Sixteen year-old Jimmy Mulligan (Tucker Albrizzi) is a nice kid with a big problem. His high school is ruled by a gang led by a bully named Miles (Jack DiFalco) and the overweight and quiet Jimmy has become the gang’s number one target.
Miles has decided that Jimmy owes him a hundred dollars. Even though Jimmy has never borrowed any money from Miles and is obviously not from a family that would have a hundred dollars to just toss around, Miles insists that Jimmy is in his debt. When Jimmy refuses to pay, Miles beats the poor kid while he’s walking home from school. However, the beating is observed by a retired boxer named Clarence “Action” Jackson (Ron Canada). Action runs off Miles and then he makes Jimmy an offer. He’ll help Jimmy learn how to box as long as Jimmy agrees to only use his skills for self-defense. At first Jimmy and his parents are reluctant but, after he gets beaten up for a second time, it’s time to go to Manny’s Gym!
Manny (Danny Trejo!), who is a legendary trainer, takes Jimmy under his wing and teaches him how to throw a punch and avoid a jab. Soon, Jimmy is losing weight, gaining confidence, and even going out on a date with a supercool goth girl named Adrian (Elanna White). But Miles still wants his money and eventually, Jimmy is going to have to put his training to use.
In many ways, Bully is every bullied kid’s dream. Not only does Jimmy learn how to throw a punch and get a girlfriend but he also gets to hang out with Danny Trejo! Manny is a tough but funny guy with a rough past but a good heart and he is using his skills to try to make the world a better place. The same can be said for Danny Trejo himself, so he’s the perfect choice to play Manny. Ron Canada is also good as Action Jackson, bringing a lot of quiet dignity to the part. Tucker Albrizzi does a good job of going from being insecure to being confident.
It’s just too bad that the film itself isn’t better. Bully has good intentions but the execution is lacking. The movie kept suggesting that there would be a scene where Jimmy had to chose between using his new skills for revenge or just for self-defense but it never happened. There were too many scenes that did not seem to go anywhere and, for all of the build-up, the final fight between Jimmy and Miles was anti-climatic and confusingly filmed. During the final 15 minutes, several new characters show up and suddenly become central to the story. Somehow, the Mafia finds out about the fight and takes an interest in whether or not Jimmy is going to be able to beat up Miles. On the one hand, it’s cool because Vincent Pastore is one of the gangsters but on the other hand, what’s going on? Why are they there?
Danny Trejo’s cool, though. That counts for a lot.