The Dangerous Lives of Altar Boys: James Bridges
EW Staff
April 18, 2002 AT 04:00 AM EDT

The Dangerous Lives of Altar Boys

Current Status
In Season
110 minutes
Limited Release Date
Kieran Culkin, Emile Hirsch, Vincent D'Onofrio, Jodie Foster, Jena Malone
Peter Care
Jeff Stockwell

We gave it a C+

A chain-smoking priest, a peg-legged nun, and a group of comics-obsessed teens. Sound like the setup for a joke? Actually, they’re the characters in first-time feature director Care’s 1970s rite-of-passage drama set in a lazy Southern hamlet. Hirsch and Culkin play two Catholic schoolkids who channel boredom and pubescent longing into a violent, sacrilegious comic book called ”The Atomic Trinity,” which gets them into hot water with their teachers (D’Onofrio and Foster).

”It’s kind of a ”Stand by Me” for the stoner rock set,” says Care of his adapation of Chris Fuhrman’s 1994 novel. ”Except that it injects a bit more pop culture and 12 minutes of animation” — courtesy of ”Spawn” creator Todd McFarlane. The famed animator, says Care, ups the amperage by kicking the visuals into the unpredictable world of the teenage subconscious. When Care, a music-video and commercial director, first approached Foster with the script, he had no plans to cast the two-time Oscar winner in the movie. ”No, her role was producer. That’s it,” he says. ”But she fell in love with Sister Assumpta. What are you going to do? It’s Jodie Foster — love her!” And what’s up with her wooden leg? ”Well, it’s in the book, plus we agreed that she wouldn’t be a hottie nun…. And the prosthetic leg was made just for her, like a keepsake. But Vincent…oh, boy!” What Care is referring to is the fact that D’Onofrio packed on 30 to 40 pounds for another film, ”which was good for us because now he’s got that looming presence — chain-smoking and drinking, you know, one of those priests.”

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