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Not so much the action movie

I picked up the Dangerous Lives of Altar Boys DVD last week, and watched it over the weekend. I’d managed to miss it in the theaters, since although Jodie Foster is a strong selling point for me, Todd McFarlane is not. However, after watching Igby Goes Down I was pretty pleased at the thought of watching Kieran Culkin again.

Not a bad little movie. Not great — it probably overreaches at the end, in terms of plot — but pretty good. The core of the movie is the nature of teenage desire and ennui, and if you forgive the twist at the end you won’t have much to complain about. I think the actors did a great job of nailing the complexity of first love, teenage sexuality, and the sheer boredom that leads one to be a complete idiot.

Despite the title, it’s not really terribly important that the kids go to Catholic school. I gather it’s a semi-autobiographical story, which explains that choice. The animated sequences, on the other hand, are pretty important. It’s not that they reveal anything very surprising about the way the kids think of themselves, and they certainly don’t reshape any of the plot. They do, however, provide the movie with a propulsive sense of action which I think distinguishes it from a lot of indie coming of age flicks. The animation ruthlessly strips away sentimentalism, because it’s so cheesy and in places tawdry.

Definitely worth owning, for me.

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