September 25, 2008


No, it's never too early for Halloween

Grade: C +
Director: Gregg Clark
Sam Rockwell, Anjelica Huston, Kelly Macdonald, Brad William Henke, Bijou Phillips, and Joel Grey
MPAA Rating: R
Running Time: 1 hour, 29 minutes

The emented yet strangely endearing Choke, screenwriter-director Gregg Clark’s adaptation of “Fight Club” author Chuck Palahniuk’s source novel, is the blackest of comedies, cobbling together the “lighter side” of sexual addiction, dementia, religion, and parental abandonment. When not deliberately choking in restaurants in hopes of being saved by wealthy, generous patrons, Victor (Sam Rockwell) sates his sexual cravings with fellow addicts in his weekly support group and the nurses at the assisted living facility housing his ailing, psychotic mother (Anjelica Huston).

Razor-sharp wit and several mordant sequences evoke Palahniuk’s subversive tone, including virtually every scene at Victor’s day-job working at a colonial America theme park and his encounter with a rape-fantasist with a few too many rules. Unfortunately, the production collapses under the weight of its diffuse subplots: Victor’s search for his father’s identity; his “wholesome” dalliance with a hospital doctor (Kelly Macdonald); allusions to Victor’s possible sacred lineage; and poorly conceived flashbacks to his childhood, just to name a few. Clark never establishes a consistent rhythm or cohesive focus for a satire that is ultimately as thematically hollow as its protagonist.

Neil Morris

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