August 11, 2013

Funeral Kings

Kevin & Matthew McManus, 2012

Andy (Dylan Hartigan) and Charlie (Alex Maizus) like getting called out of class to serve as altar boys in funerals. The benefit is they are not expected to return to class afterward - which gives them the freedom to do whatever they want to do for the rest of the day.

This film blends in the profanity laced elements of Superbad with the mischievous and adventurous nature of the hooligans in Attack the Block. They put on a good show for the adults at the church, who are unassuming of them as long as they see them every week as altar boys. As soon as they remove the garb, the filter is removed. The film accurately examines the sudden freedom of a 14 year old. The freedom to roam the streets and get into trouble. The act of trying to look cool smoking cigarettes. Stuck in the middle of puberty and discovering pornography. While the profane dialogue was at first distracting, it soon dissolves into the story and you get caught up in the nostalgia of being a teenager again. Andy and Charlie are separated from their third altar boy buddy and get teamed up with David (Jordan Puzzo) for a funeral. David is the innocent California transplant, who has clearly had more of a parental presence than the other two boys. The forceful bullying of Andy and Charlie with David feels familiar in a way. When you're a teen, you don't realize that you can discard the bad kids from your life. At times you can feel trapped. While Charlie's character is obnoxious at times, there is still a sense of innocence to his character. He doesn't tolerate condescension. He wants respect. He wants to get the girl. The party scene is played out so well, it really brings you back in time. Sure, they weren't invited to the party and they aren't overly welcome there. But its the thrill of being there. The thrill of being with the older kids. The picture effectively sees things through the eyes of a 14 year old. The characters have more depth than the kids in Superbad, and the disturbing moral dilemma the boys have to confront is spot on in it's purity.

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