The Cider House Rules

Lasse Hallstrom's leisurely adaptation of John Irving's unconventional coming-of-age novel is so well crafted and intelligent that it feels churlish to point out that it's easier to admire than actually like. Set in the late '30s and early '40s, it revolves around young Homer Wells (Tobey Macguire), who's been raised in a New England orphanage run by Dr....read more

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Lasse Hallstrom's leisurely adaptation of John Irving's unconventional coming-of-age novel is so well crafted and intelligent that it feels churlish to point out that it's easier to admire than actually like. Set in the late '30s and early '40s, it revolves

around young Homer Wells (Tobey Macguire), who's been raised in a New England orphanage run by Dr. Wilbur Larch (Michael Caine), a progressive sort who trains Homer in medicine and performs abortions on the side. When a privileged young couple, Candy and Wally (Charlize Theron, Paul Rudd), show up

for the procedure, Homer befriends them and, against Larch's wishes, goes off to work in an apple orchard owned by Wally's mother (Kate Nelligan). There he encounters towering field hand Mr. Rose (Delroy Lindo) and his daughter Rose (pop star Erykah Badu); after Wally goes off to war, a reciprocal

affection develops between Homer and Candy. The good news is that the various betrayals that make up the rest of the movie never seem melodramatic or overwrought. The bad is that Hallstrom's tone is weirdly off — he gives the material a vaguely ironic edge that just doesn't mesh with the

on-screen tragedies. The large ensemble cast (which ranges from Jane Alexander to rapper Heavy D) is, however, a whole other story. Caine (who's mastered the intricacies of an American accent since the fiasco of 1967's HURRY SUNDOWN) is particularly good here, as is Lindo in the difficult role of

an apparent moral paragon. But Theron's reckless, tormented ingenue is the real revelation; if you ever thought she was just another pretty face, this is the time to get over it.

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  • Released: 1999
  • Rating: PG-13
  • Review: Lasse Hallstrom's leisurely adaptation of John Irving's unconventional coming-of-age novel is so well crafted and intelligent that it feels churlish to point out that it's easier to admire than actually like. Set in the late '30s and early '40s, it revolve… (more)

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