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March 30, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

Alex Libby

The Weinstein Co.’s Bully is garnering some of the strongest reviews of the year, with several critics stepping out of their roles as appraisers and becoming advocates for it — many of them condemning the Motion Picture Association of America for its decision to slap the film with an R-rating because of language. (The Weinstein Company has decided to release it unrated.) Even the website, founded by the late Andrew Breitbart, who appeared to court the religious right, has reposted a review of the movie that appears on the libertarian website criticizing the MPAA’s rating. “One wonders what genteel universe these anonymous movie-raters inhabit, and how much weight their opinions should carry in this one,” says its critic, Kurt Loder, the former editor of Rolling Stone. “Bully,” he concludes, “a picture whose message rings out like an emergency alarm, may be more than one kind of wakeup call.” A.O. Scott in his review in the New York Times concludes with a denunciation of the MPAA’s ratings action. “Whose sensitivity does the association suppose it is protecting?” he asks. “The answer is nobody’s: That organization, like the panicked educators in the film itself, holds fast to its rigid, myopic policies to preserve its own authority.” Kenneth Turan in the Los Angeles Times writes that the subject matter of the film “would seem to cry out for a high school age and younger audience. And Bully has an emotional impact that must be viewed to be understood.” That “must see” backing for the film is included in virtually every review. Cristy Lemire of the Associated Press begins her review by remarking that it is “essential to see, whether you’re a parent or a kid, whether you’ve been on the giving or receiving end of such increasingly pervasive cruelty.” She calls the R-rating meted out to the movie “ridiculous.” Rex Reed in the New York Observer describes it as “a moving, vital and responsible must-see documentary” and concludes by advocating that the MPAA’s “irresponsible R-rating” be reversed. Joe Morgenstern in the Wall Street Journal is hopeful that it will be. “If reason prevails, the film will be seen, and seen widely. Bully is a teaching tool, and the language in question turns on words routinely heard or used by the very kids who should be seeing it, both for enlightenment and solace,” he writes. The MPAA does receive an endorsement for its ratings decision from one major-market newspaper critic — Lou Lumenick of the New York Post, who accuses the Weinstein company of using the R-rating controversy as a marketing ploy. “If [Harvey] Weinstein wants Bully to be seen by as many people as possible, as he says, there’s no good reason those barely heard F-bombs can’t be bleeped. In my opinion, this won’t affect the film’s ‘artistic integrity’ one whit, and it might actually help some bullied kids.” As for the movie itself: “It’s powerful stuff,” he writes.