review for The Cider House Rules on AllMovie

The Cider House Rules (1999)
by Jason Clark review

A streamlined version of John Irving's much-treasured novel -- adapted by the author himself -- this middling effort from director Lasse Hallstrom fails to reach the emotional heights of its source material, and instead uses entirely noble intentions to seemingly complement all audiences. In the opening portion, a wan Tobey Maguire exhibits wonderful chemistry with co-star Michael Caine, who is touching as the story's "good doctor." However, the film begins to unravel as Maguire's naive young Homer takes residence in the cider house of the film's title. All of the charm and spiritual ardor drains away as the film explores shaky race and abortion politics, and its eager-to-please demeanor lessens the impact of key events, possibly in an effort to make them palatable to mainstream audiences. Irving and Caine won Oscars for their work. (Caine actually showed up for the ceremony, making up for his rather embarrassing 1987 absence, which was due to his commitment to the making of Jaws the Revenge.)