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The Greatest Teenage Drama of All Time
*I wrote this review last year for my university's newspaper. Thus, it contains a bit of summary, but nothing that overtly gives any specific plot instances away.*
2002's "The Dangerous Lives of Altar Boys" endures as one of the greatest and most under- appreciated dramas of all time. The movie is heavily based on the novel of the same title by Chris Fuhrman; it was Fuhrman's only novel before he tragically passed away from cancer at age 31. The film adaptation, set in a 1970s American town, features three of the industry's most gifted young actors: Emile Hirsh, Kieran Culkin and Jena Malone. Hirsh and Culkin star as Francis Doyle and Tim Sullivan, close friends who journey through their maladjusted teen years as students of a strict Catholic nun, played by Jodie Foster. As the boys work on their adventurous and obscene comic book, the film incorporates unique cinematography by bringing the animated scenes to life alongside the basic storyline. Francis' and Tim's adventures demonstrate the teenage mind's ability to arrive at surprisingly deep philosophical conclusions about life's meaning and morality. The film masterfully develops these characters and shows them dealing with complicated and weighty issues such as perverseness in domestic relationships and premature death. Culkin's funny, heartfelt and insightful portrayal of Tim single-handedly tears down the societal parallel between supposed moral maturity and existential knowledge. The misbehaviors of the teens become entirely understandable and relatable to the honest viewer, for the carefully-crafted characters truly embody essence of humanity. The ability of "The Dangerous Lives of Altar Boys" to appeal to the literary mind the film offers odes to the works of William Blake while incorporating vigorously entertaining animations which allow hope to endure amidst tragedy marks the drama as unique and undoubtedly worthwhile to those who appreciate good art.