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THE DANGEROUS LIVES OF ALTER BOYS ,2002
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THE DANGEROUS LIVES OF ALTER BOYS, 2002
Movie Reviews

Directed by Peter Care
Starring: Jodie Foster, Emile Hirsch, Kieran Culkin and Jena Malone
Review by Russell Hill



SYNOPSIS:

A group of four friends who attend a Catholic school plan revenge against their teacher.

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REVIEW:

Again discovering this film by pure luck because of its relatively low price of £1 at my local drugstore, this movie was surely the hit of this reviewers week due to it dealing with the complexity of teenage life and the sheer quality of the performances by the young actors’ and seasoned performers who each give a top-notch demonstration into the craft of acting.

In its simplest of terms, this movie would be labelled as coming-of-age but also demonstrates the value of friendship when one’s back is up against the wall. Based on the semi-autobiographical novel by Chris Furhman, its scenes and personalities seem just like ones which even you might have encountered during that difficult period that is adolescence. The main relationship of the movie is between Francis (Hirsch) and Tim (Culkin). Full of harmless japes, they are more preoccupied with comic books than with girls. As this is an American film, it has to have a baddie and this comes in the form of their teacher Sister Assumpta (Foster). A good hearted Nun she might be, but finds it difficult to understand her students’ japes and tomfoolery.

The relationship between these two pals changes somewhat when Francis finally acts like a man and asks Margie (Malone) out. They have quite an innocent relationship, with their awkwardness evident for all to see. However, when Margie discloses a secret to her love he finds himself repulsed, with this revelation too hard to swallow. As the movie progresses, their relationship falters in some ways but due to youthful naivety they carry on their romantic path but Francis always has that secret in mind when locking lips with his girl.

Throughout the movie, there are several intercuts of “Atomic Trinity”; a comic book which the four friends are responsible for creating. With some quite awesome action, these moments are often better than the live-action film itself with the action more than impressive for an independent movie. Although not completely finished by our four leading characters, the action is probably the result of our heroes’ imaginations. This can definitely be said with confidence when finding that the enemy of “Atomic Trinity” is Sister Assumpta, who rides an awesome motorbike and travels around surrounded by villainous Nun’s who want to destroy the good guys. No matter what your opinion on cartoons is, it really is something else and I hope for its DC or Marvel commission.

Unlike many movies which discuss the coming of age, the actors in the film are not thirty but in fact more like the age which the characters they portray are meant to be. Despite this lack of age, it sure doesn’t show in their performances. Like many of the movies which I have seen her appear in, Jenna Malone shows her ability here to play the emotionally fragmented character of Margie. She is seen as the weird kid in school with a surreal edge to her, and throughout her performance you might just imagine her breaking into a flood of tears over the smallest of affairs. Likewise can be said with Hirsch. His youthful persona and nervousness whilst around the fairer sex can certainly be related to in this reviewers’ experience. To be fair, Kieran Culkin will always have big shoes to fill courtesy of his universally recognised brother. Despite this, Culkin certainly takes one step closer to being recognised as a prolific actor due to his performance as the comical and class joker Tim rather than the younger sibling of the former child star. He seems at such ease in front of the camera, and thanks to his recent stint on the stage it seems as though this is one actor who is not restricted by Hollywood but instead spreads his wings across a number of arenas.

Despite it being labelled as a coming of age movie, the performances by the relatively young cast who actually are closer to twenty than the normal age range of thirty found in the actors and actresses of this type of film are simply top-drawer with the uneasiness of youth and finding that first love acted to perfection by all. With many of these actors and actresses having taken on critically recognised roles, “Dangerous Lives of Altar Boys” acts as the foundations of what is now a burgeoning career for all involved.

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