The Chocolate War - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

The Chocolate War Reviews

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July 2, 2014
I remember really liking this movie when it first came out. The story about non-conformity, power, influence and control still holds up, but I will say there is a level of pretension to the film (obvious symbolism, closeups full of portent, etc.) that bugged me more this viewing that drags it down some. However, I still like this film quite a bit despite it's sometimes annoying self importance. "The Chocolate War" was the directorial debt of actor Keith Gordon, who's best remembered from "Back to School" as Rodney Dangerfield's son and and from "Dressed to Kill" as Angie Dickinson's son. From a Robert Cormier novel, the film tells a story set at a private boys school, where a freshman refuses to participate in the school's annual chocolate sale. Ilan Mitchell-Smith plays the freshman rebel who clashes with the the headmaster, a deliciously pompous John Glover, and a the powerful secret student society run by Wallace Langham and Adam Baldwin. All four leads give excellent performances and it's this aspect that really carries the movie over the rest of the film's self importance. However, writer/director Gordon does do a commendable job, that although quite self serious, there are some very memorable moments that Gorden get's credit for, such as boxing sequence at the end or the build up to when Mitchell-Smith initially declines to participate in the chocolate sale. Gordon went on to write and/or direct some other fine films, including "A Midnight Clear" and "Mother Night", so it's somewhat disappointing he hasn't directed a feature film for so long and seems to instead be focusing on episodic TV. I really like this film and think of it as something of a flawed masterpiece, filled with some very memorable characters and performances. It's also interesting to remember that this was the waining days of the 80s teen comedies, so this film offers a quite different offering to those rather played out films.
½ May 23, 2014
"The Chocolate War is reminiscent of another kind of movie that one wishes could be jump-started again: Angry Young Man films."
October 21, 2012
For an old film the editing skills were quite favourable, but unfortunately people from nowadays won't appreciate it as most others do. The storyline was fair, though some character personalities were a bit off. Archie for example, seemed like he was trying to act 'gay' and Obie seemed a bit too pushed around than in the book. Even though the film stayed somewhat close to the novel at first, it infuriated me when the ending was completely changed! Renault's a hero? Archie finally got beaten? Obie takes over the assingments? What is this!? It was disgusting how they strayed from the book, ridiculing it like a piece of trash. In my opinion, Keith Gordon should be ashamed of ruining such an epic novel with a film that's too-horrible-to-describe. I've studied The Chocolate War and been a loyal fan to it for more than a while, so finally I got the urge to see the movie. If you're looking for an adaptation to the novel, don't watch this film, unless you want to witness yourself the kind of garbage this represents on a book. This will leave you mouth agape wondering, "UGH! What is this crap!?"
½ May 5, 2012
The Chocolate War is very good and entertaining.
Compared to the book, the movie is a little more interesting.
My only complaint is that the ending is very different from the book.
Overall, this is a really good movie.
March 15, 2012
Disappointing surreal film, the director tried a mix of 80's pop and rock tunes and flashbacks but neither work. Tried to be shocking in the way "IF" was in places. Again failed on this point too.
½ February 16, 2012
A forgotten box office bust that was actually good.
February 16, 2012
Considering the review would've liked it more but somehow that didn't happen.Felt it to be quite average and the story just didn't fall in place
February 1, 2012
I've been wanting to see this movie for quite a while, so I'm rather glad I discovered it. I have to say that I feel disappointed in it. I expected it to be much better, and since the topic it deals with is unconformity it really could have gone places.

I loved the story and the concept, and the acting was magnificent (Wallace Langham was by far the best for me here). But it wasn't...INTENSE enough. Brother Leon wasn't mean enough, the ending wasn't shocking enough. It just wasn't enough overall. Memorable and reminiscent of greater cinema times, but it didn't impress me.
October 15, 2011
So underrated it amazes me. A superb adaptation of one of the greatest young adult novels of the last century.
½ September 14, 2011
That Chocolate War surprised me. I was expecting a snoozefest. The only thing about this movie that bothered me was the music. It constantly reminds you that this movie was made in the 80's. 7/10
Super Reviewer
August 12, 2011
I didn't get it. I guess it's one of those "you gotta read the book" things, but I'll pass on the book thanks. It was an okay movie, I guess. All of it kind of just went over my head.
Super Reviewer
March 12, 2011
I loved this surreal teenage drama, it's deep, and Ilan Mitchell-Smith is really cool in it.
November 18, 2010
it a good movie
almost like the book
½ August 25, 2010
Very nice..& Very different Teen movie... loved it...
½ June 10, 2010
Pretty dated, especially with the music that they chose. Not bad though, and deals with some anti-conformity/establishment type points, though not to a great level. Pretty shallow overall I suppose.
½ April 15, 2010
This film is to the word "Box", What Scaface is to the "F" word.
April 8, 2010
It's very disappointing that with such a good story and some decent actors, that the director went ABSOLUTELY INSANE. And whoever was in charge of picking music. The flashback/dream sequences were so badly done and so out of place in the middle of this movie that I started giggling every time it faded into one. It was like one person directed a solid drama and someone else came in and said, "Ya know what this film needs? MONTAGES SET TO RANDOM POP SONGS!" and threw a bunch in there for no reason. That's one flaw, but it was a MAJOR one, and it kept me from being able to enjoy the movie. Thus the low rating.
½ March 21, 2010
This was one of my favorite books in high school. It's an anti-establishment based story. The movie doesn't live up to the book at all, and it feels really dated. The main character is played by Wyatt from Weird Science. The most memorable thing about this movie is the soundtrack, which I really liked.
March 1, 2010
it took a while to get going, but as soon as it got mildly interesting it grew boring again...
January 1, 2010
I guess I don't get this movie because I didn't go to a private school. I guess the chocolate sale is a metaphor of how students will follow the herd if the cool kids get behind it, kinda like school spirit. Anyway, the whole movie seems silly. I mean, what was up with John Glover and his whole character. This Father has issues. Ilan Mitchell-Smith proves why he gave up acting and went to teaching college. As for Wallace Langham, he is about as believable as a villain as Phillip Seymour Hoffman is and what is up with his Flock of Seaguls haircut. There's also a lot of bad 1980's mullets and that god awful new age music from the 80's. This was Keith Gordon's first movie and for someone who has worked for Brian De Palma, it almost seems like a De Palma wannabe movie. I wouldn't recommend this movie to anyone, but it seems like a demo of a greater story. The whole Jenny Wright character seems to have been lost in translation or wound up on the cutting room floor.
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