the ocean sorrowfully, wondering why…etc etc.” All kinds of internal monologues are presented that are completely conjecture on the part of the author. The narrator obviously did not witness every minute of every day that these characters spent idling away, but he writes the book as if he did.

I really don’t like Larry Clark, but I would watch an episode of Buffy written and directed by him just to see the train wreck.

The one big change that always kinda bothered me is that Marty’s girlfriend in real life was not an unbelievably, awesomely hot girl like Rachel Miner. She was rather dumpy and overweight (and Bobby frequently made fun of this).

I realize the differences between books and movies but still, why specifically cast such an exceptionally attractive actress in that role? Since it was the epitome of a non-Hollywood, art house film, and a role with so much explicit nudity and sex in it, using a beautiful actress with a perfect body seems like so much of a cop out…