The Chocolate War

Movie review by
Nell Minow, Common Sense Media
The Chocolate War Movie Poster Image
Fans of the book may enjoy this dark story.
  • R
  • 1988
  • 100 minutes

Parents say

age 15+
Based on 1 review

Kids say

age 17+
Based on 2 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.


Jerry beat up by a gang of smaller kids, boxing match at the end, blackmail, harassment, and other emotional violence.


References to masturbation, (false) accusation of homosexuality used to taunt Jerry.


Very strong language.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Smoking by teens.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that mature teenagers, especially fans of the popular book by Robert Cormier, will appreciate this dark story, a kind of "Dangerous Liaisons" for teenagers. Archie says that "people are two things, greedy and cruel," and devises his plans to take advantage of those qualities.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written bydvdgirl85 October 4, 2015

I really enjoyed the movie

I have purchased the movie and I enjoyed it very much. Ilian was so cute in this movie. an indivual that his character really was. awesome movie. Ilian is so c... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byAimeeF. December 8, 2014

The chocolate war review

If you like movies that hit the exact points that were in the book, then I don't suggest this for you especially if you feel disturbed when the movie doesn... Continue reading
Teen, 16 years old Written byVeronica Andrew December 14, 2011

Preferable... THE BOOK

The Chocolate War is a very interesting book, and so is the movie. Adolescents can relate to this kind of situation-- peer pressure. I prefer the book, it is VE... Continue reading

What's the story?

At Trinity Prep, Archie (Wally Ward) determines the "assignments" to be given to those boys selected for the elite club, the Vigils. Freshman Jerry Renault (Ilan Mitchell-Smith) is selected for an assignment. Intent on becoming headmaster, hardnosed teacher Brother Leon (John Glover) tells Archie that the boys must sell 20,000 boxes of chocolates for their annual fund-raiser, twice the number from previous years, and at twice the price. All of the boys agree, but Jerry refuses because that is his test to get into the Vigils. But even after passing the Vigils' test, he continues to refuse to participate, despite harassment by the other boys. Now, Archie must ensure they meet their sales quota or lose his position within the club.

Is it any good?

Mature teenagers, especially fans of the popular book by Robert Cormier, will appreciate this dark story, a kind of "Dangerous Liaisons" for teenagers. While the story is exaggerated for satiric effect, much of it will seem true to teenagers, who often feel a heightened sense of proportion. The movie shows us some of Jerry's dreams or fantasies, which add to the surreal and claustrophobic feeling of the movie.


The movie provides a good basis for a discussion of the different ways that people get other people to do what they want, the exercise of power, and the ways that power is maintained -- and lost. The interaction between Brother Leon and Archie is especially interesting, because of their uneasy interdependence. As powerful as both of them seem, they ultimately lose their power without much of a struggle.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the tools that Archie uses to maintain and exercise power. What tools does Brother Leon use? How can anyone or any group decide to make something "popular" and "cool" as Archie does with the chocolate sale? Why does Archie tell Janza to "use the queer pitch" on Jerry? Why does the screenplay have Archie holding an impaled butterfly when he talks to Janza on the phone? Why does Jerry tell the girl she was right? What is the significance of the Vigil's marble test for the person who gives the assignments?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love dramas

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