Gagging on Choke

One of Ron's favourite Chuck Palahniuk novels has been turned into a film that is gathering acclaim - so why is Ron worried?

Will Clark Gregg's Choke live up to its growing reputation?

I’m dismayed. I want to be hopeful. I sit at my computer, staring at YouTube clips of the upcoming film adaptation of my favorite Chuck Palahniuk novel EVER, starring the very good Sam Rockwell (he played Chuck Barris in the amazing Confessions of a Dangerous Mind), Kelly Macdonald (who was great in No Country For Old Men) and the legendary Anjelica Huston,; however, the feeling I get off the film isn’t very calming. In fact, it’s downright worrisome. I am very much afraid that my favorite Chuck book will be adapted into an absolutely abysmal movie.

The film isn’t out yet. I understand that some things can be changed between now and the general release. I further understand that the film has absolutely no budget ($3.4 million dollars American). I know it’s not supposed to be Fight Club, should have nothing at all in common with Fight Club, and that the novel is completely different in tone from Fight Club. That’s fine.

The film fans at Sundance loved Choke. Choke was the big hit of South By Southwest. Everywhere Choke goes, it is a critical darling and beloved by those who generally know good movies from bad movies. The early raters on the IMDB have it a solid 7/10.

None of this makes me feel any better.

Ad – content continues below

I hate to compare Choke to Fight Club, as the two are different animals entirely. Fight Club had a ton of star power attached to it, a revolutionary director, and amazing score, and (most importantly) millions of dollars to spend. I guess because Fight Club was such a great adaptation of a great book, and the changes made to the end Fight Club worked so well (better than the book’s ending) that I’m holding Choke to an oddly high standard. That’s totally not fair, but I’m human. After all, Choke was made for spare change, has no real major star power in any major role, and is filmed by an actor turned director and screenwriter rather than David Fincher.

I feel that Choke is better source material than Fight Club. I know that it would never be made by a major studio under any circumstances, even after the success of other raunchy sex comedies not as satirical and black as this one will be. Still, of the four clips I’ve watched, the whole thing feels incredibly dull and slightly wrong.

I hold Choke in such high regard and I want to see it done properly. That’s probably why I’m so worried about the changes that Clark Gregg has made in adapting the source material. He’s said publicly that he’s changed the ending of the script so it is different from the ending of the book. Needless to say, the ending of the book is so deeply moving it brought me to tears the first time I read the novel (yes, I am a big baby and yes, I’ve come to terms with that).

Still, I have to give it a chance. Not because I think it’s going to be good. I don’t; the scenes I’ve seen have looked practically awful and amateurish even when compared to amateur college film class adaptations of Choke. I have to give it a chance just in case it turns out to be better than I expect. But mostly, I have to give it a chance so I can get a big screen version of Invisible Monsters.

Ron Hogan knows what the rules of Fight Club are. Find more by Ron at his blog, Subtle Bluntness, and daily at Shaktronics and PopFi.

Ad – content continues below