Thursday, September 25, 2008

Choke review

My review appears in this week's WE.

By Andrea Warner
Two stars

The beauty of a book by Chuck Palahniuk is his merciless abuse of language and playfully bittersweet story arcs, combined with his curious ability to induce WTF moments every few pages. This all gets lost in Choke’s shuffle to the big screen.

Triple threat Clark Gregg, who directs, acts in, and wrote the screenplay, obviously didn’t know what he really wanted to do with the difficult source material. The film zigzags crazily, irrationally, and swoops unevenly between the bizarre and the sentimental. The result is as believable as cloning a man from Jesus’ foreskin. (Yes. This is actually a part of the film.)

Sam Rockwell stars as Victor Mancini, a sex-addicted con man with underlying Oedipal issues, who struggles to pay his mother’s (the always reliable Angelica Huston) hospital bills. He’s half-heartedly struggling to turn his life around, and thinks the key to his salvation is to find out who his real father is. And, possibly, begin a relationship with his mother’s doctor, Paige Marshall (Kelly Macdonald, who dials up the character’s cute and curiously touching side).

The direction is haphazard at best, and relies too heavily on flashbacks to explain Victor’s present-day issues. The resolution comes fast and furious and the jokes lay limp, both of which are a problem in a comedy that bills itself as being about sex and love. Unfortunately, Choke’s dirty romp is cross pollinated with a movie of the week. Instead of knocking you flat on your back, it barely leaves you winded.

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