Office Christmas Party
Another reminder that allowing your cast to madly improvise instead of actually providing a coherent script with a scintilla of inherent logic often leads to…
"The Cider House Rules" tells the story of an orphan who is adopted by his own orphanage and reared by the doctor in charge--who sees him as a successor. At one point he runs away to pick apples and fall in love, but his fate awaits him and has been sealed at his birth.
At least, I think that's what the story is about. Other critics have zeroed in on the movie's treatment of abortion. Dr. Larch (Michael Caine), in charge of the orphanage, will provide abortions without question because, in the 1930s and 1940s, he wants to save young women from the coat-hook artists of the back alleys. He has taught Homer (Tobey Maguire), his protege, everything he knows about medicine, but Homer is opposed to abortion.
This results in a "controversial pro-choice stance on abortion" (David Rooney, Variety), or "it makes men the arbiters of what happens to a woman's body" (Amy Taubin, Village Voice). James Berardinelli, a leading Web critic, thinks it provides a "reasonably balanced perspective" on the debate, but Peter Brunette, another leading Web critic, doesn't even mention Homer's doubts. Nor does the New York Times.
If I had to choose, I'd vote with Taubin, who notes that Dr. Larch will perform an abortion on request, but Homer believes it is justified only in cases of rape or incest (not unknown in this movie). A larger question remains: Why is there such a muddle about the movie's subject? I left the theater wondering what the movie thought it was about and was unable to say. It's almost deliberately unfocused; it shows us many events without guiding them to add up to anything definite.