Bully (2001 film)
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Larry Clark|
Bully: A True Story of High School Revenge|
by Jim Schutze
|Cinematography||Steve Gainer ASC ASK|
|Edited by||Andrew Hafitz|
|Distributed by||Lions Gate Films|
|Box office||$1.4 million|
Bully is a 2001 American psychological crime drama film directed by Larry Clark, and starring Brad Renfro, Bijou Phillips, Rachel Miner, Michael Pitt, Leo Fitzpatrick, Daniel Franzese, Kelli Garner, and Nick Stahl. Based on the 1993 murder of Bobby Kent, the plot follows several young adults in South Florida who enact a murder plot against a mutual friend who has emotionally, physically and sexually abused them for years. The screenplay was written by David McKenna (under the pseudonym Zachary Long) and Roger Pullis, who adapted the book Bully: A True Story of High School Revenge by Jim Schutze.
The film was released in the United States on June 15, 2001, and met with mixed critical responses, though many critics noted the film's disturbing and straightforward handling of youth crime and murder.
Ali Willis and Lisa Connelly are friends with Bobby Kent and Marty Puccio. They all go out on a double date. While in a parked car, Ali performs oral sex on Bobby, while Lisa and Marty have sex in the back seat. Lisa later learns she is pregnant, but is afraid that the child is Bobby's instead of Marty's, since Bobby raped her after beating Marty unconscious.
Bobby emotionally and physically abuses Marty, and also rapes Ali. Marty reveals to Lisa that the abuse has been going on since they were boys, starting with Marty taking drugs at an early age, which Marty thinks that Bobby has been using to take advantage of him. Marty and Bobby then go to a gay bar, where he is forced to strip down to his underwear, and begins to dance, while Bobby starts to videotape the whole ordeal. Lisa eventually proposes that they murder Bobby.
Ali recruits her new boyfriend, Donny, and her friend, Heather Swallers, while Lisa recruits her cousin, Derek Dzvirko. After doing drugs and having sex, the teens make their first attempt, but back out. Realizing they need help, they hire a supposed "hitman", Derek Kaufman, who is just a tough-talking adolescent.
The teens come up with a new plan. They arrive at a swamp, where Donny stabs Bobby in the back of the neck. Shocked by the violence, Ali, Heather, and Derek Dzvirko run back to Ali's car. Bobby begs for mercy, but Marty slits his throat, and Derek Kaufman bludgeons him with a baseball bat. Lisa witnesses it all, never turning away. They dispose of Bobby's body in the swamp and flee. Marty later realizes that he left the sheath to his diving knife at the canal. They go to retrieve the sheath, and check on the corpse, which is now being eaten by crabs. Lisa, Derek Dzvirko, Ali, and Heather do not believe they did anything wrong, since they did not directly participate in Bobby's actual death. Lisa decides to dispose of the knife, which is the only evidence linking them to the crime.
Unable to maintain the secret, Derek Dzvirko and Lisa reveal to their other friends what they've done, while Ali phones in an anonymous tip to the media, alerting them to Bobby's death. Lisa calls Derek Kaufman and speaks to his younger brother, who says that Derek has already been arrested for the murder. Eventually, all the teenagers turn themselves in, with the exception of Marty, who is arrested a few days later. The group is later seen in court wearing prison jumpsuits, and Lisa visibly pregnant by this time. Marty and Donny argue, inadvertently admitting to Bobby's murder in front of the entire court. It is then revealed that the teenagers were all convicted of Bobby's murder, and list the sentences they receive:
- Heather Swallers is sentenced to 7 years.
- Derek Dzvirko is sentenced to 11 years.
- Ali Willis is sentenced to 40 years.
- Donny Semenec, Derek Kaufman and Lisa Connelly are sentenced to life in prison.
- Marty Puccio is sentenced to death by the electric chair.
Subsequent title cards reveal that some of the characters and events were composited or exaggerated for dramatic effect, and the results of the defendants' appeals at the making of the film:
- Lisa Connelly's sentence was reduced to 22 years.
- Alice Willis was sentenced to 17 years, but would be under community supervision for 40 years upon her release.
- Martin Puccio's sentence was reduced to life in prison.
- In parentheses are the names of the real-life people these characters were based on.
- Brad Renfro as Marty Puccio (Martin Joseph Puccio, Jr.)
- Bijou Phillips as Ali Willis (Alice Jean Willis, aka Alice Jean Chapman, Alice Jean Slay)
- Rachel Miner as Lisa Connelly (Lisa Marie Connelly)
- Nick Stahl as Bobby Kent
- Michael Pitt as Donny Semenec (Donald Roth Semenec, Jr.)
- Leo Fitzpatrick as Derek Kaufman "The Hitman" (Derek Leon Kaufman)
- Kelli Garner as Heather Swallers (Heather June Swallers)
- Daniel Franzese as Derek Dzvirko (Derek George Dzvirko)
- Nathalie Paulding as Claudia
- Jessica Sutta as Blonde
- Edward Amatrudo as Mr. Kent (Fred Kent)
- Deborah Smith Ford as Farah Kent
- Steven Raulerson as Mr. Willis
- Judith Clayton as Mrs. Willis
- Alan Lilly as Martin Joseph Puccio, Sr.
- Irene B. Colletti as Mrs. Puccio (Veronica Puccio)
- Marc Pearson as Marty's brother
The film is based on the July 15, 1993 murder of Bobby Kent at a remote area in Weston, Florida, south of Alligator Alley. Four of the convicted teens, known as the Broward County Seven, were released after serving brief prison terms. Today, only three are still serving prison sentences. The book, Bully: A True Story of High School Revenge by Jim Schutze was released in 1998. The film includes two title cards that reveal how several of the perpetrators appealed their sentences and the results of those actions.
The actual co-perpetrators of the murder were convicted and sentenced as follows:
- Martin Joseph "Marty" Puccio, Jr. First-degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder. Sentenced to death by electrocution on July 27, 1995; commuted to life in prison without the possibility of parole for 25 years on November 20, 1997. Currently incarcerated at the Desoto Annex in Arcadia, Florida.
- Heather June Swallers Second-degree murder and conspiracy to commit first-degree murder. Was sentenced to seven years imprisonment on May 12, 1995; she received a lighter sentence than the others because, unlike Derek Dzvirko, she did not attempt to lie on the witness stand. Released February 14, 1998.
- Derek George Dzvirko Second-degree murder and conspiracy to commit first-degree murder. He was originally sentenced to seven years imprisonment on May 12, 1995 but received four extra years for trying to lie on the witness stand. Released October 1, 1999.
- Alice Jean "Ali" Willis (aka Alice Jean Chapman, Alice Jean Slay) Second-degree murder and conspiracy to commit second-degree murder. Sentenced to 40 years imprisonment on May 19, 1995; reduced on appeal to 17 years for the murder charge and 15 years for the conspiracy charge. Released on Supervised Probation September 16, 2001 (the movie notes she will be under those probationary terms for 40 years). Currently residing in Belpre, Ohio. Probation set to terminate September 15, 2041.
- Donald Daniel "Donny" Semenec, Jr. Second-degree murder. Sentenced to life in prison on May 17, 1995. Two weeks after his conviction in the murder of Bobby Kent, Donny received another 14-month sentence for bringing drugs into jail and cocaine possession stemming from a 1994 case. Currently incarcerated at the Lake Correctional Institution in Clermont, Florida.
- Derek Leon Kaufman First-degree murder and conspiracy to commit first-degree murder. Sentenced to life plus 30 years imprisonment on June 12, 1995. On November 15, 1994, Kaufman received a 2½-year sentence for trafficking in stolen property, stemming from a February 1993 case. Currently incarcerated at the Mayo Correctional Institution in Mayo, Florida.
- Lisa Marie Connelly Second-degree murder and conspiracy to commit aggravated battery with a deadly weapon. Sentenced to life plus five years imprisonment on July 21, 1995; reduced on appeal to 22 years. Released on February 3, 2004. Lisa delivered her and Puccio's daughter in the Broward County Jail during her incarceration.
Bully received mixed reviews from critics and has a "Rotten" rating of 54% on Rotten Tomatoes based on 91 reviews with an average score of 5.7 out of 10. The critical consensus states "With its lingering shots of naked teenage bodies, Bully feels more sordidly exploitative than realistic." The film holds a score of 45 out of 100 on Metacritic, based on 26 critics indicating 'Mixed or average reviews'.
Roger Ebert was one of the film's notable admirers and gave the film four out of four stars and stated in his review "Larry Clark's Bully calls the bluff of movies that pretend to be about murder but are really about entertainment. His film has all the sadness and shabbiness, all the mess and cruelty and thoughtless stupidity of the real thing....If the director doesn't have a strong personal feeling about material like this, he shouldn't be making movies about it...Clark is not some objectified, outside adult observer making an after-school special, but an artist who has made a leap into this teenage mindscape....I believe Bully is a masterpiece on its own terms, a frightening indictment of a society that offers absolutely nothing to some of its children—and an indictment of the children, who lack the imagination and courage to try to escape. Bobby and his killers deserve one another."
- JT Money feat. Solé: "Who Dat"
- Tha Dogg Pound: "We About to Get Fucc'd Up"
- Ghetto Inmates: "Thug Ass Bitch"
- Atomic Babies: "Cetch Da Monkey"
- Tha Dogg Pound: "Coastin"
- Bomber: "Joyride"
- Rinka: "Boots Sex Dread"
- Tricky: "Excess"
- Dr. Dre feat. Eminem: "Forgot About Dre"
- Sen Dog and DJ FM: "Latin Thug"
- Smut Peddlers feat. R.A. The Rugged Man: "Bottom Feeders"
- Cage: "Suicidal Failure"
- Scott Grusin and John Caruso: "Bully's Beauties"
- Quark: "Je T'ai Oublié"
- Shawty: "Who Ya Callin' Country"
- Tha Dogg Pound: "Work Dat Pussy"
- FOG: "By This Axe We Rule" taken from "Through The Eyes of Night..." WWII MUSIC under license from Dark Horizon Records
- Ol' Dirty Bastard: "Last Call"
- Bizzy Bone: "Jesus"
- Cypress Hill: "When the Shit Goes Down"
- Thurston Moore: "Bully Murder Scene"
- Fatboy Slim: "Song for Shelter (Talking 'Bout My Baby)"
- Tricky: "Bury the Evidence"
- Zoe Poledouris: "Unloved: The Decision"
- Zoe Poledouris and Jerome Dillon: "Window: Lisa Wakes"
- Zoe Poledouris and Jerome Dillon: "Window: It's Bobby"
- Zoe Poledouris and Jerome Dillon: "Window: Gun One"
- Zoe Poledouris and Jerome Dillon: "Window: Heather's Story"
- "Bully". Metacritic. Retrieved 1 February 2018.
- "Bully (2001) - Financial Information". The-numbers.com. Retrieved 1 February 2018.
- "Bully (2001)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved November 30, 2014.
- State of Florida vs. Marty Puccio, CASE NO. 86,242 (official court documents). Florida State University Archives
- "Inmate Release Information List". Dc.state.fl.us. 1998-02-14. Archived from the original on 2015-09-23. Retrieved 2010-08-19.
- "Inmate Release Information List". Dc.state.fl.us. Archived from the original on 2015-09-23. Retrieved 2010-08-19.
- "Supervised Population Information List". Dc.state.fl.us. 1975-08-29. Archived from the original on 2015-09-23. Retrieved 2010-08-19.
- "Inmate Population Information List". Dc.state.fl.us. 1975-07-15. Archived from the original on 2015-09-23. Retrieved 2010-08-19.
- "Inmate Population Information List". Dc.state.fl.us. Archived from the original on 2015-09-23. Retrieved 2010-08-19.
- "Inmate Release Information List". Dc.state.fl.us. 1974-07-31. Archived from the original on 2015-09-23. Retrieved 2010-08-19.
- "The Real Lisa Connelly". Web.archive.org. 2001-07-03. Archived from the original on 2001-07-03. Retrieved 2010-08-19.
- "Bully". Metacritic. Retrieved November 30, 2014.
- Ebert, Roger (July 20, 2001). "Bully".