Film Review: How to Beat a Bully is a silly and fun romp with a message

How to Beat a Bully


I received this screener on behalf of Dream Factory Entertainment.

Almost all of the screeners I have received so far have been R-rated films with tons of violence, cursing and even nudity (nothing wrong with all three of those things) but it’s nice to watch a cute little family film every once in a while and that’s what we have here. This film basically revolves around one young kid’s lie to stop the other kids from bullying him: he tells them that his family is involved in the mafia. This little lie quickly evolves to a bigger problem when the parents start believing it and even… yes… real mobsters.

The film is well-written by Marilyn Anderson and Richard Rossner, who clearly have a lot of fun with the central lie at the core of the film. There are a few scenes where the young kid’s parents’ innocent statements are misinterpreted by the fellow neighbourhood kids and parents as some kind of mafioso threat. The best scene is one in which our hero’s father is sitting at a table ordering an exterminator and a young paperboy thinks he is ordering a hit just from his choice of vague wording. Scenes like this are the highlight of the film but overall there are a lot of fun elements and the acting is suitably goofy enough to support the plot. There’s also a good message about dealing with bullies but it doesn’t override the plot or become too preachy or anything.

Direction, editing and soundtrack is something I also wanted to point out. While it is a low-budget movie, the filmmakers go out of their way to disguise that as much as possible. The opening sequence really sets the tone for the whole film and even the design of the opening credits seemed to have more effort put into them than most low-budget indies. As far as the direction goes, the actors make some funny choices that are appropriate to the film particularly Eric Lauritzen, whose general haplessness and naiive personality make him a treat to watch. You could almost describe some of the film as having a sort of ‘animated’ feel to it and parts of it even felt a little Home Alone-esque. The editing adds to the fun as it is cut together like a movie such as this should be with fun transitions and good music cues. The soundtrack was pretty enjoyable too, especially the opening song used over the credits. I’m not sure who provided the music but it was quite good.

I feel like the kids will enjoy it a little bit more than the adults but there is still enough humour to keep parents interested as well. The finale, in particular, is a lot of silly fun and the two villains provide a steady stream of laughs.

You can take this one home from Wal-Mart starting April 5th so be sure to pick it up and give it a watch. It is also available on Amazon Prime!

*** ½

 

Rating System:

* (Brutal; the worst rating)

** (Some elements keep it from being awful but still not very good)

*** (Completely watchable; a rental as old-timers might say)

**** (Great film with a few things here and there keeping it from being perfect)

***** (Flawless; a true achievement)

  • Marilyn Anderson

    The music score was by Emmy Award-Winning Composer, Misha Segal, and the opening song and two others were by Reverse Order. The title song over the end credits was by Chase Rossner.