Fight Club (1999)
Starring: Brad Pitt, Edward Norton, Helena Bonham Carter, Meatloaf
Directed by: David Fincher
Tag line: How much can you know about yourself if you've never been in a fight?
Running time: 139 Minutes
#14 on IMDB 250, nominated for an Oscar (Best Effects, lost to The Matrix)
Quick summary: A ticking-time-bomb insomniac and a slippery soap salesman channel primal male aggression into a shocking new form of therapy. Their concept catches on, with underground "fight clubs" forming in every town, until an eccentric gets in the way and ignites an out-of-control spiral toward oblivion.
I saw the movie before I read the book, I know that’s a cardinal sin, but I hadn’t yet discovered what kinds of books and authors I enjoyed. It was after watching Fight Club that I became interested in Chuck Palahniuk. I’ve since read all of his books, and Fight Club isn’t even the best one (that would be Survivor). The book is better than the movie, but that’s not a knock against the movie. Most people say that the book is always better than the movie, and they usually mean that the movie doesn’t do the book justice. That’s not the case with Fight Club, the book is just better.
But with no prior knowledge of the book, I went in to the movie with a blank slate. Which I think is a great way to go into a movie, especially one based on a source material. You don’t have any preconceived notions, and you can’t be let down if it doesn’t match the ridiculously high standards we all set for the books we read. If you read the book first, then there is no element of surprise to Fight Club, while it’s still cool to see movies based on books you’ve read, it’s not new.
Brad Pitt’s Tyler Durden is one of the coolest characters in modern cinema. He was everything he was supposed to be. I don’t think another actor could have pulled it off. In fact, I don’t think another actor could have pulled off Edward Norton’s role either. They were pretty much perfect for this movie. Helena Bonham-Carter is the right kind of crazy for the role of Marla Singer. She’s weird to begin with, and I think she was just being herself, but with an American accent. But she was great. The rest of the cast was good too, I especially enjoyed that Meatloaf was in it. His songs are one of my guilty pleasures (namely
Paradise by the Dashboard Light, I would do anything for love, and Bat out of Hell), and it was great to see him acting.
I am glad I had not read the book before watching the movie, because otherwise, I would not have been as in awe at the end. I would have already known, and that would have hurt it for me.
But since Fight Club, I am cautiously optimistic about any of Chuck Palahniuk’s books being turned into movies. I want them to be made into movies, because I think they would be great, but I don’t want them to be made into bad movies. Choke, Palahniuk’s other book turned movie, was ok. It wasn’t nearly as good of a movie as Fight Club, but it could have been worse, way worse. If they keep making them, I’ll keep seeing them, but they’ll all be judged (unfairly) against Fight Club.