The Cider House Rules

Alternate Title: Kings of Planned Parenthood
1999 Nominee

I can’t be the only person who noticed that the piano score is the same music from the Tim Allen Pure Michigan commercial, right? That’s at least one reason to watch the movie…or to visit Michigan or whatever that ad is selling.

Anyway,¬†The Cider House Rules¬†takes its title from the John Irving novel of the same name – and rightly so; he wrote the screenplay too. It’s about an orphanage in Maine (not Michigan), where Dr. Larch (Michael Caine) assists hopeful children who have yet to find families and would-be mothers who would rather not deliver babies. That’s right; Dr. L does abortions. To be honest though, that doesn’t constitute the bulk of the story.

Homer Wells (Tobey Maguire) is one of the said abandoned children who didn’t ever quite find a family that fit. As a grown, but still young, man, Homer helps Dr. Larch with gynecological procedures and helps the children feel as at-home as one can feel in an orphanage. However, Homer becomes curious about living his own life. When Candy Kendall (Charlize Theron) and Wally Worthington (Paul Rudd) come to the orphanage for help – with an abortion, not with choosing less comic book sounding names – Homer asks to return to their home with them afterward.

The two veterans of the real world introduce Homer to life working as an apple picker or a lobster fisherman. Wally is a captain in the military during World War II, so his stay at home is a short one. Candy soon takes Homer under her wing and after several admissions of, “not being any good at being alone,” Candy gets awful sweet with Homer.

Homer and Dr. Larch correspond, but coldly, as the doctor not-so-subtlely wishes his apprentice would come back to the orphanage and take up the post of doctor himself.

The apples here are good for the picking. It’s a heartfelt story whose characters are easy to love.

Now it’s Your Turn…
The Cider House Rules was nominated for Best Picture in 1999, but did the Academy get it right?

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