Before I say anything else, let me clarify that this movie has nothing to do with all the current scandals involving the Catholic church.
OK, moving on.
Believe it or not, yours truly, the creepy, depraved, and altogether not well writer of bad reviews and even worse attempts at creative writing, was once an altar boy.
But I must not have been very important, because Iím pretty sure I never got to ring the bell.
But yeah, for a little while anyway, I was a servant in the House of the Lord.
Anyway, this movie was, and now kind of remains, an enigma to me.
I probably wouldnít have even have heard of it if I hadnít seen an interview with Jodie Foster and Jena Malone about the film. That was where I discovered the basic premise of the movie: Catholic school boys hate their Nun/ Teacher and fantasize about life as super-heroes, which would be seen in animated segments from Todd McFarlane, the artist that made Spider-man very popular before starting his own successful comic book, Spawn.
So I knew I had to see it.
So I saw it, and Iím sorry to say I was badly under-whelmed.
The movie's creators seem to have had their hearts in the right places, but like Iím fond of saying, "good intentions pave the road to hell". They meant well, but the movie seems to go all over the place. I mean, I donít mind a "dramedy", because life is all about variety, but with The Dangerous Lives of Altar Boys we never get a clear sense of what direction the movie is going in.
The film does have a great cast though.
Jodie Foster and Vincent DíOnofrio have smaller roles as Sister Assumpta and Father Casey. We all know what great actors these two are, so enough about them.
Jena Malone, who may just be a goddess in the making, turns in another excellent performance. Sheís been growing up and this role, while still a teenager, is her most adult yet.
By the way, she was in another Jodie Foster film, as a young Jodie in Contact.
Emile Hirsch plays the brooding artist / altar boy Francis, and heís pretty amazing. He does a great job, and I expect we will be hearing more from this talented young man.
And playing the scheming, mischievous Sullivan is Kieran Culkin.
This kid, well, heís not that young anymore, is a great actor. I already new that from seeing him in the under-rated The Mighty, but his performance here confirms it. Heís really, really good. I hope he keeps on keeping on.
I really wanted to like this movie, but couldnít. At times I was even a little bored. I was even disappointed with the animated sequences which looked no better than afternoon TV cartoons.
But like I said, there was something deep down under it all and that keeps me from really disliking the movie. I may have to read the book by Chris Fuhrman, as the original source is often better than their movie counterparts.
So I canít say I really recommend this movie.