Reel Society

Reviews for the latest movies in theaters and on DVD.


Review by Paul Edwards

Choke, the new well-acted comedy/drama based on Chuck Palahniuk’s book of the same name hands out plenty of laughs, but muddled storytelling hampers its hopes of being a truly memorable film.

But before we talk about the quality, we must set the stage for this entertaining flick. Sex-addicted Victor Mancini (Sam Rockwell) is a con artist with a very novel approach:  he pretends to choke on his food at various restaurants, so that people will save him, feel sorry for him and give him money, which he uses to pay for his mother’s medical bills. It is Victor’s mother Ida (Anjelica Huston) that begins the conflict by keeping a secret about Victor’s past, but her Alzheimers’ and genuine delusions make his adventure one to be treasured, at least for a little while.  Luckily, he has his best friend (a fellow sex addict Denny (Brad William Henke) and the lovely nurse Paige Marshall (Kelly MacDonald) along for the bumpy ride.

Sam Rockwell brings a character that can be equal parts loved and equal parts hated. He is crazy and awkward at times, and at others he might make you cry.  There are nuanced performances not only by Rockwell but also of the effervescent MacDonald, who did a great job, considering her role. Anyways, where this big bag of emotions misses the boat is that there are numerous times when you wonder how you’re supposed to be feeling  (confusing, I know), while the story gets muddled with strippers, Jesus, and various flashbacks.

Oh god, the flashbacks. If the story had played out in a more linear model, or even with a less random occurrence of said flashbacks, the film might have had a much smoother delivery.   That it chose to present itself this way is my biggest issue with the film:  it’s almost too crazy and bizarre for its own good.  Yes, the flashbacks were probably in the book, as Chuck Palahniuk has been quoted as saying that this movie “did its job,” but it didn’t really have a flow or rhythm to it; it just… happened.

On the positive side, there are some absolutely sidesplitting scenes in Choke; there are others that’ll have you scratching your head and then laughing again. All in all, I found this movie pretty entertaining but somewhat forgettable.

3 / 5 stars

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