By Troy Patterson
Updated September 01, 2000 at 04:00 AM EDT

Panning The End of the Road in 1970, three years before Roe v. Wade, the critic John Simon wrote that the chief difference between John Barth’s book and its screen adaptation was that ”the novel ends with a harrowing abortion scene, while the film is an abortion from start to finish.” can you imagine a mainstream critic delivering so crude a quip nowadays? Me neither.

The Cider House Rules arrived at theaters last winter into a paradoxical culture — both permissively laissez-faire and puritanically PC — and emerged as a pro-choice movie that even a pro-lifer (Sen,. Trent Lott, to name one) could love. Directed by Lasse Hallström and written (from his own novel) by John Irving, it’s charming enough for even a cynic to forgive the preciousness of its cute orphans and glowing orchards and ceaselessly swelling score. As the eccentric New England obstretrician Dr. Larch (Oscar winner Michael Caine) and his protégé Homer Wells (Tobey Maguire) absorb the pains of birth and death, the movie provokes nostalgia for a nonexistent past when morality was simple and life unfolded like a fable. B

The Cider House Rules

  • Movie
  • PG-13
  • 126 minutes
  • Lasse Hallstrom