Synopsis - Homer Wells (Tobey Maguire) is an orphan who never left the orphanage, and has grown up under the tutelage of the orphanage's resident doctor to become a reluctant but talented surgeon's assistant. When he realizes that he wants to experience the world outside he hitches a ride and gets a job at a cider mill, learning about life, love, and all that happy horseshit.
Music - The standard fare, I guess.
Acting - The perplexing title of this movie doesn't mean "The cider house is awesome", as I originally thought, but rather it refers to a set of rules that is tacked to the wall in the cider house where Homer gets a job. I don't understand the significance of the title, because the only thing on the list was a bunch of reasons why they can't go sit on the roof. It's hardly an earth-shaking metaphor for the human condition.
The overall purpose of this movie was somewhat lost on me. It seemed to touch on racism, the meaning of family, as well as the coming-of-age discovery of romance and responsibility, but it didn’t touch on any of them in a particularly solid way. I’ve always felt that Tobey Maguire is kind of a dope, always seeming kind of lethargic and dazed, and this wasn’t any exception. The worthwhile performance in this movie comes from Michael Caine, which is to be expected. What was a surprise was Erykah Badu, whose name you may recognize from the music world. She is a very successful hip-hop/R&B artist. Here she donned working clothes and a bandanna and played a relatively difficult role (emotionally). She was flawless. Erik Per Sullivan (known for his role as Dewey on Malcolm in the Middle) was also great, although his part was small, as a young boy afflicted with serious respiratory and heart illness. Kieran Culkin also had a small supporting role as one of the orphans. I don’t feel that I have a whole lot to say about this movie. It wasn’t really a tear jerker, but it wasn’t exactly devoid of emotion either. It was just sort of mediocre. Michael Caine picked up what Tobey Maguire dragged down, there was some cute screenwriting, and the story itself was just nice. Not stunning, just good. The rave reviews this film received perplex me. It’s just okay.
Other movies featuring these actors
Tobey Maguire - Pleasantville, Spiderman, Wonderboys, Empire Records
Michael Caine - Batman Begins, The Quiet American, Secondhand Lions, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels
Charlize Theron - The Italian Job, The Curse of the Jade Scorpion, Devil's Advocate, The Astronaut's Wife