Dangerous Lives of Altar Boys
Kieran Culkin, Jena Malone, Emile Hirsch, Vincent D'Onofrio and
Directed by: Peter Care
Animated sequences by: Todd McFarlane
Rated: PG 13
INTERVIEW with Jodie Foster & Jena Malone
Bluntly speaking?TDLOAB will have you running the
gamut of emotions till you're left breathless at its climatic
moving, unique and a genuine joy to watch. One
of the most original films I have seen in a long time.
mixes a coming-of-age tale about two Catholic boys Tim and Francis
with pop thrust animations by Todd McFarlane (Spawn creator) seamlessly
to create a spinning tale of a boy's shaky bridge cross into adulthood.
(Emile Hirsch) and Tim (Kieran Culkin) are best friends. They
live a normal life riddled with normal childhood happenings. Francis'
home life is average. He's not as angst riddin at most kids and
'acts out' by sketching cathartic cartoons and absorbing, digusting,
what's going on around him; grow. Tim's family on the other hand
is a tad dysfunctional and his parents tend to scream at
each other from rise to shine. Tim's reaction is to 'act out'
much to the utter dismay of Sister Assumpta (Jodie
pointed joyless sister, who comes complete with a creepy fake
leg, attempts to shake him down with threats of damnation and
the usual Catholic guilt trip stuff. Tim just wants more.
often talks his best buddy Francis and the other two chaps in
the 'gang' Wade (Jake Richardson) and Joey (Tyler Long) into pranks
the otherwise wouldn't have dreamed up.
with most young boys the four also enjoy comic books. They each
have an altar ego in mind and Francis illustrates the characters
in a notebook. He also lampoons Sister Assumpta. She becomes the
evil motorcycle driving Nunzilla and the school's principle, Father
Casey, shows up on a few pages, drawn in decidedly unholy naughty
positions with the good sister. Good clean boy fun
a school trip to a local zoo the boys' lives are destined, for
better or worse, to change forever. Francis finally speaks with
his secret love Margie (Jena Malone) and
Tim thinks up what might be his best prank ever.
is all Francis can think about; well her and his cartoons. But
alas the dainty soft spoken Margie is not all she appears to be
and has some real troubling secrets that will ultimately catapult
Francis into the harsh unfair facts we all face in adulthood.
Tim's newest and most extravagant prank to date involving a stolen
holy piece, a cougar, and a lot of cough syrup will also
catapult him from this childhood
in the seventies, thankfully, the filmmakers restrained from making
yet another 'That Seventies Show' rip-off. There are bellbottoms,
tacky household trinkets and real plastic LP albums all
over the place but the era never takes the fore front.
McFarlane, the genius animator of the boys' alter-ego cartoon
characters, even manages to keep the animated sequences in the
70's style comic book style. You know cloud-like dialog voices
ala Saturday morning hookey, bold colors and subversive. It certainly
doesn't look like Shrek or the CGI of
today, but it's not meant to and it's still beautiful and streamlined
as all McFarlane's work is. The animation edits are placed within
the story following parallel helping Francis deal with his surroundings.
They play within Francis' head as he grows and learns how gray
area and different life can be from what he'd expected. It's brilliant.
Culkin his that notorious twinkle in his eye and was perfectly
cast as Tim the mischievous leader.
Emile Hirsch is innocence on and off the screen. He's a delicate
boy, sensitive and again perfectly cast.
Malone is the real star of the film. Like her producer and costar
Jodie Foster this "child" actress is blossoming into
a major talent. This role, Margie, was so deep and dark under
the layers of normal. A lesser actress could have reduced the
role into a campy overdramatic shock festival on an episode of
'Dawson's Creek' or something. Malone has a fascinating career
ahead of her if her eye for a script stays this tuned!
Foster, as always, delivers perfection. Her nun bordered on hysterical,
though there wasn't a funny bone in the nasty habit's body.
D'Onofrio as Father Casey the cigarette smoking, nun watchin'
booze sneakin' bored-with-his-job priest was a small but powerful
role for the mighty thespian.
Bravo to Peter Care, the director, working with this cast and
script and pulling it off so perfectly could not have been easy
he certainly made it look like it was. Enjoy.
Recommendation: Large popcorn and a soda
wanna stay put for this one!