Two wings down

Ally, a middle-school drama queen, starts tormenting her friend Selena after catty Holly and Chrissy (teeny-bopper Iagos, both) conspire to charge Selena with a crime against Ally that Selena did not commit. Disorder descends: (Holly: "She [Selena] said that on Saturday she thought your outfit was really ugly." Ally: "That's really weird...she just told me that she thought my outfit was really cute.") In real life, Ally is 13-year-old McKenzie Bonnett of Champaign, Illinois. She and her classmates acted in The Stories of Us, a 25-minute film that depicts the horrors of bullying and is being marketed to American schools. McKenzie found, a tad disconcertingly, that she stepped into her Ally role with relative ease. "I realized that I had done half of these things before," she said, referring to the bullying tactics that her character employs against Selena. Unfortunately, that familiarity is not apparent in McKenzie's performance, which is largely uninspired. Indeed, at times her stunted delivery indicates that she has most likely forgotten her lines and is attempting bully-improv to the best of her ability, which is notably poor. The Stories of Us does tell sad stories, ones of muddled plots, confused themes, and underdeveloped characters badly portrayed. Gadfly says skip it. The Sarah Jessica Parker flick looks more promising.

"Film helps bullies learn their lesson," by Mary Ann Fergus, Chicago Tribune, April 15, 2008

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