6.9/10
1,858
39 user 22 critic

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
Reviews

On Disc

at Amazon

2 nominations. See more awards »

Photos

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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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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

Gross USA:

$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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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

Archie Costello: You've disobeyed the Viglis once already Jerry. This calls for punishment. Now, we the Vigils don't believe in physical violence, but we've found it necessary to have a punishment code. The punishment is usually worse then the assignment. We can make your life sad. But we're letting you off easy Jerry. Tomorrow, we're simply asking you to sell the chocolates.
Bill Carter: We're not asking Archie, we're telling!
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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

 
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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