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The Dangerous Lives of Altar Boys (2002)

R | | Comedy, Drama | 28 June 2002 (USA)
2:22 | Trailer

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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 »
2 wins. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Tyler Long ...
Joey Anderson
Arthur Bridgers ...
Donny Flynn (as Arthur Bridges)
Scott Simpson ...
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


Trouble is Their Only Defense Against Boredom 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?


Emile Hirsch and Jena Malone reunite again in Into the Wild (2007), in which they played as Christopher McCandless and Carine McCandless. See more »


When Tim and Francis are walking with the dog, a truck can be seen behind them in one shot but not in the next. It subsequently passes right by them. 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 Night of the Vampires (1964) See more »


Do It For the Others
Written and Performed by Stephen Stills
Courtesy of Atlantic Recording Corp.
By Arrangement with Warner Special Products
See more »

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User Reviews

Totally great
18 July 2004 | by (The Penumbra) – See all my reviews

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.

36 of 41 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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