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The Dangerous Lives of Altar Boys (2002)

R  |   |  Comedy, Drama  |  28 June 2002 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.1/10 from 11,770 users   Metascore: 69/100
Reviews: 122 user | 77 critic | 31 from

A group of Catholic school friends, after being caught drawing an obscene comic book, plan a heist that will outdo their previous prank and make them local legends.



(book), (screenplay), 1 more credit »
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Cast overview, first billed only:
Tyler Long ...
Joey Anderson
Arthur Bridgers ...
Donny Flynn (as Arthur Bridges)
Scott Simpson ...
Mrs. Doyle
Mr. Doyle (as Mike Harding)
Chandler McIntyre ...
Jeffrey West ...
Professor Sullivan
Mrs. Sullivan
Nicky Olson ...
Colin Gibbney


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

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


One of the most inventive, funny coming-of-age films in years! See more »


Comedy | Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for language, sexual content and youth substance use | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

28 June 2002 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Innocent Boys  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office


$12,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$55,000 (USA) (14 June 2002)


$1,779,284 (USA) (8 November 2002)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


The final shot in the scene where the boys find an injured dog was actually just footage shot of the actors "resetting" after a blown take. It was kept in since it so clearly shows their fatigue and frustration. See more »


Movie takes place in the 1970s but when the boys are riding their bikes to buy comic books, they drive past a house with a late '80s Buick parked in its driveway. See more »


[first lines]
Francis Doyle: Tell me again why we're doing this.
Tim: Homework, Francis. Your future's built on it.
Francis Doyle: [whispered] Right.
See more »


Performed by Joshua Homme (as Josh Homme)
See more »

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User Reviews

17 August 2002 | by (Minnesota) – See all my reviews

The Dangerous Lives of Altar Boys is probably my favorite book of all time. Jena Malone is unbearably cute. This was without a doubt the most disappointing moviegoing experience of my life. Kiernan Culkin and Malone both turned in good performances, but the movie was lacking in too many areas to mention them all. Bottom line, read the book, or rent this movie in a few months (if you can find it) only to admire Jena Malone and the fairly interesting animation from that guy who did "Spawn." The character interaction was horrible, the story was muddled and unrealistic, and what was an amazing novel is now a pointless movie...I've been wanting to make a film out of this book for years, and now its been done and destroyed. It's a damn travesty if I've ever seen one.

4 of 6 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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