Monday, October 20, 2008

Choke (2008, Clark Gregg)

You know, I wouldn’t have thought it possible for a movie in which a guy who ducks out of weekly Sex Addicts Anonymous meetings to nail other group members, makes extra money on the side by pretending to choke on food in restaurants in the hope that the Good Samaritans who save his life will be compelled to help him financially, and is briefly convinced that he’s the half-clone of Jesus Christ due to a genetic experiment involving his mother and the 2000-year-old Holy Foreskin to be so, I dunno, bland. But there it is, probably the least edgy adaptation of a Chuck Palahniuk novel that would have been possible. It could have worked with a ballsier filmmaker at the helm, but while neophyte Gregg is reportedly a big fan of the book, he just doesn’t have a handle on the tone of the film. Because of this, the best he can do is to sustain an Alexander Payne-lite feel of broad yet ironic comedy, largely sketching over the more unpleasant facets of Victor Mancini’s (Sam Rockwell) personality and difficult history with his mother in favor of lampooning easy targets like people who work in colonial re-creation exhibits. Consequently, the movie has the vibe of a failed Alan Ball-scripted pilot for a cable series, rather than a full-fledged movie. The rating below is largely due to Rockwell, who is the perfect Victor for all seasons, not only for this version of the story but also for the inevitably better telling that will play only in the minds of those who read the book.

Rating: 5 out of 10.

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