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Posted on Sat, Apr 21, 2012 : 9:30 a.m.

'Bully' draws strong reactions at its Ann Arbor premiere

By Danny Shaw


Pioneer High School's girls lacrosse team forms a queue under the marquee of the State Theatre in downtown Ann Arbor before the premiere of 'Bully' on Friday.

Chris Asadian |

For a group of Ann Arbor teens, the premiere of “Bully” was more than a Friday movie outing—it was an emotional and educational experience.

Emerging from the State Theatre rubbing each others' backs and wiping away tears, those who attended the first local screening of the documentary on bullying found that it tugged at the heartstrings.

“For half the movie, my heart just dropped, ” said Marisa Huls, Ann Arbor Pioneer High School junior. “It was so much more powerful than I thought it was going to be.”

Huls watched the film with 34 fellow students from Pioneer. The group is part of the school’s girls' lacrosse team.

“I wanted all of us to see it together,” said Pioneer lacrosse coach Zach Maghes. “It’s so important to see something like this. They’ve been learning a lot about bullying in school lately so it’s the perfect time to see the movie.”

"Bully" has a special connection to Ann Arbor: Local student Katy Butler waged a high-profile—and ultimately successful—campaign to get the movie's rating changed from R to PG-13 so more teens could see it. It has been in limited release across the country, and Friday saw it open locally at the State Theatre.

While standing in line for tickets, Huls said she was a bit anxious to watch the documentary because she was a victim of bullying growing up.

“I’m probably going to get a little emotional, I think,” Huls said. “I was bullied from elementary school up until pretty much last year. It’s something I want my old bullies to watch. Everyone needs to understand that it really affects people.”

After seeing the documentary, Huls congregated outside the theater doors with her teammates, some of whom hugged each other and fought back tears.

“It actually hit me worse than I thought it was going to,” she said. “I knew it was going to hit some nerves and everything, but not like that.”

Huls’ teammate Samantha Brandt, a sophomore at Pioneer, also left the theater filled with emotion.

“I think schools should have this movie on DVD and show it every year,” Brandt said. “I don’t think it matters what age you are because it starts young.

“I’ve been bullied before . . .” she added, fighting back tears, “and it was horrible.”

Other “Bully” reactions in the video below:



Sun, Apr 22, 2012 : 2:55 p.m.

When I was growing up, I was bullied. Then I had a child who was bullied. I fought for the bully law now in force in the state of Michigan. I used this law against my childs elementary school and middle school to keep mine safe. Now? At the hi school when mentioned there was one after mine? They found out that bully does not go to the school. Whew. But, if yours is? Use the Michigan law and tell the schools, you won't tolerate it. We as parents need to realize it can happen to ours.


Sat, Apr 21, 2012 : 6:22 p.m.

It almost seems wrong to make money on a subject like this.....seems like it would be easy to exploit the message for profit.

Joel A. Levitt

Sat, Apr 21, 2012 : 4:28 p.m.

Marvelous! I think a companion film is needed -- a film about how we parents turn our children into bullies.

Nick Danger

Sat, Apr 21, 2012 : 2:43 p.m.

What a classy coach to take the team to see a socially relevant film. Perhaps all coaches should follow Zachs lead. You are my new favorite coach


Sat, Apr 21, 2012 : 1:56 p.m.

Bullies should be able to see this for free. ....or shake down some nerds waiting in line and take their movie money.

Joel A. Levitt

Sat, Apr 21, 2012 : 4:20 p.m.

Shepard, I've just looked at several of your comments. I don't know what rotten trauma you have experienced, but you don't have to live with it forever. Please, seek help; you can be much happier.


Sat, Apr 21, 2012 : 12:23 p.m.

Will this movie transfer over to the Michigan Theater? Not sure my knees can handle the State anymore.


Sat, Apr 21, 2012 : 11:56 a.m.

It's great that an athletic team went to view the movie together; sports can and should be so much more than who won or lost the competition. Well done women's PHS LAX! The big lingering question is when will all of the boy's teams go and see the movie together???

Basic Bob

Sat, Apr 21, 2012 : 10:56 a.m.

It's refreshing to see teenagers getting worked up for a documentary instead of a Disney film.


Sat, Apr 21, 2012 : 10:52 a.m.

It is understandable those being bullied see this movie, but will the bullies actually see it? I'm afraid they probably went to Cabin in the Woods and ruined it for everybody by shining laser pointers at the screen. Can they show Bully in schools?