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The Chocolate War (1988)

 -  Drama  -  18 November 1988 (USA)
6.9
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Ratings: 6.9/10 from 1,533 users  
Reviews: 37 user | 21 critic

A surreal portrait of a Catholic Private School and its hierarchy. A new student must submit to the bizarre rituals of his peers and the expectations of the school's administration by ... See full summary »

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Title: The Chocolate War (1988)

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
Brother Leon
...
...
Archie (as Wally Ward)
...
Obie
Corey Gunnestad ...
Goober
...
Emile Janza (as Brent Fraser)
Robert Davenport ...
Brian Cochran
...
Lisa
...
Brother Jacques
...
Carter
...
Caroni
Wayne Young ...
Gregory Bailey
Kurt Bloom ...
Impressed Kid on Bus
Wyeth Orestes Johnston ...
Senior 'Environment' Kid
Landon Wine ...
Frank Bollo
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Storyline

A surreal portrait of a Catholic Private School and its hierarchy. A new student must submit to the bizarre rituals of his peers and the expectations of the school's administration by selling chocolates. Written by Brooke <soylent@ican.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Drama

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

18 November 1988 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

The Chocolate War  »

Box Office

Gross:

$303,624 (USA)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Doug Hutchison, who portrayed 16-year-old Obie Jameson, was 27 when this movie was filming. See more »

Quotes

Bill Carter: All right, Archie. As head assigner, you're the brains of this outfit and you also got us into this mess. Where do we go from here?
Archie Costello: [addressing the Vigils] Guys, you're all pushing the panic button for nothing. First of all, you can't go around beating up half the kids in the school that call us names. The brothers would shut us down in no time and people would really start sabatoging us if we started hurting people as a way of keeping everyone in line. That is why I like to lay off the ...
[...]
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Connections

Featured in The Celluloid Closet (1995) See more »

Soundtracks

In My Room
Performed by Yazoo (as Yaz)
Written by Vince Clarke
Used with permission of Stainless Music (BMI) on behalf of Sonet Records and Publishing Ltd.
Courtesy of Sire Records / Mute Records
By Arrangement with Warner Special Products
See more »

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User Reviews

 
In the face of intimidation, who is the last one standing?
3 March 2004 | by (Orlando, Florida) – See all my reviews

In my book there are about five political films (as of this writing) that I revere as the best that I've ever seen (and though some may argue with my choice, don't forget that I have not seen every political film ever made). One of those five is Kieth Gordon's, The Chocolate War.

Actually, I found myself watching this film when searching out titles starring Ilan Mitchell Smith who portrays Wyatt Donnelly in Weird Science. And, I walked away being a new fan of Keith Gordon-directed films. (For those of you who don't recognize the name, Keith played the lead in John Carpenter's Christine). His talents as a director far exceed his acting abilities. And, for those of you who have enjoyed the Chocolate War, I recommend watching Gordon's film from the early '90s drama, A Midnight Clear, another adaptation.

I never got through the Chocolate War on the first try. It was a little too gloomy for my liking. But after a full viewing on the second try, I came to love this film. It's based on the fantastic Robert Cormier novel of the same title, which was once censored reading for some public schools. It is a nearly word-for-word adaptation, but has a different ending.

Mitchell-Smith portrays Jerry Renault, a student at a private all boy's school. The acting headmaster, played the very excellent John Glover, decides that because the school is running out of money, they will hold a chocolate sale to boost the revenues. Renault doesn't want to participate, for his own reasons. But, he's the only one. And before Renault's influence can spread to the rest of the boys and cost the school their needed profits, the headmaster employs the services of a vindictive and influential secret society at the school known as The Vigils, headed by Archie (Wally Ward). Thus, the test comes down to this: in the face of intimidation, who will break?

Filmed on what looked like the dreariest days in Washington state, this is a very gloomy movie, but nonetheless presents a powerful psychological study of what people will do under pressure when alone or when in groups. I thought everyone in the movie did a fantastic job (and surprise--nearly everyone--except for maybe Adam Baldwin--looked like they were actually high schoolers). Like other commentors have posted, it is not your usual feel good eighties fun fest.

Gordon changes the ending, but does not make it a happy-ending. Instead, the vicious cycle of inhumane power-wielding structures continue to exist, but in hero-less manner different than imagined by Cormier (as it had to be, since Cormier developed a sequel to the book). It is one of the most intelligent political films and well worth watching.


17 of 24 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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DVD finally on the way!/Comment on ending RGsboy
Finally a DVD date! runamokprods
Soundtrack mistermycroft
Why change the book? jasonay
I THINK THEY SHOULD REMAKE THE CHOCOLATE WAR MOVIE diamond6727
Loved the movie ! - Should I read the book? vash_da_stampede
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