Friday, March 27, 2009


Choke (Clark Gregg, 2008)

Sam Rockwell stars as Victor Mancini, a sex-addicted con man who spends his days toiling at 1700s-style town with his buddy Denny (Brad William Henke). You'll never think of Greenfield Village the same way again to see the petty infighting and sexual trysts that go on while the tourists think they're in a quaint historical setting. At night Victor spices up his fine dining with a choking act that usually pays for his dinner and for his Mom's exorbitant nursing home bills. The audience gets to experience several extended flashbacks making them privy to Victor's screwed up childhood. Meanwhile, Victor courts a doctor at the nursing home (Kelly Macdonald giving a stilted performance). Yeah, there's a lot of stuff going on in this movie. Like the film's title, there's really too much here to swallow.

This being the second film adapted from a Chuck Palahniuk novel, the comparisons to Fight Club have to be made. Both stories have protagonists plumbing their own depths via self-help groups and feature a big M. Night Shyamalan twist at the end. Unfortunately, Choke is no Fight Club. The latter is a relatively straight-ahead story while the former gets mired in too many "cute" ideas that, while interesting in themselves, don't add up to much. Stick to the book, it's much easier to chew.

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