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Choke (2008)

R 89 minutes

Directed by Clark Gregg
Written by Clark Gregg

 · Sam Rockwell
 · Angelica Huston
 · Brad Henke

Review by Reel American Hero (Mike Keskeys)

It's been almost a decade since a Chuck Palahniuk novel was adapted to the screen.  You would imagine with the way that Fight Club got the respect it deserves, and then subsequently too much of it in later years that studios would be punching themselves in the face to get the film rights to his other books.  As we all know if it's not an adaptation of something being made in today's Hollywood, it's a remake of something. 

But after 9/11 came and left the adaptation of Survivor out in the wind, no one really wanted to bring Palahniuk's twisted worlds to life.  That is until just a year or two back when Clark Gregg (Iron Man) decided to write and direct an adaptation to another novel from Chuck Palahniuk, Choke and bring it to the big screen.




Victor Mancini (Sam Rockwell-Galaxy Quest, Matchstick Men) is a sex addicted, medical school dropout whose mother Ida (Angelica Huston- The Addams Family)  is locked in a mental hospital.  He has a best friend Denny (Brad William Henke-Dexter) who is a recovering chronic masturbator.  Victor and Denny work as colonial re-enactors in a local historical village park.   Victor gets by mostly by scamming people into saving his life after choking in restaurants and they feel so grateful at the chance to be a hero that they send him checks in the mail. 

All is well in Victor's shallow little world until he meets his mother's new doctor, Paige Marshall (Kelly Macdonald-No Country For Old Men), and discovers that he may have feelings after all, and he also may be a clone of Jesus.  

  That's basically the entire set up for the movie, which is adapted nearly perfectly faithfully by Clark Gregg, and I thoroughly enjoyed this film.  My only real complaint was the changing to the ending, which I enjoyed a bit more in the book and certain parts of the movie feel rushed or out of place, but for the most part the script and the film work. 

Sam Rockwell brought Victor to life as only he could, doing another great performance of a sleazeball character that you just can't help but like despite him trying his hardest to make you not.


 I also really enjoyed Brad Henke's performance as Denny.  Henke's never gotten too much work before this movie, at the most a few episode stint on a tv show here and there, but he had what could have been just the comical sidekick, but he gave the role the depth that was needed to make the character fully fleshed out when there's not really a lot to the character to begin with.    

 And lastly I just have to say it was a minor treat for me that Bijou Phillips was in the movie in a small role as Urusula the milk maid, she's one of my favorite small actor/singers, and it's always good to see her show up in a movie.

The cinematography of Tim Orr (Pineapple Express), and the editing of Joe Klotz make the movie as visually exciting to watch as well, I loved the quick little camera tricks used mostly in the begininning of the film showing the women Victor looks at in various states of undress briefly to demonstrate just how bad his sexual addiction really is.   The soft touches to the film during the flashbacks also highlighted the scene for me as well.





 I remember I wrote in a review on more than one occasion on how the characters in whatever movie I was reviewing were just so unlikeable that they deserved whatever misfortune besets them in their particular movie.  Not the case with this movie, which features some people with very major and obvious flaws, and are not good people for the most part, but you still like the characters nonetheless,  which is the secret to writing a film about unsavory characters, you have to give something to them that makes them likeable, and it works with this movie. 


 I've heard a lot of bad things about the movie, but as far as I can tell it was just negative in comparison to Fight Club, which is on par with comparing Panic Room to Fight Club as they were both made by the same director.  And yes, this movie, and even in the book it's not as good as Fight Club is, but it's still a good story



 If you enjoyed the novel, and quite possibly could be surprised that they even made this into a movie, then you'll enjoy it.  Don't go over thinking anything in this story, whether it's book or movie form, and you won't be disappointed.  It's just a good story, with some likeable characters, and the occasional bit of nudity thrown in, and isn't that what really we'd all like to see in almost every movie that we see?   Till next time, be sure to 'Keep it Reel'.

831 Words Published: 23 July 2009

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