Choke by Clark Gregg (2008)

L: 6/10

M: 5/10

J: 4/10

Analysis from a home run highlight getting screamed at you from fifteen gas station pump TV screens simultaneously at four in the morning:

Treading back into unfavorable memories of a disappointment from nearly fifteen years ago, the film adaptation of Palahniuk’s 2001 novel Choke was up next. Having just read the book, I felt compelled to check out the movie one more time, hopeful that a second watch, many years later, would repair the ill thoughts I experienced after being initially so excited.

Having read the book in high school and the encounter having much to do with my college ambitions, the film’s release hit a perfect period in my life. I was still captivated with thoughts of literary success. The alternate and accurate life direction of blue-collar warehouse work never even seemed possible. I rushed out to theatres to witness this adaptation, hopeful for another Fight Club-esque masterpiece. 

I have to admit that I didn’t hate the film this time around. Having just finished the book would have seemed to damage its already poor reputation even more, but I enjoyed the contrast. Sure, it’s far from perfect and lacks a lot that the book has to offer, but most of the film is a pure translation to film, and sometimes that’s all I want. When the story gets to its conclusion, things go awry, though, as the ending is packaged into something unrecognizable, and it was slightly irritating to have things left the way they were. Especially when I had just read a much better ending days before.

The way the main characters Victor (Sam Rockwell) and Paige’s (Kelly Macdonald) relationship results in is lackluster in both forms, but at least the book adds some layers and leaves the story with an interesting ending. I wanted to see the story in the book unfold for a couple more chapters. The movie, though, I was ready for it to wrap and glad it finished up before completely deteriorating all the goodwill I struggled to hold onto.

Maybe positive memories are likely to crumble more often than bad ones when you can revisit them in books and film. My fondness for the novel and the movie lay closer than they did a decade ago, but I would be foolish to say that the movie is a successful adaptation. 

Analysis from a lone crawfish just bubbling up in the boiling pot completely void of feeling and emotion and ready to be devoured:

I didn’t go into this movie expecting to love it. I think my expectations were met. It was a fine movie. I’ll never feel the need to watch it again. Some things felt a little disconnected where they never really got you invested enough to follow along with their quick story changes. In all, it was a movie that made no impact on me long-term, which is not how I typically view anything Chuck has to do with.
One surprising element that I never expected was I fell completely mad for Denny! Never saw that one coming! In the book, he was a disgusting character with no real saving graces, but in the movie, he is the only one I was rooting for. They either hired the perfect actor or the absolute worst choice possible because he stole the show for me.
Now I didn’t at all love that they took away the most compelling part of Paige Marshall’s storyline where she thinks she’s from the future but then it turns out she’s just freaking crazy, and they meet up later. It honestly felt like lazy scriptwriting to cut that out and replace it with some flowery dialogue. Maybe that’s it though, in a nutshell, this movie felt pretty lazy. I think there was potential to shine, and instead, they were fine with a murky adaptation, and that’s what we got!

Analysis from a forgotten favorite meal:

Because of movies like this, I will almost always insist that it is better to read a book prior to consuming the movie while also holding onto the opinion that you will inevitably be disappointed by a movie if you have read the book. It’s an exhausting contradiction to hold onto, but, alas, here we are.
Despite the many plot points in this storyline, this movie did a pretty ok job of portraying what it could in the short allotted time. Removing the most eccentric part of Paige’s story was a huge letdown, and the addition of the colonial romance interrupted by Victor was strange, but overall it stayed relatively true to the book. There were events in the movie that had so much more depth presented in the book that was barely touched in the movie, and, considering the numerous things going on, that equals a lot of letdowns.
To be real, I don’t know that I am going to love most mediums portraying a man who has a God complex because he believes he was conceived from DNA left on Jesus’ circumcised foreskin. It’s too cringey and difficult to compute. There, I said it.

Clark Gregg

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