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Refreshingly different film succeeds on many levels!

  • Nov 8, 2002
THE DANGEROUS LIFE OF ALTAR BOYS is not a film about the current Catholic controversies, so don't let the title steer you away from a throughly fine piece of movie making. As endlessly outlined in the other reviews, ALTAR BOYS is a story of how young boys deal with the world both within their narrow space of a small town Catholic school and neighborhood and with the greater obstacles of the world outside their sphere of influence. The film introduces a quartet of lads who seem to be heading us toward a hilarious sequence of misadventures revolving around their shared view of Sister Assumpta and the rigidity of life inside the parochial classroom. The manner in which these grand plans begin to misfire introduces metaphors of the rite of passage for men, the rise of testosterone effects, the discovery that all is not what it appears to be, and that even plots of seemingly innocent mischief can have life-altering consequences. The story is enhanced by the director's choice to turn the screen into a comic book world when the visions of the boys grow larger than life. And no, this is not the usual obnoxious interference of animated characters pasted on the real life screen of breathing people. This is cinematic witchcraft at its finest. The actors are uniformly excellent - Emile Hirsch, Kieran Culkin, Jena Malone, Jody Foster, Vincent D'Onofrio, et al - and ably traverse the tightrope from comedy to tragedy. This is a movie to pay attention to, not just pass over because it seems like a 'kid thing'. There is much to be learned from the minds of these youngsters. A superb little movie.

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Grady Harp ()
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Grady Harp is a champion of Representational Art in the roles of curator, lecturer, panelist, writer of art essays, poetry, critical reviews of literature, art and music, and as a gallerist. He has presented … more
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A refreshing and honest portrayal of adolescent Catholic boys.The Dangerous Lives of Altar Boysfollows Tim (Kieran Culkin) and Francis (Emile Hirsch) as they engage in aimless vandalism and mockery--not from malice but boredom. Sadly, the theft of a religious icon and a plan to kidnap a cougar result in far more serious consequences than either boy intends. The authenticity of the characters and dialogue make the movie work; both script and performances are genuine and consistently surprising. Jena Malone, as a troubled girl who gets involved with Francis, is particularly good, but the whole cast (which includes Jodie Foster and Vincent D'Onofrio) does excellent work. In capturing both the harm and the good that teenagers can do,The Dangerous Lives of Altar Boystranscends the usual rebellious-kids storyline. The movie features animated segments that depict Francis's fantasy life, created by Todd McFarlane (Spawn).--Bret Fetzer
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Director: Peter Care
Genre: Drama
Release Date: June 14, 2002
MPAA Rating: R
DVD Release Date: November 5, 2002
Runtime: 1hr 45min
Studio: Sony Pictures
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