Movie Review

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Big Bully

reviewed by Dr. Barbara Mack Ph.D.

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Self-Help Parent Meter (Scale based on PG-13 films)
0 = Little or none      5 = Great amount or highly

Sex: (1)
Profanity: (3)
Violence: (3)
Fright: (1)

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Twenty-five years later, David (Rick Moranis) is still living in California. He is an author and a single father with a rebellious adolescent son, Ben (Blake Bashoff). When David gets an offer to teach creative writing at his former school, they move back to Minnesota. Ben enrolls at Hastings Middle School, and David becomes a teacher there. Unlike his father, Ben is a bully. He starts picking on Kirby (Cody McMains), the sensitive son of the meek shop teacher Ross (Tom Arnold). David is shocked to discover that the shop teacher is actually Fang. Seeing David brings back Ross's aggression, and he again becomes a bully. This time, he wants revenge against David for reporting the moon rock theft.

These men who are now teachers regress to their former roles, and their immature behavior escalates into aggression. Ross oils the floor so that David will fall, tampers with David's chair so that it collapses under him, trips him, hits him in the crotch with a see-saw, attacks him with a power tool, shoots nails at him and chases him with an electric torch. When Ross chases David to a waterfall, David hits him with a branch, and Ross falls over the steep waterfall. Ross survives and continues to pursue his old victim. Eventually the teachers' sons teach their fathers to make peace.

In its attempt at humor, "Big Bully" portrays adults as incompetent, aggressive and obnoxious. One of the adult heroes of the film is a teacher who acts like a delinquent teen-ager, while the other is a teacher who acts like an adolescent victim. Other teachers smoke in the teachers lounge under a "no smoking" sign. They, like their students, ignore rules. One of the local fire-fighters is obsessed with fire. He asks the students if they want to watch him light his arm. The school guard is rude to the students, but nice to a pretty young teacher. The chemistry teacher is portrayed as a "ninny." This film does not offer our children any good adult role models. In fact, it does quite the opposite. Children and adolescents need to see teachers and other authorities as good, strong, capable people who can be admired.

In the end, the boys teach their fathers a lesson in living. Although this might seem to compensate for the film's poor taste, it doesn't. The concept that kids are smarter than their elders is a common one in the media. When children and adolescents are repeatedly exposed to those ideas, it is not surprising that they begin to believe them. The result is kids who don't respect their parents or other authority figures. In a subtle way, this film and others like it are negative influences on our children.

Although children may relate to the theme of "Big Bully," and may laugh at this silly piece, I don't recommend it for children, adolescents or adults.

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