[VIDEO REVIEWS]What Spidey did before the spandex

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[VIDEO REVIEWS]What Spidey did before the spandex

Despite usually being cast in melancholy roles, Tobey Maguire managed to snag the title role in "Spider-Man" over more athletic-looking young actors. Just who is this new web spinner?

With his deadpan expressions and low-key charm, Maguire has played a wide-eyed child in Ang Lee's "The Ice Storm" (1997), a teenager sent back to the 1950s in Gary Ross's "Pleasantville" (1998), an orphan in Lasse Hallstrom's adaptation of John Irving's "The Cider House Rules," and an asocial but brilliant student in Curtis Hanson's "Wonder Boys" (1997). If you check out Maguire's films, expect to see more of the nerdy Peter Parker than the action hero Spider-Man.



THE CIDER HOUSE RULES (1999) -- "Cider House" in Korea

Directed by Hallstrom. Starring Maguire, Charlize Theron, Delroy Lindo, Michael Caine and Paul Rudd.

A simple tale dealing with complicated issues, "The Cider House Rules" focuses on an orphan as he wanders far from home and confronts another world.

Homer Wells (Maguire), who was abandoned at birth, grew up in an orphanage in Maine. Twice he went to foster families, and twice he was returned. So he was raised by the doctor running the facilities, Wilbur Larch (Caine), and became Dr. Larch's protege. As a teenager, he is helping to deliver babies.

Dr. Larch may be a surrogate father to Homer, but he is also the source of some conflict. The doctor performs illegal but safe abortions, which Homer thinks is wrong.

When an unmarried couple -- Wally (Rudd) and Candy (Theron) -- visit the doctor to solve their problem, Homer leaves with them afterward.

Homer finds work at Wally's family farm as an apple picker, living with migrant workers in a cider-making house. One of his housemates is Mr. Rose (Lindo), an apparently good man who hides an awful secret. When Wally goes off to war, Homer falls in love with Candy.

What helps pull the movie together is the relationship between the doctor and Homer. Even when Homer is far away, the relationship colors the film.

The plot does not strictly adhere to Irving's novel, but the screenplay was written by Irving himself.



PLEASANTVILLE (1998)

Directed by Ross. Starring Maguire and Reese Witherspoon.

Ross makes his directorial debut with a comedy about two kids from the 1990s who are sucked into their television set. Siblings David (Maguire) and Jennifer (Witherspoon) end up in their favorite black-and-white sitcom, a 1950s show called "Pleasantville."

The siblings take on the roles played by the TV siblings Bud and Mary Sue Parker, but their real presence starts affecting the landscape of the town and the lives of the people.

As the people in "Pleasantville" start to feel emotions and think for themselves, they become colorized, leading to some amazing scenes. But, eventually, David and Jennifer start questioning the ethics of their influence.

by Joe Yong-hee

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