|Directed by: Lasse Hallström
Written by: John Irving
Produced by: Richard N. Gladstein, Bob Weinstein, Harvey Weinstein
Production year: 1998
Original release: December 17, 1999
Running time: 2 hours, 10 minutes
Other cast: Tobey Maguire, Charlize Theron, Michael Caine
Misc: IMDB | Amazon | iTunes
The film follows the life of Homer Wells (Tobey Maguire), a precocious orphan who leaves his lifelong home and his loving tutor, Dr. Larch (Michael Caine) to explore the world. While Homer struggles to make a life for himself on his own, he must make monumental decisions that will change the course of his future and deeply affect the lives of those around him.
Paul Rudd plays Lieutenant Wally Worthington, a volunteer pilot in the army, who briefly returns to his home in Maine while on leave.
Wally’s family owns an apple orchard and work in the apple business, which Wally finds boring. After his father’s death, his mother was made in charge of the business. However, Wally returns home to help make sure operations run smoothly. He hires Homer Wells as an “overqualified” apple picker.
Wally has a girlfriend named Candy Kendall, who helps out at the Worthington apple orchard. Candy becomes pregnant and the two go to the orphanage for an abortion, as the time for a baby was not right. Wally and Candy have been together for most of her adult life, but when Wally is called back to war, a lonely Candy cheats on him with Homer.
While in war, the plane flown by Wally is shot down over Burma and, though he is not injured from the crash, nor captured by the enemy, Wally encounters mosquitoes and is infected with encephalitis “B.” The disease paralyzes Wally from the waist down, which means he is no longer able to walk.
Homer Wells: What kind of planes do you fly in?
Wally Worthington: A B-24 Liberator.
Homer Wells: Oh. Liberator.
Wally Worthington: You enlisted?
Homer Wells: They wouldn’t take me. I’m Class 4. I have a heart defect.
Wally Worthington: Yeah? Is it serious?
Homer Wells: No. No, it’s not serious. I’m just not supposed to get excited. You know, no strain, no stress. I try to keep calm all the time.
Wally Worthington: I can’t imagine there’s any strain or stress around here.
Homer Wells: (Chuckles.) Yeah.
Wally Worthington: Actually, the army’s given me leave twice. First, when my father died. And now I’m on leave to help my mom with the harvest. She’s no farmer. Apples were my dad’s business, but with the war on, she’s short of pickers.
Candy Kendall: Wally thinks apples are boring.
Wally Worthington: I never said they were boring.
Candy Kendall: Yes, you did. You said apples weren’t exactly flying.
Wally Worthington: They aren’t.
Wally Worthington: Hoo! Remember this. In the morning when the grass is wet, you can make it slide. Feel it?
Homer Wells: Yeah.
Wally Worthington: It’s almost like flying. Watch out for the trees. Trees are flak, antiaircraft fire from the geeks on the ground.
Wally Worthington: I was just showing Homer the orchard. Kind of a geography lesson.
Candy Kendall: Really?
Wally Worthington: Yeah.
Candy Kendall: What’s that?
Wally Worthington: What?
Candy Kendall: (Pulls out branch from vehicle.) This, right here. Looks like you’ve been giving him flying lessons.
Wally Worthington: Ah, he loved it. Didn’t you?
Candy Kendall: Wally here thinks people like being whacked by branches.
Homer Wells: Oh, I liked it.
Candy Kendall: Really?
Homer Wells: Yeah!
Candy Kendall: (To Wally) You’re unbelievable.
Wally Worthington: Well, thank you very much.
Homer Wells: Uh, look, Wally, thanks. I’m lucky I met you.
Wally Worthington: I’m the lucky one.
Homer Wells: No, really, I’m lucky.
Wally Worthington: Hey, look, do you wanna fight about it?
Homer Wells: …
Wally Worthington: Kidding.
Homer Wells: Oh, okay.
Major Winslow: He was over Burma when he was shot down. There were no injuries from the crash, just disease. When the plane was hit, the crew chief and the radioman jumped close together. The co-pilot jumped third, all on Captain Worthington’s orders. The captain was still flying the plane. None of the men on the ground could see the sky. That’s how thick the jungle was. They never saw the plane crash. They never heard it crash. They never saw Captain Worthington’s parachute either.
Olive Worthington: But he was missing for 20 days. Why?
Major Winslow: He followed the Irrawaddy River all the way to Rangoon. He managed to avoid the Japs, but not the mosquitoes.
Olive Worthington: So it’s malaria.
Major Winslow: It’s, um, encephalitis “B.”
Olive Worthington: What’s that?
Major Winslow: Captain Worthington is paralyzed from the waist down. He– He won’t walk. I’m sorry.
- The author of The Cider House Rules, John Irving, originally wanted his son, Colin Irving, to play Wally, but development for the film took over a decade, and by the time filming took place, Colin was too old for the part.
- Rudd and his co-star, Tobey Maguire, would both later in their careers portray Nick Carraway in different film adaptions of the F. Scott Fitzgerald novel The Great Gatsby, Rudd in 2000 and Maguire in 2013.
- Rudd and Maguire would also both later in their careers portray Marvel superheroes named after arthropods (ant and spider, respectively). Maguire played Spider-Man in 2002-2007 and Rudd’s run as Ant-Man began in 2015.