The Cider House Rules

I left work and bought a burrito before going home.  I watched “The Cider House Rules.”  The stars were Tobey Maguire, Charlize Theron, and Michael Caine.  I had seen this movie once before, and I had forgotten that people like Paul Rudd, J.K. Simmons, and Jane Alexander were in it.  The director was Lasse Hallström, known for “My Life as a Dog,” “What’s Eating Gilbert Grape,” and “Chocolat.”  There are a lot of things going on in the story of “The Cider House Rules,” but I would say that it doesn’t all come together.  You’ve got an orphan named Homer Wells, who wants to go out into the world, and there is a theme of whether abortions should be performed.  World War II is going on, and the workers who pick apples have their conflicts.  Given that Leonardo DiCaprio was in “What’s Eating Gilbert Grape,” you would think he would be a good fit for this film, as he and Hallström could have done interesting things.  I liked watching Tobey Maguire, although I had a hard time believing that anything kind of relationship could have developed between him and Candy, played by Charlize Theron.  I don’t think that I was convinced that he had the point of view he was supposed to have during the discussion of the movie “Wuthering Heights.”  I wondered about the timeline of this story, because “Wuthering Heights” was from 1939, and the newsreel features footage of James Stewart from 1943, apparently, and the ending at the orphanage is in 1945.  The first time I saw this movie my mother commented to me that the movie was just starting when Homer was leaving the orphanage.  I thought that was a slight indication of the problems of this movie.  It takes a long time to make its points, and then its points are unclear.  It mixes together a lot of ideas, but all that happens is that a young man leaves to see the world, goes as far as Maine, and then returns.  Michael Caine won an Oscar for this movie.  I wouldn’t say that it was his greatest work.  I kept wondering why a doctor would be so careless with ether.  I think I will really remember him for “Alfie,” “The Man Who Would Be King,” and “Hannah and Her Sisters.”  Charlize Theron looked beautiful but could have been more.  I guess in the novel there was a longer relationship between Homer and Candy.  Paul Rudd was in this movie a few years after “Clueless,” but I couldn’t see him as someone going off to war in Burma, not after he’s been in all those comedies.  One of the special features of the DVD is a documentary called “The Cider House Rules: The Making of an American Classic,” whose title I thought clearly overstated the importance of the movie in cinema history.  It has some memorable parts to it, but it doesn’t hold up to examination.  I tried to think of why “My Life as a Dog” was a better film when the approaches to both had similarities.  I kept thinking at the end that I wouldn’t want to have Homer as a doctor.  He was still a young fellow, about 24 at the time.  Hallström directed “Chocolat” in 2000, which in my memory was a more enjoyable film than “The Cider House Rules.”  I heard about the death of Chris Cornell, who was only 52.  The news was very disturbing to me.  Some of the people who died on May 18 include Gustav Mahler (1911), Arthur O’Connell (1981), Jill Ireland (1990), and Elizabeth Montgomery (1995).  Today is a birthday for Tina Fey (47) and Reggie Jackson (71).  According to the Brandon Brooks Rewind radio segment for May 18, The Beatles began their first tour of the UK as headliners at the Adelphi Cinema in Slough in 1963.  In 1979, “Beyond the Poseidon Adventure,” starring Michael Caine and Sally Field, was released.  In 1988, Daws Butler, who was the voice of the cartoon characters Yogi Bear, Quick Draw McGraw, Snagglepuss, and Huckleberry Hound, died of a heart attach at age 71.  In 1990, Judy Carne was arrested at JFK Airport on an 11-year-old drug warrant.  In 1995, Elizabeth Montgomery died of cancer at age 62.  In 2001, “Shrek” was released.  In 2003, “Les Miserables” ended its 16-year run on Broadway after 6,680 performances.

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