Sunday, September 28, 2008

Jason watches "Choke"

And then watches his beloved Quakes choke against Real Salt Lake.  Does anyone know if there's a movie out called "The Absolute Destruction of the LA Galaxy That Ends With David Beckham and Landon Donovan Crying Like Little Girls"?  Because I'd watch that over and over again.

Anyway, as for this movie, based on a book by Chuck Palahniuk, who's most famous for "Fight Club".  I never read the novel of "Fight Club", but I loved the movie and went out and read a lot of Palahniuk's other works.  Of the novels I've read, I liked "Choke" the most, so I was very excited about this movie.  Plus I'm a fan of Sam Rockwell (check out "Confessions of a Dangerous Mind"), so that's an extra bonus.

And the movie...mostly delivered.  Sam Rockwell is fine as Victor Mancini, a sex-addict who purposely chokes on food at restaurants so that wealthy people can "rescue" him.  Why does he do that?  Because they'll feel responsible for his life, and when he lays a sob-story on them, they'll send money.  He needs that money to pay for his mother's nursing home care.  Thing is, he hates his mother (Anjelica Huston), and doesn't care if she dies, he just wants to find out about his father before she goes.  Oh yeah, and he might just be the second coming of Jesus Christ.

Yeah, that's Palahniuk's sense of humor, and that's the strongest point of the movie--it nails his sense of humor spot on.  But what surprised me is how much humanity and redemption there was in the movie.  Palahniuk's books are nihilist--there is no redemption there.  If anything, they're about how elusive redemption is (what the hell was the ending to "Fight Club" about, anyway?).  When I want Plahniuk's sense of humor but with a dose of humanity and redemption, I'll read some Christopher Moore (and I do, quite often).  

So all in all, I give it a B (which is odd, because I've never given out grades before).  Well done, and I can't fault it for offering hope.  It'd be great for people who've read some Palahniuk but wish he had a little more humanity.  Or for people who haven't read Palahniuk, but have been told they should.  This would be a fine introduction.


Anonymous said...

I agree with you 99%. I only disagree that people should watch the movie as an introduction to Palahniuk. I was also very surprised at the humanity of the movie, though I thought it worked well. And I was pleased at how well they did follow the book. As far as book adaptations go, this was pretty good. But people may be surprised at the difference in tone if they see "Choke" before reading his other works, I think "Fight Club" does a better job of portraying his style. I do love Palahniuk though and also enjoyed myself during the movie.

puppymeat said...

Fair enough. I was trying to think of who the right audience was. I think I'm right about the Palahniuk fans who just wish he had a bit more humanity. I was also thinking of people who have a similar sense of humor--e.g., people who've been told they'd like Palahniuk's work but haven't read anything yet. It'd be a way to ease them in, but they could then be shocked when they read his novels and saw all the nihilism. So maybe it's not a good introduction. But still it was fun.