6.7/10
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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 »

Director:

Keith Gordon

Writers:

Robert Cormier (novel), Keith Gordon
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2 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
John Glover ... Brother Leon
Ilan Mitchell-Smith ... Jerry Renault
Wallace Langham ... Archie (as Wally Ward)
Doug Hutchison ... Obie
Corey Gunnestad Corey Gunnestad ... Goober
Brent David Fraser ... Emile Janza (as Brent Fraser)
Robert Davenport Robert Davenport ... Brian Cochran
Jenny Wright ... Lisa
Bud Cort ... Brother Jacques
Adam Baldwin ... Carter
Ethan Sandler ... Caroni
Wayne Young Wayne Young ... Gregory Bailey
Kurt Bloom Kurt Bloom ... Impressed Kid on Bus
Wyeth Orestes Johnston Wyeth Orestes Johnston ... Senior 'Environment' Kid
Landon Wine 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 | Plot Synopsis

Genres:

Drama

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Doug Hutchison, who portrayed 16-year-old Obie Jameson, was 27 when the film was made. See more »

Quotes

[Archie is on the phone with Janza who has just told Archie about him and a gang beating up Jerry]
Archie Costello: [into the phone] WHAT? Janza, can't you do anything right?
Emile Janza: [into the phone] Hey, you said that the guy should take a hint about what he's up against. So, I thought I give him a brutal ass-kicking to show him that it's not nice to mess around with the Vigils. I asked some kids to assist me with the brawl.
Archie Costello: [into the phone] Who were they? I don't want outsiders involved in this!
Emile Janza: [into the phone] Just some ...
See more »

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 »

User Reviews

 
In the face of intimidation, who is the last one standing?
3 March 2004 | by vertigo_14See 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.


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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

18 November 1988 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

A Guerra do Chocolate See more »

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Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$14,351, 20 November 1988

Gross USA:

$303,624

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$303,624
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

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