All American Bully was presented to me as a film with a rare appearance by Adrienne King, the famous final girl from Friday the 13th. She plays the high school principal with some personal issues that prevent her from being totally sympathetic to our main characters, and she does a fine job with the role. However, it is a small role that isn't fully fleshed out, so while it's nice to see her in this movie and supporting an indie like this, she's not really the biggest selling point of the film. The story ends up shining a lot more than I expected it to, and went to far more serious places than I saw it going.
Another person who tries to be helpful but really is not at all when you think about it is that one sympathetic teacher, Mr. Taylor. He is nice and encouraging to Devon about his artwork. But I still have a problem with his character. He keeps telling Devon to stand up and fight back, maybe not physically, but be smart about it and don't let them get to you. Sounds like sage advice. But my problem with this whole type of situation is the chastising of the victim and not so much the bully or bullies. Sure, he yells at the class when they laugh at Devon and punishes them with a pop quiz. Seriously, fuck that. Instead of teaching victims to stand up for themselves, why not teach bullies NOT TO BULLY? There are also some bad vibes between Taylor and the principal, too, and I was a bit disappointed that this wasn't explored further than it could have been.
Speaking of completely reprehensible acts, we do need to talk about something there. To spoil everything that I just alluded to in the previous paragraph, John was sexually abused by his mother. He admits that (it's a secret that he's never shared - not the thing that Becky and Devon try to use to blackmail him), and then is goaded into raping Becky to prove that he is not a "momma's boy." The rape scene is tough and brutal and in-your-face real, especially because of the way it was shot. It's hard to watch, and goes on way longer than some people might be able to handle, but it is that penultimate moment where everything becomes very real and very serious. It makes you realize that none of the stuff that happens in this movie, or any movie like it, should be taken lightly because this is what can (and does) happen.
All American Bully is a movie with a good story, and well-developed characters with their well-developed backstories that actually has something interesting and poignant to say about the topic of bullying.