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The Dangerous Lives of Altar Boys /

Rated: R

Starring: Emile Hirsch, Jena Malone, Kieran Culkin, Jodie Foster, Vincent D'Onofrio 

Directed by: Peter Care 

Produced by: Jodie Foster, Jay Shapiro, Meg LaFauve, Meg LeFauve 

Written by: Jeff Stockwell, Michael Petroni 

Distributor: ThinkFilm


Movie Image
Movie Image
Movie Image

      In life, we are presented with things that we don’t want to do, but have to. Almost everything that the “Altar Boys” do is in some way regretted. They are ferocious teens trapped in the wrong body. They worship Atheism, do all types of drugs, and permit underage sex; but they are forced to go to a stringent Catholic school led by a stern headmistress (Jodie Foster). They are constantly trying to go against the rules, and be independent people, but every stunt they partake in turns out to be a wrong move. They have many problems with authority, which is partially to blame on the terrible examples that their parents set for them. They never feel free, and most every attempt they make to be normal is reprimanded. Their only escape is comic books, which they read and make themselves. These aren’t your average comics, though. They contain obscene characters such as “The Ass Kicker.” The “Altar Boys” can’t get anything straight, and the way they live their lives is very dangerous. Hence, we get the title: The Dangerous Live of Altar Boys.

     This is a title that will be very misinterpreted. The Dangerous Lives of Altar Boys, lost some viewers due to its rather edgy name. It even had fooled me until I saw the trailer. For those of you who think that this film is about priests sexually molesting teenage boys, that is not at all the case. The current events have jarred all of our minds. The plot is actually quite different, and has a very positive meaning at the end, that is quite stirring. The theme of the story is basically saying that the choices we make in our lives affect us in the long-run. All of the dialogue in The Dangerous Lives of Altar Boys acts as support to the gigantic climax, which is very close to the end of the movie. As a whole, the story is effectively moving and will be able to better several individuals’ lives.

     The cast is chock-full of new and old actors, whose performances are superb and are ultimately why I am recommending the movie. Despite the rather annoying and even grotesque voice Jodie Foster used to play the headmistress of the Catholic school that the “Altar Boys” attended, she was absolutely wonderful. The sternness of her character combined with the certain likeability she had with the churchgoers is indefinable, but was an excellent way to bring a character to life. Emile Hirsch was a very interesting choice for the role of a boy named Francis Doyle, one of the comic-geek “Altar Boys.” His character is a perfect example of a smart boy gone wrong. It goes to show us that intellectually empowered people can use their intelligence to do some very bad things. Kieran Culkin was even better. He plays Tim Sullivan, the evident leader of the comic book gang. Unlike Francis, Tim is a trouble maker because it is a way to take out the constant anger he has towards his parents. They are having problems with their relationship and he has grown to deal with the many consequences through ill-mannered activities. His class often prays for the better of his family, and this embarrasses him, so to cover up for the endless sadness it permits, he does not fold his hands while praying, but sticks up both of his middle fingers. My last actor/actress comment goes to Jena Malone, who plays Margie Flynn, Francis’ girlfriend. She is a bit of a freak when it comes to spirits and ghosts, because she believes in them. When she reveals a secret to Francis, he tells Tim. Tim tells a couple of people, and it begins to spread. The relationship between Francis and Margie is always shaky, but holds the story together. It also contributes to the films “R” rating, because of the numerous sensual shots of the two together.

     The Dangerous Lives of Altar Boys isn’t an exercise in fabulous filmmaking, but rather takes the basics and expands on them. The direction, production, and overall flair of the flick aren’t anything special; but the story is. This is the only film I know in recent day that can capture the true meaning of being a teenager and all of the pressure that it entails. There are also animated scenes which feature the comic of the boys, which is more simply put as an outlandish version of the group’s lives. As a whole, the “Altar Boys” succeed in making a solid flick.

-Danny, Bucket Reviews


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