The Chocolate War (1988)
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- 100 min.
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Early in The Chocolate War, a teacher rather gauchely stages a social experiment in which his classroom becomes, through blind obedience to his authority, Nazi Germany. And that's basically what the film is about. We've all been there, right? High school, I mean, and the selling of chocolate, magazine subscriptions, etc. to pay for SOMEthing the Education Department (or Board, if we're talking private school like in the film) doesn't want to pay for. What if you said no? No, I will not sell this chocolate? I wish I'd had the balls, frankly. I'm no salesman, and I proved it year after year. But in the film, one kid DOES have the balls, and he will suffer for it. Everything in The Chocolate War asks whether we should follow a bad law. There's the head teacher pushing chocolate quotas to the point of corruption. There's the students' secret society and its absurd "assignments". And it culminates in a unique boxing match where our hero (and to be fair, we follow the "villains" more than we do him) has a shot at revenge, one with amazingly cruel and ridiculous rules that highlight how unjust and random rules can seem at that age (existentialism for teens). Do adults understand rules better, or do we just become inured and fall in line? This isn't your normal coming of age story; they push the conformity angle to an absurdist limit. I really like it. And this is a rare '80s movie with a strong soundtrack, smartly going with art pop greats like Kate Bush, Peter Gabriel and Yazoo that have aged better than a lot of era's music.
Too bad that Jenny Wright isn't given more screentime in this - she's a stunner!
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