February 17, 2018

The Advocate's Toolbox

Becoming Bulletproof | SLJ DVD Review

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redstarBecoming Bulletproof. 82 min. Dist. by Tugg Educational. edu.tugg.com. 2014. $75. ISBN unvail.Becoming Bulletproof

Gr 9 Up –On the dusty streets of the film set of a Western town, two men face each other with steely gazes, fingers twitching on the trigger. Only one will be left standing. This behind-the-scenes documentary chronicles the making of this Western, Bulletproof Jackson, which features actors with and without disabilities, supported by the technical crew at the Zeno film camp. Actors such as the well-spoken A.J. (who has muscle spasms because of his cerebral palsy), Zach (who has Down syndrome), and others share their obvious delight at performing. There are lines to memorize, marks to hit, and close-ups to nail. A.J.’s fear mirrors that of any actor: “I hope I don’t suck.” One difference is A.J. cannot walk, dress, feed, or bathe himself. His dependence on his mother and others sometimes leads to a lack of privacy. The film never conveys an attitude of pity toward anyone but emphasizes that we all have something to contribute. This film highlights how differences in social adjustment, intelligence, and outward appearance don’t negate strength in other areas and the desire for connection. It also fosters understanding of those with differences and promotes empathy. VERDICT An uplifting, nonpreachy choice for discussions of dignity, empathy, and acceptance for any high school class.–Maggie Knapp, Trinity Valley School, Fort Worth, TX

This review was published in the School Library Journal June 2016 issue.