The Dangerous Lives of Altar Boys (2002)

R  |   |  Comedy, Drama  |  28 June 2002 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.1/10 from 11,823 users   Metascore: 69/100
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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?


Chris Fuhrman died of cancer before completing the final draft of the book. The movie is dedicated to him at the beginning of the final credits. See more »


In the scene where Donnie is fighting Francis, it is clearly visible that it is in fact Francis. But when it zooms in on Donnie punching Francis, it is someone else. This boy has blonde hair instead of black hair. Than as the boy rolls over, you can clearly tell that it is Francis and his hair is back to it's normal color. 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 »


References The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974) See more »


All The Same
Written and Produced by Joshua Homme (as Josh Homme)
Performed by Joshua Homme (as Josh Homme), Nick Oliveri & Brad Wilk
Mixed by Alain Johannes
See more »

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User Reviews

Sweet Look At Young Love, with Original Animation Fantasy
12 December 2005 | by (Queens, NY) – See all my reviews

"Dangerous Lives of Altar Boys" is very similar to "Stand By Me," with the nice addition of a non-stereotyped girl and a stereotyped nun (played by producer Jodie Foster) in the mix.

Young love is shown the sweetest I've seen in a long time (oy, I'm still apologizing to a certain boy in my head when he was so sweet to me at that age and I didn't know how to handle it; oh well, I didn't have a script based on a book to follow.)

Emile Hirsch and Jena Malone are marvelous, especially with the very serious sides of their lives, though the lousy parenting is only vaguely shown with shouting.

While the gambits of their crew are a bit unbelievable as they try to put fantasy into their real lives, their fantasy comic life through Todd McFarlane animation is a lot of fun (I was a fan of McFarlane's HBO series "Spawn.") I've never seen a super-hero with such sensitive eyes!

(originally written 6/23/2002)

11 of 17 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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