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The Dangerous Lives of Altar Boys
Starring: Kieran Culkin, Jena Malone, Emile Hirsch, Vincent D'Onofrio and Jodie Foster
Directed by: Peter Care
Animated sequences by: Todd McFarlane
Rated: PG 13

INTERVIEW with Jodie Foster & Jena Malone HERE

Bluntly speaking?TDLOAB will have you running the gamut of emotions till you're left breathless at its climatic end.
Witty, moving, unique and a genuine joy to watch. One of the most original films I have seen in a long time.

TDLOAB 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.

Francis (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' in school much to the utter dismay of Sister Assumpta (Jodie Foster).

The 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.

He 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.

As 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….

After 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.

Margie 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.

Meanwhile 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….

Set 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.

Todd 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.

Kieran 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.

Jena 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!

Jodie Foster, as always, delivers perfection. Her nun bordered on hysterical, though there wasn't a funny bone in the nasty habit's body.

Vincent 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….but he certainly made it look like it was. Enjoy.

Snack Recommendation: Large popcorn and a soda…you're gonna wanna stay put for this one!

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