In my sophomore year, I attended a screening at the Palace Theater as a part of the Syracuse International Film Festival. The movie screened was Stay (or Sleeping Dogs Lie), written and directed by comedian Bobcat Goldthwait. That particular film is a comedy about a girl coming to grips and being honest with a sexual misdeed from her past. The nature of this misdeed involved fellatio and a dog. At the time, I was sure I had just witnessed the raunchiest set up for an indie, art-house movie I’d ever be likely to see. For a year and a half this held true. This past Saturday, I saw Choke.
I should get it out there right away that I’ve never read the book. In fact, I’ve never read any of Chuck Palahniuk’s books. I can barely spell Chuck Palahniuk. So, if you’re looking for this review to agree with your hipster, well read, “it-didn’t-capture-the-energy of-the-book” opinion, you’re not going to find it.
That being said, I found Choke to be enjoyable. It details the story of a sex addict who cons people into sending him money by intentionally choking on food in restaurants. That’s right, Mr. Goldthwait, scenes in this movie are giving your girl-blows-dog tome a run for its money. The plot and script are well crafted, with enough turns to keep you on your toes. Sam Rockwell and Anjelica Houston provide stellar performances, with a delicious cameo from stage-vet Joel Grey. Unfortunately, Kelly Macdonald, as the love interest, is supremely annoying and couldn’t say a single line with conviction.
As far as themes go, it’s when we look for a meaning, that things get iffy. It’s not that Choke isn’t saying a lot. It definitely is. It won’t let your forget that its trying to say something. The film just has a hard time putting it all together. Be good, but be bad. Learn from your mistakes but don’t completely change your ways. It’s a barrage of mixed signals.
If you’re into twisted, R-rated comedies there’s absolutely no reason you shouldn’t be sitting in a theater, watching Choke right now. If you ever looked at your DVD collection and wondered, “Hey they should really combine 40 Year Old Virgin and Fight Club!” you’ll probably love Choke. Just don’t take a squeamish date. Or your mother.