Parental advice goes a long way. Still image of the film 'How to Beat a Bully'. Doug Bilitch

Is “How to Beat a Bully” a kids’ film about how to meet confrontation growing up? Well, in a way it is. This movie has all the features a kids epic should have. There’s the smart mouth but likable child lead. The wacky buddy-buddy dad that somewhat understands the plight of growing up and the concerned mum who is scared of both spiders and neighbourhood gossip. And of course if the title wasn’t obvious already, there’s the school bully.

Cory (Grant McLellan) has had his pre-adolescent life uprooted with his parents taking him out of his childhood home in New Jersey and moving the family out west for the sake of better job prospects for the aforementioned dad-pal Joe (Eric Lauritzen). This leaves Corey with new schoolyard terrain to navigate and since he’s the new kid he’s right at the bottom of the food chain.

By the end of his first day, the congenial Cory has experienced the cliché moment of bullying where the much bigger Darryl (Ian Tucker) has stolen his lunch. Reasonable mum Pam (Elise Angell) steps in with advice of meeting the schoolyard tormentor half way by giving him a peace offering of baked goods. At this point it’s both Cory and the audience who are rolling their eyes.

With it’s campy overacting and movies pitfalls like racial stereotyping (look for the pseudo-Mafia types that somehow get brought into the story), this movie feels more like an hour and a half long Lizzie McGuire episode than anything else. Plus with a film that’s full of child actors it’s hard to fairly judge acting talent so it’s probably Grant McLellan’s performance that parents or any unlucky babysitter will latch on to.

By the time things wrap up with its “Home Alone” styled wacky ending and a galore of fart jokes it’s clear this will be a winner amongst anyone under the age of 12. It’s probably summed up best when the character of mean bully Darryl sees the errors in his ways and admits: “You know, it’s better being friends than being a bully.” Gag worthy but true.

2 and ½ out of 5