"Bully" forces you to confront not the cruelty of specific children - who have their own problems, and their good sides as well - but rather the extent to which that cruelty is embedded in our schools and therefore in our society as a whole.
"Bully" doesn't need research or great filmmaking or narrative focus, per se. It needs only the shaming power of its relentlessness and a young audience open to sharing in that shame.
Bully" is smart and compassionate about the pain of its wounded subjects and the frustration felt by their parents, seemingly abandoned by the system. What the powerful film lacks is insight into bullying.
It would have been nice if the film had reflected its title a bit more and looked at the bullies themselves - what drives one kid to torture another? Is it a reaction to home life, is it fear, is it innate awfulness?
Heartbreaking as these stories are, "Bully" is too narrow in scope to be anything approaching definitive. Most notably absent from the film are the bullies themselves.
Lee Hirsch is certainly one who is making a difference. I endorse him and his brave, powerful movie and urge you to see it for yourself. You might leave Bully with rage, but you will not leave Bully with indifference.
Hirsch's documentary truly shocks by the two sets of outrageous bureaucrats it exposes: one cowers on-screen, and the other hides in the offices of the MPAA, America's movie censor.