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Overall Rating

Awesome: 39.81%
Worth A Look47.22%
Average: 7.41%
Pretty Bad: 2.78%
Total Crap: 2.78%

9 reviews, 54 user ratings

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Cider House Rules, The
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by EricDSnider

"The cider house doesn't just rule. The cider house ROCKS!!!"
4 stars

The titular cider house ("titular" is a word I enjoy working into a review whenever I can) doesn't appear until quite a ways into the film, which is based on John Irving's novel by the way, and even then we don't realize right away that it's a "cider house," specifically. We just thought it was a place where the hired help lived.

But I'm ahead of myself. The story begins in St. Cloud's, Maine, in 1943. Dr. Wilbur Larch (Michael Caine, almost shedding his British accent, but still pronouncing "our" as "air") is a kindly old doctor who runs an orphanage, delivers babies whose mothers plan to give them up, and performs illegal (but medically safe) abortions. Oh, and he's addicted to ether.

He truly is a loving man, and Caine is excellent in the role as "caretaker of many, father of none." This is no Miss Hannigan, "Annie"-style orphanage. Larch loves the boys and girls under his care, and they love him. "Good night you Princes of Maine, you Kings of New England," he says to the boys each night after reading them bedtime stories. And he means it.

The closest thing he has to a son is Homer Wells (Tobey Maguire), an orphan who never got adopted and whom he has taught to be a doctor all his life. In fact, as far as Larch is concerned, Homer IS a doctor, as fully qualified as if he'd gone to medical school.

Homer, however, sees that life in an orphanage is no place for a young man, so when a young lady named Candy (Charlize Theron) comes with her boyfriend Wally (Paul Rudd) to have an abortion, he rides with them back to an apple orchard run by Wally's family. Soon he's picking apples for a living, and he's just as happy as can be, especially when Wally goes off to war and Homer develops a relationship with Candy, which leads to dilemmas not a few. Larch thinks Homer is missing his true calling in life, but Homer's happy to live in the cider house with the migrant workers.

The "cider house rules" is a list posted on the wall. None of the workers can read, so they don't even know what the rules are. Once Homer arrives and reads them aloud, they realize they've been breaking every one of them, but they still don't care: These rules were made by the orchard owners, not the people who actually have to live and work there. Sometimes in life, one has to disregard the rules because rare indeed is the rule that ALWAYS applies in EVERY situation.

That's the recurring theme in this evenly paced, well-crafted film. Sometimes a lie is OK. Sometimes an abortion is OK. Sometimes what we've been taught is "right" isn't right. Time and time again, characters in the film demonstrate this idea -- gently, for the most part (though the pro-choice abortion stance is pretty flagrant), and in a way that avoids controversy. Few audience members would disagree with the characters' actions; it's what we would do, too.

Maguire is appealing as Homer, if not particularly deep. The film resonates well, with some truly touching moments -- scenes that earn tears without jerking them. The end is perfectly satisfying, and the movie as a whole is a sweet, light-hearted, gently odd piece of fiction.

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originally posted: 07/01/03 16:10:26
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User Comments

3/12/17 Ed Riddick Poetry in cinema. 5 stars
6/20/14 dr.lao Caine earned his Oscar here 4 stars
6/14/12 The Madison Swede Addicting...but always cry through the whole thing. 5 stars
2/15/10 vijay kulkarni excellent movie, stays with you for a while 5 stars
12/23/09 John Smith It treats powerful subjects and slowly meanders about them letting the viewer decide 4 stars
12/14/09 homer once in a rare while, a very beautiful and unforgettable movie comes along. 5 stars
12/02/08 Shaun Wallner Well made. 4 stars
11/23/08 C. Kohll Excellent film. Multiple moral issues at work, very well done. 5 stars
9/14/07 Tracy LOVE this movie!!!! 5 stars
8/11/07 fools♫gold Gotta question Theron's character's comment on smoking at that time, but what do I know? 4 stars
3/14/07 jennifer I love this story and i dont care what other people say! 5 thumbs up! 5 stars
4/20/06 christine glenn I was an enjoyable film, portrayed well, john irving has done a great job 4 stars
11/23/04 John Armitt Lasse Hallstrøm direction at its best 5 stars
10/24/03 laurabetty surprisingly addictive! 5 stars
9/21/03 R.W. Welch Slow and a bit soapy but nicely acted. (It's no King Kong.) 4 stars
8/02/03 john Propaganda need not be in theatres 1 stars
4/08/03 Mystique Wonderful! 5 stars
2/01/03 Phil M. Aficionado Thoughtful and thought provoking. Beautifully conceived and done. Lump in the throatish 5 stars
3/18/02 Teresa Well done story of one orphan, Homer Wells. Haunting. 5 stars
2/25/02 Jenny Tullwartz Cider louse druels! Charlixe Theron so wicked my nephew didn't even enjoy her bare ass! 2 stars
2/21/02 Xaver There is some solid acting...a bit depressing. 4 stars
1/21/02 Andrew Carden Wonderful, but Dramatic Movie. 5 stars
9/10/01 Carrie It was a little slow at first - but definitely a MUST see! 4 stars
8/27/01 Will Tobey and Charlize where fucking awesome 5 stars
7/23/01 D.R. Even ignoring it's one-sided PC pro-abortion rant, it still didn't offer much 1 stars
6/26/01 Tzila Seewald It's makes me cry! 5 stars
5/30/01 Jake McGuire is flawless. Caine's performance was overrated. 5 stars
5/15/01 Emm I cried first time around Tobey McGuire is brilliant :) 5 stars
4/23/01 Linda Blomfelt excellent movie; good story line; well acted 5 stars
4/21/01 Juliet Appiah I personally think the movie more than excellent 5 stars
3/23/01 veronica Awesome. Toby McGuire is so hot. 5 stars
2/27/01 Elvisfan It was OK, not such a big deal & where did Caine get that accent? 3 stars
2/01/01 Dan Waldman The Cider House RULES! 5 stars
1/18/01 Terrie Smith Great cinematography; nice music; Caine's fine performance. However, slightly overrated. 4 stars
11/29/00 Cristopher Revilla heat warming movie, you won't be dissapointed 5 stars
11/03/00 john linton roberson Bland, oddly flavorlesss adaptation of a truly great book. 3 stars
6/12/00 Lisa One of the best, most powerful films I've ever seen!!! 5 stars
5/15/00 Tracy Two fab things: Tobey Maguire and John Irving. 5 stars
4/01/00 Arnaldo Cruz good movie but Y have seen better not nominated for an academy 4 stars
3/24/00 Jennifer Offensive. Immoral. Bad acting. 1 stars
3/20/00 Malbert Did I miss something? I'm wondering how this shitty movie got even 1 oscar nomination 2 stars
3/01/00 PhilmPhreak A truly fine film. 4 stars
2/27/00 Bueller A thoughtful tale woven with care. Very enjoyable. 4 stars
2/26/00 Joanie Great movie. Maguire and Caine are excellent. 5 stars
2/22/00 ZXasd asd 5 stars
2/22/00 toneely I've seen this movie three times now.because I wanted my friends to see something GREAT 5 stars
2/19/00 "Persnickety "Jenn Michael Caine is amazing as always, very nice film 5 stars
1/21/00 Spetters Hallstrom was the only man to tackle Irving! Magnificent! 5 stars
1/17/00 Mic Excellent in all departments - directing, writing, acting. Worth a look. 4 stars
1/09/00 Pierce Lanson Challenging subject matter, Micael Caine is great , warm ,nice relationships, I loved it. 4 stars
1/08/00 Kate One of the best films released in ages. Wonderful story and well developed characters. 5 stars
12/19/99 schmo3 One of the year's biggest disappointments. 2 stars
12/19/99 Mr Showbiz While charming, an extended anti-climax. 4 stars
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  17-Dec-1999 (PG-13)


  13-Jan-2000 (M)

Directed by
  Lasse Hallström

Written by
  John Irving

  Tobey Maguire
  Charlize Theron
  Michael Caine
  Delroy Lindo
  Paul Rudd
  Kathy Baker

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