- Alas, Poor Scrappy: Giuseppe is an annoying little scumbag, but it's hard not to feel sorry for him when he dies on the train tracks.
- Alternate Character Interpretation:
- It's easy to interpret Monti as an out and out narcissist. He never listens to Dito whenever his son tries to tell him something and frequently tries to make everything about himself. Notably he's more concerned with yelling at Dito for raising his voice than the fact that one of his friends was just murdered in front of him.
- Following the above interpretation, the fact that Laurie has no sympathy for Dito in the present suggests that Monti only told his version of the story - choosing to leave out his own abuse.
- Laurie comes down on Dito especially hard. One has to wonder if she believes that Dito shouldn't have left his family, or she's hiding behind that reason and she's really mad at Dito leaving her.
- When it comes to Antonio's implied jealousy at Dito and Mike hanging out, is it possible he just wants to be included? He asks both Dito and Mike if Frank will give him work too, and always seems to be trying to get Dito to hang out with him.
- Angst? What Angst?: Flori doesn't seem to have any ill-will at all towards her son for leaving and not contacting her for fifteen years. Of course it's possible she does have some but is choosing to keep it to herself to get Dito to come home. This is partly a result of Spared by the Adaptation - Flori had passed away and was divorced from Monti before Dito returned home - so they of course had no idea how she would have acted in real life.
- Darkness-Induced Audience Apathy: Some found the teens so violent and aggressive that they were hard to sympathise with. Dito, Mike and Laurie are nicer than their peers but it's hard to see since they live in such a Crapsack World.
- Ensemble Dark Horse: Although Shia Le Beouf and Channing Tatum earned a lot of praise, there was a lot of love directed at Anthony DeSando for his memorable small part as Frank the dog walker. Dito Montiel recalls being blown away at how accurately he recreated the real Frank's behaviour and mannerisms.
- Fanon: A common fan theory is that Frank committed suicide after his last scene with Mike and Dito. The fact that he's not mentioned in the present day portions, coupled with his erratic behaviour in his last appearance, leads people to believe he shot himself. The real Frank however was still alive at the time of filming.
- Fetish Retardant: Antonio and Jenny's decidedly un-sexy attempts to do it in the stairwell. Both of them are unpleasantly sweaty from the heat, and Jenny doesn't seem to be that into the idea at first. This is possibly intentional - as it's contrasted with a much more sincere and tender scene between Dito and Laurie afterwards.
- Funny Moments:
Laurie: You know my mother is right there in the other room?
- Antonio and Jenny try to do it in the stairwell - but Jenny burns her leg off the radiator.
- Dito tries to do a romantic Enter Stage Window at Laurie's...only to get the wrong window. He also rather bluntly tells her "I want to lick your pussy".
- He Really Can Act:
- Shia Le Beouf inspired this reaction from the director. Having to fight against his reputation as a Disney kid, he went ballistic in Dito's office and punched a hole in the wall. He turns in an intense and heart-breaking performance as the teenage Dito.
- Played with when it comes to Channing Tatum. This was one of his earlier films, before he got typecast in bland meathead roles. Making this a retroactive example, serving as a hint that he did have it all along - and would eventually show it in Foxcatcher.
- Hilarious in Hindsight: Giuseppe's death is sad in the film. But he lived in real life and Word of God says he got very excited when he heard he was killed off in the film.
- Ho Yay: This is a Channing Tatum movie after all. Here there's a bit between Antonio and Dito. Antonio is fiercely protective of Dito, and most of his violent actions stem from someone else antagonising him. He also doesn't like Mike precisely because Dito is spending a lot of time with him. Likewise one scene has Dito choose between telling Laurie he loves her and comforting Antonio. He chooses Antonio.
- Jerkass Woobie:
"...a guy who breaks your neck and tries to put it together because he didn't mean to do that..."
- Antonio is hit by his father and it seems as if he wants to better himself but doesn't know how. Notably he keeps asking Dito and Mike to let Frank give him a job, and he seems to like Mike but doesn't appear to know how to express it. He at least appears to have reformed in the end. Word of God described the character as:
- Giuseppe to a lesser extent. He defines himself as "Antonio's brother" and he's also The Friend Nobody Likes. It's clear that he's incredibly lonely but doesn't know what to do. The look on his face before he's hit by the train says it all.
- Monti may have been a lousy dad but he was genuinely devastated by Dito running away.
- Memetic Mutation: Channing Tatum walking down the street inexplicably shirtless, which he was ribbed for on The Graham Norton Show. It's even on the film's poster too.
- One-Scene Wonder: Diane only really appears in the first act of the movie and then disappears, but she is a very memorable character. Jenny as well to a lesser extent, since she has less to do.
- They Wasted a Perfectly Good Character: Laurie's two friends Diane and Jenny abruptly disappear in the second act and only show up in the background in a couple more flashbacks. Both were quite entertaining, Diane especially as a Cluster F-Bomb. Neither of them get so much as name-checked in the 2005 portions. Jenny being Out of Focus makes sense considering she didn't exist in the first draft - and was added in to make up for Eleonore Hendricks not getting the part of Laurie.
- Tough Act to Follow: Dito Montiel's directorial debut was a hit at the Sundance Film Festival. His follow-ups were met with So Okay, It's Average responses.
- Unintentionally Sympathetic: The movie tries to frame Dito as being just as bad as Monti - especially for abruptly leaving and never contacting the others again. Except he was fleeing an abusive home, a horrible neighbourhood and friends who didn't seem to care too much about him. So while never contacting his friends or family again is a little dickish, it's hard to blame him.
- Unintentionally Unsympathetic: Laurie is aggressively asking Dito if he loves her and demands an answer immediately. She does this at Giuseppe's funeral. As in she's more worried about getting her answer straight away than the fact that Dito is trying to comfort his best friend at his brother's funeral.
- WTH, Casting Agency?:
- Eric Roberts as the older version of Channing Tatum? Fifteen years have passed, yet there are twenty-four years between the two. Presumably Antonio aged badly in prison.
- In general the casting choices for the adult versions of the teens are usually met with raised eyebrows - if only for them not looking very alike. The exception seems to be Rosario Dawson as the older Laurie.
YMMV / A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints