Choke makes me want to engage in autoerotic asphyxiation

by Ben

You’d think a flick about a sex addict would be a fantastic concept. In that same vein of thought, it would be a safe bet to assume that same idea -if it were scribed by Fight Club‘s creator Chuck Palahniuk- would be a low-budget art film match made in cinematic heaven. If you’re like me with those conjectures, you’d be wrong. Choke is nothing short of a lifeless husk; a parody of what could have been.

It’s not to say a better lead actor couldn’t have pulled it off. Sam Rockwell bears an uncanny resemblance to a specific unfunny “comedian” whose name is eerily similar to “Blavid Slade,” and any precedence Rockwell might have set with his one-liner dick jokes is immediately voided. It’s like having the initial rush of a stripper jumping out of a gigantic cake blasted by the realization her face is covered in herpes. Normally I could ignore his disgusting hair, ridiculously-classless goatee/’stache, and general lack of emotion as part of the character. Here, it simply comes across as cheap.

Choke might also have been saved were its leading ladies something to look at -it being a film about sex addiction and all. Well, that would be problematic since Anjelica Huston hasn’t been attractive since 1874 and her attempts at pulling off a 40-something mother during flashback sequences is less painful than watching Kim Kardashian’s sex tape only to realize she has an innie (and I’m not talking about her navel). Kelly Macdonald likewise fails the sexiness poll in more ways than one, the least of which certainly is not her refusal to show some nipple. Sigh.

In the end I’d forgive all of those shortcomings if Choke wasn’t so goddamn irritating about its insistence to veer course and leave its titillating premise behind in favor of cliched drama. It’s a shame that 94% of all indie/art films have such a great initial concept then detonate it halfway through via melodramatic holocaust; otherwise, studio pictures would really have some competition from filmgoers. For example, I was drawn in by Choke‘s claim to be about “sex addict Victor Mancini” who is “trying to hook up with everything on two legs” and who “courts the love and money of complete strangers via a demented con that might just kill him.” (And I quoth from the DVD cover!) Unfortunately, the “demented con” which is the film’s namesake is only featured about three times -all of which are less exciting than 1 Night in Paris.

Even worse, the first segments of Choke demonstrate some ability for novelty; for example, overly-horny grandmas and/or splicing boobie-shots on top of passing women and/or Rockwell’s best friend, the chronic masturbator. But it all collapses as flashbacks tell of a troubled mother-son, the lack of a father, and the young lying woman who -through her deception- forces love and allows the reconciliation of the mother and offspring. Whoop-de-shit. Cry a fucking river on Oprah and stop PMSing all over my sex addiction.

So yeah, Choke isn’t very good. Unless you like Barbara Walters or the Hallmark Channel, in which case you might as well start life as a eunuch.

Conclusion: Crack an egg, butter a slice of bread, mix the two in a silver bowl, and shove the concoction into your anus