Serving as the latest bit of evidence that a camera, a cause, and a whole lot of headline-friendly promotion can net unwarranted prestige, the Harvey Weinstein-backed Bully begins its nationwide rollout this weekend, its demand to be liked carrying an ironic whiff of oppression. From the schoolyard to the psych ward, the bully was a cinematic staple well before becoming a hot-button news topic, and we’ve got examples to prove it. The meanies in Lee Hirsch’s new doc may commit acts of school-bus terrorism, but they’d cower to these soul-crushing jerks.
Thomas F. Wilson in Back to the Future (1985). A bully in two time periods, Thomas F. Wilson’s Biff Tannen gets to torment two generations of the McFly family, emasculating George (Crispin Glover) from high school into adulthood, and picking on Marty (Michael J. Fox) when the DeLorean-driving teen treks back to the days of his parents’ adolescence. A cloud of depression hangs over the first two Back to the Future installments, and that cloud has a name that sounds like a punch: Biff.