Let’s say the least you expect of art is that it shows signs of a coherent designing intelligence, and the least you expect of entertainment is that it doesn’t make you wish you were looking at something else. Now let’s move on to Choke, which is neither, adapted from a Chuck Palahniuk novel by actor Clark Gregg.
There are scenes that seem like vestigial leftovers of some worthless subplot that wasn’t fully chopped in to one of the no-doubt-numerous recuts (some inanity involving building a stone monument in an empty lot). There’s Anjelica Huston unconvincingly made up in both dotage and middle age (only slightly less weird than the “young Estelle Getty” flashbacks in Golden Girls). And did I mention a running anal bead gag? My stars, somebody phone the Catholic League of Decency!
Spent, pigeon-chested Victor (Sam Rockwell) and hulking Denny (Brad William Henke) are a Mutt & Jeff duo of meeting-attending sex-addicts. Victor’s the spokesman of the two, our narrator—where Denny’s merely a big kid without the self control to keep his zipper up, Victor is a self-conscious shit, possessed of an invincible carapace of blithe moral indifference. Their misadventures were clearly imagined as black comedy of the “laughs get stuck in your throat” variety, but the self-satisfaction betrayed at every transgression undermines the entire thing—you might hear the naughty giggles coming from behind the camera if the plucky “mischievous” music wasn’t so prominent in the mix (it will astonish no one that Gregg has a lengthy resume in television comedy). Click here to read Nick Pinkerton’s review of Choke.