MOVIE: Choke (2008)

Hey, guess what!  I saw a movie!  IN A THEATER!

And not only that, it was a sneak preview (Choke opens nationally this Friday)!  If you prick me, do I not ooze cool?  I so do.

This strange and even more strangely-hilarious movie, based on a Chuck Palahniuk (Fight Club) novel by the same name,  is about a guy named Victor (played by the brilliant Sam Rockwell).  By day, Victor wears a fake ponytail and works as a tour guide of sorts at one of those historical reenactment villages they have all over the East Coast (anybody who went to grade/high school in New England is surely extremely familiar with that kind of place — remember those countless field trips to Plimoth Plantation, everyone?).  Nights, he visits his ailing mother (Anjelica Houston) at a local nursing home.  She has pretty bad Alzheimer’s and every time she sees Victor, she thinks he’s someone else from her past — her old lawyer, an old boyfriend, etc.

To help pay for her care, Victor dropped out of medical school and began running a unique scam to try to coerce rich people into giving him money.  He goes into upscale restaurants and intentionally chokes on a piece of food.  Staggering around unable to breathe, he tries to work himself over to where a wealthy-looking person is sitting so that they can rescue him.  In Victor’s experience, once you have saved someone’s life, you feel invested in them in the long-term. So, he endears himself to his rescuers and then later hits them up for money with invented tales of woe (medical bills, dental problems, etc.).

So far, it’s working pretty well.  Except for one thing:  Victor’s life has become completely stagnant.  He’s going nowhere, he’s got no plan, he’s got no aspirations.  His whole life is his mother.

Well, his mother and sex, that is.  You see, Victor is a sex addict.  A sex addict who spends all his Sex Addicts Anonymous meetings banging a fellow “recovering addict” in the back room.  A sex addict stuck on step four of the twelve-steps and going nowhere fast.

When Victor meets his mother’s new doctor (Kelly MacDonald, not disguising her natural Scottish accent very well, if you ask me), though, life begins to change for him.  She’s young, beautiful, smart, and funny, and he immediately finds himself unable to have sex with her — a sure sign he’s actually falling for her.  Things get even more complicated for Victor when his mother lets it slip that she knows a secret about his origin.   He goes digging and soon finds his mother’s old diary in a box of stuff in his closet, but he’s frustrated to find it’s all in Italian — until the new doctor says she can translate.  A few days later, she’s somewhat stunned to tell him that the secrets of his origin aren’t of the standard “I slept with the mailman” sort.  Nooooo.  According to the new doctor’s translation, the diary says Victor is the son of Jesus, born via an implant generated from a piece of the holy foreskin (or perhaps that’s THEE Holy Foreskin).

Wait, stop — I know what you’re thinking.  You’re thinking. . . “WHAT?!”  But though it sounds strange, this movie is actually both extremely hilarious and surprisingly moving as well — frequently being both at the same time, which produces a nice “I don’t know how to feel!” effect for the audience.  An effect that parallels, pretty much, exactly how Victor feels each and every day.

Choke is definitely a story worth checking out in either format — I really liked the book and I really liked the movie too.  Definitely one to put on your list, though don’t go into this thinking it’s going to be ANYTHING like Fight Club or you’ll be sorely disappointed.


[Pre-queue me at Netflix]

Genre:  Comedy, Drama
Cast:  Sam Rockwell, Anjelica Houston, Kelly MacDonald, Brad William Henke, Bijou Phillips, Clark Gregg

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One Response to “MOVIE: Choke (2008)”

  1. eldridgebooks Says:

    Sounds like a good movie… LOL

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