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Bruiser (2021) – Review/Summary (with Spoilers)


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When your father is the epitome of masculinity, what does it say about you if you aren’t a spitting image of that?


Director(s)Miles Warren
Screenplay ByMiles Warren, Ben Medina
Date Released (Sundance Film Festival)1/28/2021
Genre(s)Drama, Young Adult
Duration10 Minutes
RatingNot Rated
Noted Cast
DariusNoble B. Whitted
MalcolmJ.D. Williams

This content contains pertinent spoilers. Also, images and text may contain affiliate links, which, if a purchase is made, we’ll earn money or products from the company.

Film Summary

Compared to his dad, Malcolm, Darius isn’t the most masculine of guys. Granted, he is but a teenager, barely into or on the cusp of puberty, but with helping his dad work out, even see him get into a fight, and hear the praise he receives for winning, it’s hard to not envy him. Especially since Darius can’t even hold his own when playfighting with some friends.

Things To Note | Question(s) Left Unanswered

  • Reason(s) for Film Rating: Malcolm whooping people’s ass.
  • Jump Scares/ Laughs/ Tear-Jerking Moments: The ending will have you prepping to cry, considering what Darius nearly does.

Cast & Characters

Please Note: This is not an exhaustive list of every cast member.

Darius

Darius (Noble B. Whitted) in his school uniform
Noble B. Whitted appears in Bruiser by Miles Warren, an official selection of the Shorts Program at the 2021 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute.

Darius is a young boy who is a bit shy but does have friends. However, he isn’t one of his group’s strongest and is a crier, so it does make him feel less than at times. Especially when compared to the physique and presence of his dad.

Malcolm

Malcolm is Darius’ dad, who is rumored to have lethal fists. But, outside of fighting someone who willingly excluded his son, Malcolm is stern but often sweet. Even a jokester.

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Review

Highlights

The Struggle To Achieve A Traditional Form Of Masculinity & The Praise It Brings

When it comes to Darius, you can recognize that he loves and adores his father, especially considering his father plays an active role in his life. So with that, he is learning what it means to be a man, and while certain things like looking at people while they are talking can be an easy adjustment, there is a difficulty when it comes to the physical strength often involved with masculinity. For even without working out, some boys are stronger than others, and no one wants to be the weakest one. No boy, no child, wants to be teased and feel powerless.

After all, being powerless isn’t manly. Hence Darius feeling torn about his father defending him, even whooping another’s dad’s ass on his behalf. Not just because of the potential consequences for Malcolm, but having to deal with, when his friends share a video of the incident, not living up to his father’s example. Thus, the praise and admiration from his peers given to his dad can’t transfer over. Not only that, when Darius asks of them to stop watching, he gets tested and in not living up to what his father can do, and Darius being a crier, it makes him lose respect.

Thus you see the beginning of what could easily cause toxic masculinity for that drive to be strong like his dad isn’t rooted in protection, but ego. Though with only ten minutes, and considering the ending, maybe it isn’t best to assume the worst when it comes to Darius.

Appreciating The Father/ Son Relationship

Malcolm (J.D. Williams) at a bowling alley with his son
J.D. Williams appears in Bruiser by Miles Warren, an official selection of the Shorts Program at the 2021 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute.

Take into consideration, while Darius may feel weak, it is never due to his father actively trying to make him feel so. When it comes to Malcolm, while he may tease Darius about a girl he thinks his son likes, there isn’t a conversation about Darius manning up, or growing up too fast, too soon, to fit into his image. Heck, I don’t think Malcolm even gets on Darius for being a crier. This is really a beautiful sight to see and pushes you to appreciate their relationship all the more since it implies, despite what Malcolm had to do and learn to survive, he isn’t passing down the negative aspects of that.

Overall

Rating: Positive (Worth Seeing)

It would be interesting to see Bruiser get expanded to understand Malcolm’s past more beyond the rumors Darius’ friends spread about. That is alongside seeing Darius define masculinity for himself, with or without his father’s guidance. Because the potential coming of age journey in either Darius embracing feminine qualities and realizing masculinity is beyond strength could be excellent. Specifically due to him being a Black boy and there still being a notable amount of pressure to fit into masculine ideals, be it good at sports, tall, strong, and things of that nature.

Movie Directory

Summary

The Struggle To Achieve A Traditional Form Of Masculinity & The Praise It Brings - 83%
Appreciating The Father/ Son Relationship - 84%

84%

It would be interesting to see Bruiser get expanded to understand Malcolm's past more beyond the rumors Darius' friends spread about. That is alongside seeing Darius define masculinity for himself, with or without his father's guidance.


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Amari Allah

I started Wherever I Look back in 2011 and have aimed to be that friend who loves watching various forms of media and talking about it. So, from bias, strong opinions, and a perspective you may not have thought about, you'll find that in our reviews.

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