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The Chocolate War (1988)

R | | Drama | 18 November 1988 (USA)
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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2 nominations. See more awards »

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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

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Language:

Release Date:

18 November 1988 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

A Guerra do Chocolate  »

Box Office

Gross:

$303,624 (USA)
 »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

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Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The film had a paltry music budget of about $15,000. Most of the artists featured on the soundtrack allowed the filmmakers to use their songs at bargain basement prices. David Bowie, however, asked for $100,000 to utilize his song "Heroes" during the final scene and credits, so Kate Bush's "Running Up That Hill" was substituted. See more »

Quotes

Brother Leon: I'm warning you Archie, if the sale goes down the drain, you and the Vigils go down the drain. We all go down the drain together!
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Connections

Featured in The Celluloid Closet (1995) See more »

Soundtracks

Ode to Boy
Performed by Yazoo (as Yaz)
Written by Alison Moyet (as Allison Moyet)
Used with permission of Emile Music (ASCAP) on behalf of Sonet Records and Publishing Ltd.
Courtesy of Sire Records / Mute Records
By Arrangement with Warner Special Products
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User Reviews

 
This ain't "Ferris Bueller"
1 August 2000 | by (Tennessee) – See all my reviews

Dark, strange, slightly amateurish yet oddly compelling, "The Chocolate War" is an excellent antidote to the happy-go-lucky teen films made popular by John Hughes in the 1980's. Based on the popular book by Robert Cormier, the story concerns Jerry Renault (Ilan Mitchell-Smith, "Weird Science"), a bright but sad young man coping with his mother's untimely death (which has also turned his father cold and distant). Jerry is a student a prep school known as Trinity, where he clashes with a sadistic "secret fraternity" known as the Vigils and the oh-so-slightly-mad acting headmaster Brother Leon (played to perfection by John Glover). At first by order of the Vigils, and then on his own, Jerry refuses to participate in the annual fund-raising chocolate sale, which not only angers Brother Leon but also causes an assortment of other problems. Yes, this is a rather simplistic summary, but going into great detail will not only take a lot of time but will also spoil the viewing experience.

"The Chocolate War" is the directorial debut of actor Keith Gordon ("Christine," "Back to School"), who also wrote the screenplay. The film is a fairly faithful adaptation of Cormier's novel, but the ending is changed significantly. Fans of the book argue that Gordon's ending for the film is too "tidy" or "happy," but in it's own way the film ends on a rather despairing note, with no easy answers or solutions.

Obviously filmed on a shoestring budget, "The Chocolate War" still boasts wonderful performances by its young cast. Mitchell-Smith is quite good as Jerry Renault, as well as the previously mentioned John Glover. Wally Ward (better known today as Wallace Langham of "Veronica's Closet") is very good as the Vigils' evil "assigner" Archie, and Bud Cort ("Harold and Maude") has a funny cameo as another teacher. Sometimes the pacing is slow, and sometimes the director attempts to be a little too "artistic" in his style; the film also suffers from a soundtrack that was dated even when the movie was made (the music comes from such new-wave dinosaurs as Yaz and Kate Bush). But "The Chocolate War" is a very thoughtful, well acted, compelling piece of work, and that is a cinematic rarity. Barely seen at the time of release and sometimes hard to find in video stores, "The Chocolate War" is well worth watching...and also well worth reading.


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