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"THE DANGEROUS LIVES OF ALTAR BOYS"
(2002) (Kieran Culkin, Emile Hirsch) (R)

Alcohol/
Drugs
Blood/Gore Disrespectful/
Bad Attitude
Frightening/
Tense Scenes
Guns/
Weapons
Heavy Moderate Extreme Moderate Mild
Imitative
Behavior
Jump
Scenes
Music
(Scary/Tense)
Music
(Inappropriate)
Profanity
Heavy Minor Moderate None Extreme
Sex/
Nudity
Smoking Tense Family
Scenes
Topics To
Talk About
Violence
Extreme Mild Moderate Heavy *Extreme


QUICK TAKE:
Drama: A group of Catholic high school boys experience the fun, turmoil and pangs of adolescence as they grow up in the 1970s.
PLOT:
It's the 1970s and Tim Sullivan (KIERAN CULKIN) and Francis Doyle (EMILE HIRSCH) are best friends who attend the same Catholic high school run by Sister Assumpta (JODIE FOSTER) and Father Casey (VINCENT D'ONOFRIO). Along with their friends Wade (JAKE RICHARDSON) and Joey (TYLER LONG), the boys are mischievous troublemakers.

When not driving Sister Assumpta crazy by their antics and pranks, they're drawing their comic book series, The Atomic Trinity, where they imagine themselves as superheroes battling their nun-based, motorcycle riding arch-nemesis, Nunzilla.

As the boys straddle the fine line of adolescence where sometimes they act mature and at others they behave in a decidedly juvenile fashion, Francis finds himself drawn to a young and pretty girl, Margie Flynn (JENA MALONE), whose calm demeanor masks all sorts of inner chaos.

With Francis and Margie becoming an item, Tim sets his sights on sedating and borrowing a mountain line from a nearby game preserve as something of a surprise gift for Sister Assumpta who's rightly accused the boys of stealing a statue of the church's patron saint, but can't prove it.

As Tim proceeds with his plan and Francis learns some surprising things about Margie and her past, the boys and their friendship change in ways they never could have imagined.

WILL KIDS WANT TO SEE IT?
The title might be a draw to some, as might the teen rebel angle, but unless potential viewers are fans of someone in the cast, it doesn't seem likely that many kids will want to see it.
WHY THE MPAA RATED IT: R
For language, sexual content and youth substance use.
CAST AS ROLE MODELS:
  • KIERAN CULKIN plays an adolescent troublemaker who, along with his friends, seemingly enjoys stirring things up and getting into trouble. He also uses strong profanity, drinks and smokes pot (and one cigarette).
  • EMILE HIRSCH plays his best friend who does all of the above and also fools around with Margie.
  • JENA MALONE plays a troubled teenager with a dark past who's sweet on Francis, fools around with him, and admits to having sex with her older brother in the past.
  • VINCENT D'ONOFRIO plays the rough around the edges priest who coaches the boys in soccer and smokes a few times.
  • JODIE FOSTER plays the strict nun who's constantly disappointed and shocked by what the boys do.
  • JAKE RICHARDSON and TYLER LONG play Tim and Francis' other troublemaker friends who also drink.
  • CAST, CREW, & TECHNICAL INFO

    HOW OTHERS RATED THIS MOVIE


    Curious if this title is entertaining, any good, and/or has any artistic merit?
    Then read OUR TAKE of this film.


    (Note: The "Our Take" review of this title examines the film's artistic merits and does not take into account any of the possibly objectionable material listed below).


    OUR WORD TO PARENTS:
    Here's a quick summary of the content found in this R-rated drama. Profanity consists of at least 8 "f" words, while many other expletives and colorful phrases are also used. Various instances of sexually related dialogue are present, a teen couple makes out with some groping, while various hand-drawn sketches show nude women (full frontal and rear nudity).

    In addition, a teenager admits to having sex with her older brother in the past. Other thematic issues involve that girl admitting to attempting to kill herself in the past, a boy's parents loudly fighting in front of him, and the overall issue of teens who become troublemakers. Accordingly, there is all sorts of mischievous behavior that some impressionable kids may want to imitate, as well as varying degrees of bad attitudes.

    Violence is listed as extreme due to the content of various cartoon-based moments in the film where animated cartoon characters fight and kill other such characters, sometimes with resultant cartoon blood. Live-action violence includes some fighting among kids and a cougar fatally mauling a teenager (with some bloody results).

    Finally, the teenage boys drink in various scenes, two of them smoke pot given to them by an adult who also sells them a more powerful drug to be used as an animal tranquilizer, a few drug references are made, and various characters smoke cigarettes.

    If you're still concerned about the film and its appropriateness for yourself or anyone else in your home who may be interested in seeing it, we suggest that you take a closer look at our detailed listings for more specific information regarding the film's content.

    For those concerned with bright flashes of light on the screen, some strobe-like effects occur late in the film.


    ALCOHOL OR DRUG USE
  • Tim drinks from a bottle, as does Francis.
  • We hear that there are problems in Tim's family (including alcoholism).
  • Francis jokes that a monotone park guide smoked a few joints in her life. Moments later, Tim mocks the guide smoking a joint.
  • The guys pour liquor into their sodas and ginger ale. The guys then drink more, including beer. The guys then eat anchovies to cover the smell of alcohol on their breath.
  • Later, and after Francis and Margie have been kissing, she tells him next time to bring some of whatever he's been drinking.
  • The four boys drink.
  • Francis and Margie drink from a bottle he states is a collection of many types of liquor that he skimmed from bottles that his dad opened.
  • Francis and Tim use many bottles of Nyquil as the basis of a tranquilizer they're going to use on a cougar.
  • Tim and Francis pay a comic book dealer for some unknown but illegal and strong drug (later identified as angel dust) that they plan to use to tranquilize a cougar they plan to steal (the man says it's enough to knock out an elephant). That man then asks if they want to smoke a "roach" (joint) and the boys accept. We then see them afterwards, reacting to being high.
  • Margie admits that sex with her brother was her idea. She states that she tricked him while he was "stoned."
  • The boys drink some beer.
  • BLOOD/GORE
  • One of the friends has drawn a picture of defecation (brown objects) from a cartoon character that had "the sh*t kicked out of him."
  • We see some cartoon blood on or around characters in certain violent animated segments of the film.
  • Francis' elbow is bloody after a fight.
  • Tim and Francis find a wounded and bloody dog on the side of the road that's been hit by a car. Tim then has blood on his shirt after carrying the dog that then dies.
  • In a cartoon, one of the superheroes tears off his flesh to turn into a skeleton superhero (all cartoon-like in degree).
  • Francis has some blood form his nose during a fight.
  • A boy is bloody after being attacked by a cougar.
  • DISRESPECTFUL/BAD ATTITUDE
  • Tim and Francis (and to some degree their friends) have bad attitudes toward Sister Assumpta and Father Casey and some viewers may see them as having bad attitudes toward the church.
  • After calculating where a utility pole will land after being cut down, Tim and Francis proceed to cut just enough of the bottom of the pole (with a chainsaw) so that they can run to their spot and then watch as the top of the pole comes falling toward them.
  • The guys simultaneously grab their clothed crotches upon saying good morning to a statue atop the church as they enter it.
  • One of the guys mocks the way in which Sister Assumpta walks (with her wooden leg).
  • The guys steal a statue from atop the church and later act like they know nothing of it when asked and then accused of having something to do with the theft.
  • Francis and Tim use many bottles of Nyquil as the basis of a tranquilizer they're going to use on a cougar (that they'll put into darts used in a blow gun) that they plan on stealing. They then feed a cat some food spiked with their concoction, but we don't see what happens to the cat.
  • A man sells drugs to Tim and Francis to use as a tranquilizer (for the above purpose) and then offers some pot to them to smoke.
  • Margie's older brother keeps throwing a soccer ball quite hard at Tim during practice, including purposefully hitting him in the crotch with it. Later, he picks a fight with Francis.
  • Margie admits that sex with her brother was her idea. She states that she tricked him while he was "stoned" and then blackmailed him into "doing it all of the time." She then says that she loved it and it's all she thought about.
  • FRIGHTENING SCENES
  • The guys practice using a pulley system by lifting a large and heavy statue off its base atop their church. They then begin to lose control of it and slip toward the edge as the statue dangles from a rope high above the ground as they barely hold on (as Father Casey unknowingly stands below it). After he goes back inside, they then let go and the statue freefalls toward the steps but the rope and pulley system catches at the last moment, stopping the statue just inches above the steps.
  • Tim and Francis find a wounded and bloody dog on the side of the road that's been hit by a car. Tim then has blood on his shirt after carrying the dog that then dies.
  • After Margie has spoken a few times about a ghost being in her room, Francis wakes up to find a woman sitting on the bed, starring at him. That figure then comes over and keeps looking at him lying on the floor, but then disappears.
  • A cougar comes out of nowhere in a pen and attacks a boy, mortally mauling him (we see a disorienting view of the attack and don't see anything incredibly graphic).
  • GUNS/WEAPONS
  • Cartoon Sword: Used by characters in some of the violent, animated sequences.
  • IMITATIVE BEHAVIOR
  • Phrases: "Quit f*cking around," "Who's f*cking around?" "Get f*cking real," "I know what f*cking real is," "You're on your f*cking own," "Ding-f*cking-dong, the bitch is dead," "Bullsh*t," "You haven't done sh*t," "Holy sh*t," "Bitch," "Ass kicker," "Boner" (erection), "You suck," "Shut up," "You're such an asshole," "Ass wipe," "You're an idiot," "Moron(s)," "Let's kick some ass," "Loser," "Such a freak out," "Sucked," "Sucks," "Get your ass over here," "Pissed," "The hell with you," "Turd," "I screwed up," "How stupid are you?" "Stupid ass" and "What the hell is this?"
  • Francis loudly belches.
  • After calculating where a utility pole will land after being cut down, Tim and Francis proceed to cut just enough of the bottom of the pole (with a chainsaw) so that they can run to their spot and then watch as the top of the pole comes falling toward them.
  • The guys simultaneously grab their clothed crotches upon saying good morning to a statue atop the church as they enter it.
  • Tim gives "the finger" in Sister Assumpta's direction (with his hand in his cast when he's supposed to be praying). Francis gives the finger to a passing car that honks at him.
  • One of the guys has drawn one of those cartoon flip pages showing a nun walking up some stairs and then being hung by a noose (the animation results from the various pages - each with one drawing - being flipped in order).
  • The guys eat anchovies to cover the smell of alcohol on their breath.
  • A comment is made about putting some Valium in the communion wine in the past.
  • Francis and Margie drink from a bottle he states is a collection of many types of liquor that he skimmed from bottles that his dad opened.
  • Francis and Tim use many bottles of Nyquil as the basis of a tranquilizer they're going to use on a cougar (that they'll put into darts used in a blow gun) that they plan on stealing. They then feed a cat some food spiked with their concoction, but we don't see what happens to the cat.
  • The boys use a drug-spiked blow dart to tranquilize a cougar in a pen.
  • JUMP SCENES
  • A cougar comes out of nowhere in a pen and attacks a boy.
  • MUSIC (SCARY/TENSE)
  • A moderate amount of such music plays during the film.
  • MUSIC (INAPPROPRIATE)
  • None.
  • PROFANITY
  • At least 8 "f" words (1 used sexually as is the term "screwing"), 24 "s" words, 2 slang terms for male genitals ("d*ck"), 1 slang term for breasts ("t*ts"), 17 asses (6 used with "hole"), 5 hells, 3 damns, 1 crap, 4 uses of "Jesus," 3 of "Oh Christ," 2 of "Jesus Christ" and 1 use each of "G-damn," "Christ," "God," "Jesus H. Christ" and "Oh Jesus" as exclamations.
  • SEX/NUDITY
  • We see quick views of drawings including a nude woman and her bare butt and some other very quick shots that show bare breasts and full frontal.
  • Tim mentions Francis' "obvious boner" in relation to him liking Margie. One of the other guys questions whether Francis is going to "get something off her." He then says that she made out with him and used her tongue.
  • One of the guy shows a poor drawing of his idea of the sexual "69" position (nothing graphic and it's hard to tell what we're looking at), and one jokes that it looks more like "47." One then shows a more realistic sketch of a nude woman that shows her bare butt (and the guys comment that she has a "great butt"). We also see a cartoon of guy's bare butt.
  • After Father Casey says he'd like to see different positions on the soccer field, Tim jokingly states that's what Francis would like to say to Margie.
  • One of the boys comments that the problem with one of their comic book characters, Major Screw, is that he "screws guys" and "goes down on people" (double entendres). The guys then talk about another character and whether he has a "d*ck" and one then mentions that guys do have bones in their pants and that's why they call it a "boner."
  • We see one of Francis' sketches that shows a bare-breasted woman and later seen more sketches of nude women (with one guy saying a naked woman is the work of God).
  • A park ranger talks about the head of a sexually aroused adult gobbler changing colors.
  • A comment is made about a warm washcloth and lots of soap in relation to Joey and masturbation.
  • The guys look through a magazine and comment on seeing a woman's nipples (and that being the point of the magazine), but we don't see anything.
  • Francis and Margie briefly make out. They then sit on a sofa and kiss some more.
  • Tim quizzes Francis about his time with Margie and asks, "Did you feel her up? and "Did you see her t*ts."
  • After Tim states that he burned the skin off his hands while trying to hold onto a rope holding up a heavy statue, Francis jokingly replies, "There goes your sex life."
  • Francis and Margie make out again, this time lying down, and he puts his hand on her clothed breast. After a break, Francis comments on Wade kissing her in the past and she states that she's done a lot of worse things than that. She then states that she let her older brother, Donny, "do things to me." She then states that they did everything (meaning sex).
  • Tim asks Francis if he's doing anything with Margie yet.
  • Francis tells Tim about Margie and her brother and Tim then says he knows someone who did it with his own cousin.
  • Francis and Margie make out on her bed and he reaches up and is working on her bra strap (they're then interrupted). Later, they kiss some more while on the floor (including nuzzling her neck) and we then see a montage of them making out, including him putting his hand up inside her shirt to her breast (we don't know what else they did as we then see them sleeping together afterwards, but both are still clothed).
  • After Margie's older brother throws a soccer ball and hits Tim in the crotch (asking if that's low enough), Tim replies that it's not as low as "f*cking your own sister."
  • Margie admits that sex with her brother was her idea. She states that she tricked him while he was "stoned" and then blackmailed him into "doing it all of the time." She then says that she loved it and it's all she thought about.
  • We see more cartoon drawings of bare-breasted women.
  • One of the boys asks Joey how the warm washcloth thing is going (in reference to the above entry).
  • SMOKING
  • Father Casey smokes several times, while Francis, Tim and a miscellaneous man each smoke once.
  • TENSE FAMILY SCENES
  • We hear that there are problems in Tim's family (alcoholism and adultery). In one scene, Francis stops by at night and sees Tim's parents loudly arguing in front of him (Tim tries to ignore them by watching TV).
  • Margie admits to having sex with her brother in the past.
  • TOPICS TO TALK ABOUT
  • The adolescent years where kids start to become adults, become troublemakers and experience love and/or sex.
  • Margie states that she tried to kill herself in the past (due to having sex with her older brother).
  • Poet William Blake and Sister Assumpta's assessment that he was a dangerous thinker.
  • Prosthetics (Sister Assumpta has a wooden leg).
  • Incest - Margie admits to having sex with her brother in the past.
  • VIOLENCE
  • After calculating where a utility pole will land after being cut down, Tim and Francis proceed to cut just enough of the bottom of the pole (with a chainsaw) so that they can run to their spot and then watch as the top of the pole comes falling toward them.
  • We see quick cartoon footage of violent moments, including a bomb going off, a head put into a vise and squeezed, arms falling out, little cartoon characters blowing up, knocking an evil cartoon nun around, etc.
  • Tim kicks a soccer ball that hits Father Casey on the back of the head.
  • Wade hits Joey on the head with a comic book.
  • In a cartoon, we see that Nunzilla and her minions have a woman tied up in a sack between poles. We then see the boys turn into their superhero alter-egos and throwing and hitting various villains. The superhero in the sack (a woman) then comes out and cuts a motorcycle in half. One then tries to hit Nunzilla with a utility pole, but hits a fire hydrant instead.
  • Sister Assumpta briefly struggles with a student over a book, eventually causing it to rip in half.
  • Francis slams a jar of booze onto the street in anger.
  • We see more cartoon violence involving the imaginary superheroes and the villains. One character decapitates a villainous nun, while others smash and hit more nuns (in comic book fashion), and two of the superheroes are then taken out by the villains. A character is then cut in half and more hitting follows (elbowing, smashing heads, etc.), with the evil nun then slicing and severely wounding the female superhero (one then crushes the nun).
  • Tim makes a rock hit Francis in the face and Francis then pushes him in return before stomping on a cage Tim was making. The two then get into a fight with struggling (and Francis cuts his elbow) and a stolen statue falls over, breaking off one of its fingers.
  • We see more cartoon violence where characters hit and smash other characters. One woman bites a character's arm.
  • Margie's older brother keeps throwing a soccer ball quite hard at Tim during practice, including purposefully hitting him in the crotch with it.
  • That brother then later confronts Francis, pushes him off his bike and then down to the ground where the two struggle. The brother punches Francis and they struggle some more with the brother smashing Francis into a fence. He then kicks him down and then kicks him in the chest.
  • We see more cartoon violence with characters hitting and smashing characters. The evil nun then prepares to drive a spike-equipped motorcycle into several bound superheroes.
  • The boys tear up Sister Assumpta's office in a manner similar to what a cougar would do (as they prepare to bring a cougar there). They break statues and tear up paper, etc.
  • More cartoon violence includes a skeletal finger impaling a woman in her head and then her being smashed beneath something.
  • A cougar comes out of nowhere in a pen and attacks a boy, mortally mauling him by biting him on the neck (we see a disorienting view of the attack and don't see anything incredibly graphic).
  • More cartoon violence includes a large monster killing one of the superheroes.



  • Reviewed June 11, 2002 / Posted June 21, 2002

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