Fox Searchlight Pictures
In cinemas on 26 September
“Choke,” is, for starters, no “FIGHT CLUB.” Yes, Fox Searchlight with thanks to their marketing tag “From the author of ‘Fight Club'” on the movie poster will bring in more ticket sales than dependence on Chuck Palahniuk’s fanbase alone. But having “Fight Club” in a font identical to the actual movie title, same size and all, will also give raise audience expectations way too high. Or at least mine were too high.
The movie is pretty okay, and I recommend erasing the glory of “Fight Club” from your mind before seeing it if you want to enjoy it. Also maybe the book (apparently several key scenes and killer lines were left on the cutting room floor). And it’s only okay because colonial theme parks are always funny, Sam Rockwell is a fantastic actor, and Anjelica Huston can do no wrong.
“Choke,” adapted from Chuck Palahniuk’s novel of the same name, has a plot only Palahniuk could dream up. The movie revolves around Victor (Rockwell), a thirty something dude who, in order to pay his mother’s (Anjelica Huston) hospital bills, works at a colonial theme park and fakes choking in public so he can collect checks from the people who give him the Heimlich. He’s also a sex addict, a result of big-time mommy issues. He’s a pretty lost, all-around terrible guy, who supposedly only wants to keep his mom alive in order to find out who his real father is. That is until he falls for his mom’s doctor and can’t get it up anymore.
Rockwell carries the movie, able to convince us that despite his oddly poofy-yet-straight hair he can get laid – a lot – but actually does want something more. Ms. Huston’s presence on screen is stunning as usual, but her character lacks meat, her back story is confusing and never quite explained. Kelly McDonald (as Victor’s love interest) is also nonsensical and unconvincing. The scenes at the colonial theme park are comedic, but mostly because you can’t take people dressed in colonial garb seriously – ever. The movie as a whole feels exactly like what it is, a book made into a movie that feels more like a play and is just as riveting as a book on tape. “Fight Club” is a lot to measure up to, I admit, but the measuring stick was everywhere and you can’t help but use it.