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Choke (2008)

tomatometer

54

Average Rating: 5.6/10
Reviews Counted: 138
Fresh: 74 | Rotten: 64

While bolstered by strong performances from Sam Rockwell and Anjelica Huston, Choke struggles to capture the tone of Chuck Palahniuk's novel.

30

Average Rating: 4.9/10
Critic Reviews: 33
Fresh: 10 | Rotten: 23

While bolstered by strong performances from Sam Rockwell and Anjelica Huston, Choke struggles to capture the tone of Chuck Palahniuk's novel.

audience

52

liked it
Average Rating: 3.2/5
User Ratings: 34,751

My Rating

Movie Info

Victor Mancini (Sam Rockwell) has got some problems -- when he's not at Sex Addicts Anonymous meetings hunting for women to bed, he masquerades as a choking victim in restaurants as a scheme to gather money from unsuspecting strangers, which he uses to keep his ailing mother (Anjelica Huston) in a high-end extended-care facility for her extreme dementia. But what happens when this messed up Colonial-era theme-park employee finds Mrs. Right in the guise of his mother's doctor -- and how can he

R,

Drama, Comedy

Clark Gregg

Feb 17, 2009

$2.8M

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September 22, 2008:
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All Critics (143) | Top Critics (34) | Fresh (74) | Rotten (64) | DVD (7)

'Choke' never manages to be as edgy, amusing, insightful or plain messy as you'd hope it would be, especially considering its 'naughty' promotional poster and the distribution of anal beads as a marketing device.

November 21, 2008 Full Review Source: Time Out
Time Out
Top Critic IconTop Critic

I found it choppy, I found it dull, I found it disinteresting.

November 5, 2008 Full Review Source: At the Movies
At the Movies
Top Critic IconTop Critic

This movie is only marginally enjoyable.

November 5, 2008 Full Review Source: At the Movies
At the Movies
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Choke tries to be dirty but manages merely to be dingy.

October 18, 2008 Full Review Source: New York Post
New York Post
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Rockwell has an off-center charm and, as his gorgon mother, Anjelica Huston is more imposing than this movie deserves.

September 29, 2008 Full Review Source: Christian Science Monitor
Christian Science Monitor
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Choke is disappointing not for what it is but what it could have been.

September 26, 2008 Full Review Source: Boston Globe | Comments (2)
Boston Globe
Top Critic IconTop Critic

We'll allow this sad little premature ejaculation of a movie to choke on its own insufficiencies.

August 15, 2011 Full Review Source: East Bay Express
East Bay Express

Choke is an admirably fearless no-net movie, but rather than wowing the crowd below, it lands in the center of the big top with a resounding thud.

September 4, 2009 Full Review Source: Times-Picayune
Times-Picayune

Squandered dime-store philosophy.

June 19, 2009 Full Review Source: Projection Booth | Comments (2)
Projection Booth

Despite the busy plotwork, surprisingly little actually happens.

November 24, 2008 Full Review Source: Eye for Film
Eye for Film

an erotic gospel for the secular age

November 21, 2008
Little White Lies

Uneven and oddly compromised in tone, Choke is a competent enough black comedy, but in the shadow of that other film, it never shines.

November 21, 2008 Full Review Source: Film4
Film4

Choke is a confused sex comedy by Clark Gregg that blunders around for 90-odd minutes trying to look butch and sensitive.

November 21, 2008 Full Review Source: Times [UK]
Times [UK]

For all its flaws and fumbles there is a certain guilty pleasure in Choke.

November 21, 2008 Full Review Source: Guardian
Guardian

This adaptation of a novel by American provocateur Chuck Palahniuk is profane, offensive and obscene, and packed with balefully weak jokes.

November 21, 2008 Full Review Source: Daily Telegraph
Daily Telegraph

Choke was never going to win any prizes for subtlety, but by toning down Palahniuk's nastier absurdities in favour of obvious laughs, Gregg's adaptation is no more provocative than the average Carry On film.

November 21, 2008 Full Review Source: Sky Movies
Sky Movies

But his sterility and romantically curved plot, twisted as it might be, feel respectively reductive and pat next to Palahniuk's fast, filthy and scabrous satirical stabs.

November 21, 2008 Full Review Source: Total Film
Total Film

It's hard to know what aspect is the most offensive: the glib, cynical approach to mental illness; the sleazy sexism; the infantile attempts at blasphemy; or Rockwell's smug, boorish performance.

November 21, 2008 Full Review Source: Daily Mail [UK]
Daily Mail [UK]

Palahniuk's novels are so wilfully quirky, so egocentric, so out there, that transferring them to the screen must be like using chopsticks to transport a blancmange across a room.

November 21, 2008 Full Review Source: Daily Mirror [UK]
Daily Mirror [UK]

All this madness provides amusing moments, but the full-throttle absurdities become too difficult to swallow.

November 21, 2008 Full Review Source: Sun Online
Sun Online

The whole movie is dying, actually. But it puts on a brave face and gratefully receives visitors.

November 21, 2008 Full Review Source: Financial Times
Financial Times

An uneven take on Palahniuk's fourth novel, Rockwell and Huston shining brightly enough to eclipse a patchy directorial debut.

November 21, 2008 Full Review Source: Empire Magazine
Empire Magazine

Sharper direction and a less throwaway tone would have allowed it to add up to more.

November 21, 2008 Full Review Source: This is London
This is London

Enjoyable, blackly comic drama with a great script and a terrific central performance by Sam Rockwell.

November 20, 2008 Full Review Source: ViewLondon
ViewLondon

The many opportunities to send up sex and psychiatry are thrown away when the film gets serious about Victor's bond with his mum. We are Freud alive.

November 20, 2008 Full Review Source: Teletext
Teletext

Audience Reviews for Choke

It was okay. Kind of played out like Californication as a movie - similar in theme with the sex addict lead character. I didn't really like him too much, the actor or the character. It was watchable in a dark way, but not something I would like to watch again, and I generally like dark/twisted themes.
The best thing for me was Kelly McDonald. I seem to have caught a few of her movies lately and I've been quite impressed with her. The flashbacks to his childhood with his mum, played by Angelica Huston, were also fun to watch.
April 18, 2013
romy861

Super Reviewer

Felt like a great premise that got "watered down". Like it wanted to be darker, but for whatever reason never quite goes there. Which is sad, because I think it would have been a much better film, if it had.

Great performances from the cast with Anjelica Huston (who I love) really shining.
August 2, 2011
RCCLBC
Robert C

Super Reviewer

the title "choke" refers to a man who makes a living by disguising himself as choking victim. this man happens to be a sex addict. there's no surprise this kind of story is written by chuck palahniuk, who favors to utilize caricatured social outsiders to delineate the conceptualization of his philosophy of life. of course, none of those things he's written should be taken seriously because none of those characters of his are real to the extent that they're devoid of humanity. but who says they aren't fun even it's an apathetic kind of fun? because you cannot relate to any of those palahniuk characters even you ARE really a sex addict with a wacko-mother who steals you from the hospital as an infant then practically spends all her time drifting around the country and doing a series of fun-seeking sabotages. somehow you're soothed by such weird but creative dramatization of his writings while you still remain quite detached.

perhaps the only genuine emotion i feel or personally relate to is the void within those palahniuk characters who would do ANYTHING to invite others' attention and an artificial 10-minutes of love because their lives are so pathetically vacant in a world where they cannot find any substantial empathy. under the facade of those palahniuk characters is an angry teenager who imagines himself as sex-addicts, anarchist, psychopath, any member of those marginalized social groups, trying to barrow some of those real sorrows from the social outsiders to give their wounded sentiments a falsified meaning.

but why?

to give it a rough, dismissive answer would be they're people who are so bored and so spoilt that they need excuses to amuse themselves and live up a little. (quite true, maybe a bit insensitive and judgemental)...the other version of answer would be: his frivolous "style over substance" kind of writing is a substitution of sentimentalism. "fight club" (the book) was released in 1996, right? the nineties, the decade of slackers, who listened to nirvana and pearl jam. i suppose, people who lived through that decade as teenagers or young adults in their early 20s are inclinded to suffer from a mental obstacle which hinder themselves from appropriately expressing a simple sentiment, especially those who've been obssessed with an "it" attitude. it's like when you feel hurt, lonely, devastated, you don't know how to say that word directly, then you seek other ways to express it: smearing your face with bad makeup, dyeing your hair, cutting yourself or imagining yourself doing many of those forbidden crazy things. but all you crave is just love, compassion and any of those common things. the ending of "choke" and "fight club" is just the guy finally finds the woman who loves him and they hold hands together. they don't really give a damn about social stratifications, existentialist search of identity or meaning. what they want is just as mundane as everyone else: love and acceptance, and the release of sentiments. any form of anarchy or revolt is just a camouflage of an individual emotionally crippled from voicing out their sentiments. (simply, because it ain't cool.)

whether it's choke or fight club, chuck palahniuk writes common love stories with lots of imagined twists which have nothing to do with reality but slackers' attention-grappling wish-fulfillments.

(ps) i say i feel it because i could literally do anything to get the attention for those i have personally cared or liked or loved. just like throwing stones randomly into a pond to create some ripples or ANYTHING to repress the hurt of being emotionally abandoned by your friends or once-friends and to escape the feelings that those you still somehow care (not willing to admit it) don't really respond you. i try hard not to do it because...ok, IT AIN'T COOL. (ha, pathetic, i guess..and very emo, just like a needy teenager!)..a confession from a pseudo-slacker in 2010s.
July 28, 2011
dietmountaindew
Veronique Kwak

Super Reviewer

Choke the film is like the book in many ways and not like the book in many ways. First off, It's a great book but not one of Chuck Palahniuk's best. It should in no way be compared to Fight Club as they are both very different films. I thought Sam Rockwell was very well cast as were the rest of the cast for the best part. The book is dark and so is the film but the comedy doesn't quite match the book, inevitably, the set up just isn't there. Still , that all said I though Clark Gregg did a great job in his directional debut, I've never thought much of his acting to be honest so maybe it should be a permanent move he should consider - before he gets totally lost in the Marvel world!
March 28, 2011
SirPant

Super Reviewer

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