The Cider House Rules



Thought-provoking movie for teens and up.
  • Review Date: May 3, 2003
  • Rated: PG-13
  • Genre: Drama
  • Release Year: 1999
  • Running Time: 126 minutes

What parents need to know


Deaths of characters, brief knife fight.


Nudity, sex, and sexual references, including incest.



Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Character abuses drugs, much smoking.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that the movie includes incest, non-explicit scenes of abortions, nudity, drug abuse, and a non-explicit scene of an unmarried couple having sex. There are also some very sad character deaths, including a child.

What's the story?

THE CIDER HOUSE RULES, based on a John Irving novel, won an Oscar for best screenplay. Homer Wells (Tobey Maguire), twice returned by adoptive parents, has become the surrogate son of the head of the orphanage, the benevolent Dr. Larch (Michael Caine). Homer has been trained by Dr. Larch to practice medicine and perform medical procedures, including illegal abortions, which Homer refuses to perform. While Dr. Larch has been grooming Homer to take his place at the orphanage, Homer longs to see the world outside the orphanage. Homer gets a job picking apples, living in barracks with migrant workers led by Mr. Rose (Delroy Lindo). On the wall is a list of rules, but the migrant workers cannot read, and believe that since they did not write the rules, the rules cannot apply to them. They feel the same way about other kinds of rules.

Is it any good?


Rules are the theme of the movie. Many of the characters break rules, from the rules on the wall (against smoking in bed and climbing on the roof) to the laws of the state (abortion, licensing requirements, prohibitions on drug abuse), to rules that most people would consider fundamental principles of morality (prohibitions against dishonesty, betrayal of a friend's trust, incest, and, for many people, abortion). In some cases, viewers will think that breaking the rules was the right thing; in others they will not. Notice that there are rules that characters take seriously, like the rules that Mr. Rose explains to Homer about how to pick apples. One of those rules, is to be careful not to pick an apple bud, because then "you're picking two apples, this year's and next year's," a rule which may have a deeper meaning to Homer given his views on abortion.

And compare the way that Candy lets life make decisions for her with a "wait and see" approach to Homer, who makes decisions based on his values, including the importance of having a purpose. They have very different reasons for getting together -- he loves her, but she "just can't be alone."

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about rules, how they are developed, when, if ever, breaking rules is justified, and, when it is justified, how important it is to be willing to take the consequences. Some characters in the movie seem to let life decide things for them, but others take the situation into their own hands, and it is worth discussing how to know when to act.

Movie details

Theatrical release date:December 10, 1999
DVD release date:August 15, 2000
Cast:Charlize Theron, Michael Caine, Tobey Maguire
Director:Lasse Hallstrom
Run time:126 minutes
MPAA rating:PG-13
MPAA explanation:mature thematic elements, sexuality, nudity, substance abuse and some violence

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Educator and Parent of a 4 and 9 year old Written byconnielove93 July 1, 2010

A wonderful message and story

This oscar winning story tells the tale of a boy who grew up in an orphanage and is looking for a life with more adventure. He descovers that life is hard and comes to realize that he was ment to be a doctor and live a safe life in the orphanage like his surrogate father. A beautifully told story and main theme.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Great messages
Great role models
Teen, 14 years old Written byPoison Ivey October 29, 2009

if you liked Forrest Gump, then I'm sure you'll like this movie

****CONTAINS SPOILERS**** Sorry, Didn't mean to post that first rating =o. Anyways, I'm suprised CSM didn't give this movie more stars, cause I watched it just recently and I really liked it! It was pretty okay, not much innapropriate, until I got to the part with Rose and stuff and I was just like shocked... and it does deal with mature topics such as abortion and incest. Mr. Rose is stabbed and dies from blood loss. I also found that although the african americans in this movie are treated equally, one is also depicted as the bad guy. Homer is a good guy, and so are Candy and Dr. Larch. A character dies of an overdose, but it wasn't intentinal at all. Overall, I think it was a good movie, and I sorta thought it was a little like Forrest Gump, so if you watched Forrest Gump you should defanitly see the cider house rules. I dont know why i waited!
What other families should know
Too much sex
Great messages
Parent of a 17 year old Written byrooster2628 August 22, 2010

Not good for anyone...shocking.

There should never be nudity in film, especially in a PG-13 film. A man's penis was clearly shown and people need to know this before watching...don't watch it.
What other families should know
Too much sex


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