The Dangerous Lives of Alter Boys (2002)

This movie is tagged as a coming of age movie; essentially it pits two boys against order and structure characterized by a Roman Catholic school. What it did quite well was brought the viewer, at least for me as a man, back to what it felt like to be a boy on the verge of manhood.

The first thing it did is it didn't clean up the boys too much by giving them clever one-liners, though some of the mooshy stuff was gag aweful, but most teenage poetry is that way, so maybe it belonged. The boys did what boys do: ride bikes, make up fantasy worlds, talk about girls, and rebel in their individual way.

The acting by the kids was great. Jenna Malone has yet to disappoint me and Kieran Culkin is awesome. Jodi Foster was a disappointment though. I'm not sure if it was bland acting or writing. I need to learn to tell the difference.

An interesting distinction of Alter Boys is that it incorporates a comic book animation to help tell the story. I found this very effective in lending some lateral strength to the boy's characters and motives.

I am quite tired of the Catholic cliché of being the granite wall to break through to freedom. Perhaps it is used because there are indeed so many people who went to Catholic school (I did). But I find it very uninteresting. Could they maybe have used something like... hmmm, there isn't anything else besides sports that counts as a standard societal passage into manhood. Therein lies the real problem.


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