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The Cider House Rules (1999)

PG-13 | | Drama, Romance | 7 January 2000 (USA)
2:04 | Trailer

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A compassionate young man, raised in an orphanage and trained to be a doctor there, decides to leave to see the world.


Lasse Hallström


John Irving (novel), John Irving (screenplay)
2,669 ( 61)
Won 2 Oscars. Another 6 wins & 29 nominations. See more awards »





Cast overview, first billed only:
Tobey Maguire ... Homer Wells
Charlize Theron ... Candy Kendall
Delroy Lindo ... Mr. Rose
Paul Rudd ... Wally Worthington
Michael Caine ... Dr. Wilbur Larch
Jane Alexander ... Nurse Edna
Kathy Baker ... Nurse Angela
Erykah Badu ... Rose Rose
Kieran Culkin ... Buster
Kate Nelligan ... Olive Worthington
Heavy D ... Peaches
K. Todd Freeman ... Muddy
Paz de la Huerta ... Mary Agnes
J.K. Simmons ... Ray Kendall
Evan Parke ... Jack (as Evan Dexter Parke)


Homer is an orphan in remote St. Cloud, Maine. Never adopted, he becomes the favorite of orphanage director Dr. Larch, who imparts his full medical knowledge on Homer, who becomes a skilled, albeit unlicensed, physician. But Homer yearns for a self-chosen life outside the orphanage. When Wally and pregnant Candy visit the orphanage Dr. Larch provides medically safe, albeit illegal, abortions Homer leaves with them to work on Wally's family apple farm. Wally goes off to war, leaving Homer and Candy alone together. What will Homer learn about life and love in the cider house? What of the destiny that Dr. Larch has planned for him? Written by Martin Lewison <MLewison@utk.edu>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


A story about how far we must travel to find the place where we belong.


Drama | Romance

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG-13 for mature thematic elements, sexuality, nudity, substance abuse and some violence | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »


Official Sites:

Official Facebook | Official site





Release Date:

7 January 2000 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Las reglas de la vida See more »

Filming Locations:

Vermont, USA See more »


Box Office


$24,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$110,098, 12 December 1999, Limited Release

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital | SDDS | DTS



Aspect Ratio:

2.39 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


The scenes featuring the orphanage were filmed at the Northampton State Hospital, an abandoned mental asylum in Northampton, Massachusetts. See more »


When the orphans watch King Kong, the giant ape peels off Ann Darrow's clothes. That scene was cut shortly after the premiere, and was not publicly available until 1971. See more »


[first lines]
[Opening narration; a couple of snippets of interspersed dialog are omitted]
Dr. Wilbur Larch: In other parts of the world young men leave home and travel far and wide in search of a promising future. Their journeys are often fueled by dreams of triumphing over evil, finding a great love, or the hopes of fortunes easily made. Here in St. Cloud's not even the decision to get off the train is easily made, for it requires an earlier, more difficult decision - add a child to your life, or leave one ...
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My Ideal
Composed by Newell Chase / Leo Robin / Richard A. Whiting
Performed by Margaret Whiting with Billy Butterfield & His Orchestra
Published by Famous Music Corp. (ASCAP)
Courtesy of Capitol Records
Under license from EMI-Capitol Music Special Markets
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User Reviews

Simply sublime, heartfelt, true Americana without all the drippy clichés...
24 June 2012 | by secondtakeSee all my reviews

The Cider House Rules (1999)

Playing with tough themes for the 19th Century (really tough, like many abortions and a father sleeping with his daughter as well as some casual drug use by a country doctor) and couching everything amidst a Maine culture of doing the best thing as much as humanly possible, this movie is a sentimental masterpiece. The sentiment keeps it from being quite unqualified masterpiece, but the naturalism of the three main actors (Michael Caine, Tobey Maguire, and Charlize Theron) makes it rather convincing. And touching.

The writing is also spot on, a bit of magic starting with John Irving's highly regarded novel, and his own screenplay. As the events compound and a tight group of principal characters gets further intertwined, their believability becomes essential as events become more sensational. And it works. It's almost an American fable with moral edges like "To Kill a Mockingbird," tightly knit and with a higher ground charted above the usual trench warfare around the issues, particularly illegal abortions.

The director Lasse Hallstrom is the wild card here, and deserves unusual praise coming almost out of nowhere on this…almost meaning he did have "What's Eating Gilbert Grape" and "My Life as a Dog" behind him. We can only hope this Swedish director crosses the border often, or at least keeps making Swedish films that get distributed here in the U.S. (I have to confess I found his more recent "Shipping News" unbearable but I know a lot of people were really moved by it.)

Beyond the story and the stars, it's really worth saying the there is a cast of secondary characters--nurses at the orphanage and a crew of African-American apple pickers at the orchard--that deserve huge praise. And then there are the smaller characters, literally, the children. Here I give the actors credit but also Hallstrom for getting them to forget the camera and be themselves. I could have watched an extended version of many scenes because being there and having so many interesting convincing people around was enough.

But of course it's better trimmed down and efficient. And hard hitting. You'll cry, or you don't have a pulse. Or you're one of the cynical, which I get. For those who have a softer side for movies, this will win you over and turn your head.

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