Movie Reviews

10 Filmmakers Who Should Direct The Movie Adaptation Of Bully

With Rockstar close to completing Grand Theft Auto 6, fans are already speculating what the next Rockstar game will be. More than almost any other, fans want a sequel to 2006’s Bully, which follows Jimmy, who is sent to the eerie boarding school, Bullworth Academy. Contrary to popular belief, Jimmy isn’t actually a bully, but a protector and diplomat who tries to settle grievances between different cliques, and that’s something that would lend itself well to a coming of age dramedy.

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Because of the themes, comedy, quirky characters, and expansive storylines in the game, a movie adaptation of Bully could go down so many different avenues. Whether it’s a teen comedy, an emotionally exhausting Kids-like drama, or an ensemble-cast-driven movie about corruption at the school, Bully is the perfect property for any auteur to make their own.

Justin Lin might not immediately stand out as a likely candidate to direct an adaptation of Bully. His most recent credits are the overwhelmingly negatively received and bombastic F9 and the paint-by-numbers action movie Star Trek Beyond. However, before that, his breakout movie was The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift, which was all about delinquent teenagers who led second lives outside of school.

Sean Boswell, who is sent to Tokyo after getting kicked out of his third American school, leads a life almost identical to Jimmy in the video game. And Lin’s directorial debut, Better Luck Tomorrow, has similar themes of rebellious teenagers engaging in criminal activity too. The director’s early work showcases how he’d understand the source material better than anybody and how perfect of a director he could be for Bully.

Mark Waters isn’t an indie filmmaker, a visionary auteur, or even a well-known blockbuster director. Instead, he’s a director-for-hire whose specialty is romantic comedies. His filmography is filled with inoffensive movies like Freaky Friday and He’s All That, but there are some others that were a huge part of the movie zeitgeist when they were released.

Waters’ most notable work is the 2004 hit Mean Girls, which was envelope-pushing at the time and has had such a lasting impact on pop culture. The movie shares the same themes as Bully, such as cliques, school bullying, the way teenagers deal with it, and the long-lasting effects bullying has on students. Waters could revisit the biggest success of his career with another just as exciting school-based comedy.

Wes Anderson’s style is certainly original, and Bully would have to mold to the director’s unique filmmaking techniques. Anderson is best known for incorporating stop-motion into live-action movies, building miniatures that intentionally look like miniatures, and at the end of the most recent The French Dispatch, there was a whole cartoon action sequence.

The director loves to remind audiences that they’re watching a film. However, he is one of the best at tapping into teenage angst and loves writing stories about kids with pottymouths. On top of that, he has even already written and directed a movie about a preppy boarding school, Rushmore, and it’s one of Anderson’s best movies. His Bully could be like a spiritual successor to the beloved Rushmore.

David Fincher is on the complete other side of the spectrum from Wes Anderson when it comes to visionary auteurs. But though their styles couldn’t be any more different, they’d both deliver a version of Bully that fans would love. Where Anderson would make a charming coming-of-age comedy based on the video game, Fincher would focus on the vulgar teachers, and he’d turn the rivalries between each gang into his very own version of the melodramatic The Outsiders.

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The thriller auteur has already shot campuses in the dead of winter for The Social Network, and the vibe is extremely similar to Bully. Fincher would ace the spooky aesthetic that the video game is known for, and he’d no doubt get longtime collaborators Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross to make the video game’s eerie score even eerier.

Not only would Catherine Hardwicke make a great Uncharted 2, but given her filmography full of movies about teen angst, she could deliver the most compelling Bully of them all. The filmmaker directed teen dramas like Lords of Dogtown and Thirteen, and while it isn’t everyone’s favorite movie, she also directed Twilight, which accurately represented what it’s like being an awkward and confused teenager.

The director could quite easily adapt the video game’s comedy and all the entertaining things going on around every street corner. But Hardwicke’s Bully would be more introspective, and it’d no doubt tackle the deeper themes and struggles that come with being a 15-year-old.

Knives Out 2 is one of the most anticipated movies of 2022 because of how great the original movie is. The first Knives Out is loved for its ensemble cast and the way it perfectly lays out to audiences the Thrombey residence, which is almost like a character in itself. Bullworth Academy works in the same way in the game, as there’s so much character to the enormous school and it feels so rich. That’s why Johnson would make a great Bully director, along with the fact that he’d know how to balance the screentime of the tens of unique characters.

And just like how Fincher has music composers Reznor and Ross in his back pocket, Johnson and Nathan Johnson come as a package too. The director and composer might be cousins, but it’s the most forgivable nepotism in Hollywood, as the musician makes perfectly eerie music for Rian’s neo-noir and murder mystery movies.

Paul Thomas Anderson is another director who is great with ensemble casts, and as he often works with the same actors, an Anderson-directed Bully could make for a dream cast. John C. Reilly was born to play the sleazy gym teacher, Maya Rudolph would be great as the art teacher, and who could play the evil principle better than Daniel Day-Lewis?

But more than anything, Anderson should direct an adaptation of the game simply because it’d be fascinating to see how he’d shoot a movie set in the present day. The director’s past five movies have all had period settings, and the last modern-day movie he made was the minimal Punch-Drunk Love.

Though Jonah Hill is known for being one of the most famous comedy actors working today, he’s also a very capable movie director. Hill might have only one full-length feature credited to his name, but Mid90s is such an incredible directorial debut.

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The 2018 movie is a coming-of-age drama that follows a 13-year-old who suffers abuse from his brother and hangs around with an anti-social group of skateboarders. While Bully is a lot more lighthearted, there are loads of parallels between the game and the movie. And for the next rung up the ladder in Hollywood, Hill should be given the keys to the video game property for his sophomore effort.

According to Variety, this directing duo was fired from Solo: A Star Wars Story for trying to turn it more into a comedy. The star of the movie, Alden Ehrenreich, even said that the directors were turning the beloved character into Ace Ventura. And that’s exactly why they deserve the reigns to Bully.

Just like Rockstar, the developer of the game, Lord and Miller have never been afraid to get weird and test the waters with their audiences, whether that’s with the family-friendly The LEGO Movie or the self-aware 21 Jump Street. The version of the cult video game could be the most inventive and funniest of them all.

Though Greta Gerwig generally directs movies with female leads, all of her films are about lost-in-the-world teenagers who need a little guidance, just like Jimmy. Many of her movies are dark comedies too, and the humor almost perfectly fits Bully’s profile. Lady Bird is about a high schooler and her strained relationship with her mother, which is also the very catalyst that sets the events of Bully in motion.

The video game and Gerwig’s movies share a lot of the same DNA. And while it’d seem like she wouldn’t go near a major IP, as she thrives in the low-budget indie world, she’s actually directing the upcoming Barbie movie. So Bully isn’t too far outside the realm of possibility.

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