I'll forego my opportunity to cleverly riff on the film's title, as I'm sure many will have a field day doing in light of current world events. Director Peter Care's (best known for his work on music videos and commercials) debut feature The Dangerous Lives of Altar Boys, based on the 1994 novel by late author Chris Fuhrman, is a film about children made primarily for an adult audience. It's a thoughtful meditation on the thrills and difficulties that come with being a fourteen year old in a world where every older, authority figure seems to be oppressive, apathetic, or both. Combine Care's compassion for his characters and methodical pacing with a number of crazed, Todd McFarlane-created animated sequences, and what results is a unique telling of a structurally traditional, coming-of-age story.
Set in the 1970's, Francis (Emile Hirsch) and Tim (Kieran Culkin) are two irreverent, trouble-making friends who attend the same Catholic high school. Their archenemy is Sister Assumpta (Jodie Foster), an immensely strict nun, who rules the school with an iron fist. Seeking a more even playing field, Tim and the artistically gifted Francis, with the help of a few friends, create a comic book where their superhero alter egos do battle with the evil forces of Sister Assumpta.
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