Fox Searchlight Pictures
Now Showing at: Esquire and AMC Newport Theatres.
Review by: Larry Thomas
Novelist Chuck Pahlaniuk has become a cult favorite among the Gen-Xers, and on college campuses all across the country. Most of this fame is due in no small part to his novel, and subsequent film version, Fight Club. As directed by the talented David Fincher, whose credits include Seven, among others, and starring Brad Pitt and Edward Norton, Fight Club still attracts movie fans whenever it plays at repertory cinemas or on midnight shows.
The newest film fashioned from a Pahlaniuk tome is Choke, and it will likely have none of the attraction or following of Fight Club. As directed by actor Clark Gregg, who also wrote the screenplay, Choke is one of the most repulsive, depressing, and unlikable films in years.
The normally engaging Sam Rockwell, who was so good as Chuck Barris in George Clooney’s film Confessions of a Dangerous Mind, plays a sex-addicted con man. He fakes choking in restaurants in order to get the wealthy patrons to save him, and hopefully give him money. Why? His mother is dying in a mental institution full of older ladies, most of whom have sexual fixations more bizarre than his character. Rockwell’s mother is played by the usually glowing Anjelica Huston, who seems as if she wishes she were in another movie. As do we all.
Rockwell attends group therapy sessions for the sex addicted. Among those in the group is an older man played by Oscar winner Joel Grey. Guess he needed the paycheck. Kelly McDonald, who was so good in No Country for Old Men, and is the one bright spot of this dismal cinematic exercise, plays a doctor in the mother’s hospital.
As an actor, Clark Gregg, who attended Ohio Wesleyan University, has been a running character on TV shows like The New Advantures of Old Christine and The West Wing. On the big screen, he appeared in Iron Man, Spartan, and We Were Soldiers. Choke is his directorial debut. Hopefully, he will not quit his day job.
Three weeks ago, I opined that Bangkok Dangerous was the front-runner for worst film of 2008. That was short-lived, as Choke now takes its place for that dubious honor. Dour, miserable, and unfunny, it is without question the most unpleasant film going experience of 2008, or perhaps of any number of preceding years.
Granted, Pahlaniuk’s material has its following. However it’s not recommended that you follow this revolting film anywhere. Most likely, you’ll have much more fun putting your toes in a meat grinder.
The only word worth describing Choke is…ick!!!
Choke is now showing, for hopefully a mercifully short time, at the Esquire and AMC Newport theatres.