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In mid-1970s Savannah, two bright but rebellious boys, Francis Doyle and Tim Sullivan, fight boredom, hormones and harsh teachers as they struggle to find something meaningful beyond the walls of their parish school. Francis, an exceptional artist whose imaginative forays into a fictional universe of good and evil fill his notebooks with comic-book imagery, creates a netherworld of superhero alter egos for the two boys. When the ultra-strict Sister Assumpta seizes their artwork one day, the boys embark upon an obsessed trail of revenge that ultimately changes their lives. Written by
Sujit R. Varma
The Dangerous Lives of Alter Boys is kind of like a cross between The Virgin Suicides and Stand By Me. Set in the 70's (featuring many cool 70's haircuts) in small town Georgia, the story focuses on Francis, a 14-year-old dreamer and troublemaker. He and his pals, Tim, Wade, and Joey cope with life under the oppressive rule of one-legged nun Sister Assumpta (Jodie Foster) at the Puritan Christian high school they're unfortunate enough to attend.
One of their methods of escape is the 'The Atomic Trinity' comic book. Each of them have their own character with superpowers (such as The Muscle, Captain Asskicker and Skeleton Boy), battling against the tyrannical regime of Nunzilla/Pegleg (a gross caricature of Sister Assumpta). These fantasy stories make up the terrific animated sequences of the film. The cool thing is that they are not so totally removed from the reality of Francis, Tim, Wade and Joey.
The boys soon find their way into a lot of trouble though. After stealing the school's nun statue mascot the quartet plan to steal a cougar from the zoo and put in Sister Assumpta's office. A mad plan yes, but their determination and invention behind it is very clever.
Some scenes of the film are very emotional, so if you have soft spot you'll find it tough to get through the scene where Tim finds a dying dog by the side of the road or Francis reading a poem at the funeral.
Francis' relationship with Margie (the very cute Jenna Malone) also takes many curious and unique turns. The scene with the ghost watching them sleep was pleasingly weird.
Taken from the one and only book (posthumously) by Chris Fuhrman (a book I must get as soon as I see), The Dangerous Lives of Alter Boys is attractively shot, wonderfully acted and definitely worth getting.
The DVD is in 1.85:1 widescreen (strangely non-anamorphic, though the region 2 version is) with Dolby 5.1 sound and a mild bunch of extras.
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