What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this movie is wayyyy cool in terms of style and flip cynicism, and it's also wayyyy lurid, twisted, and violent. Older teens can hopefully take the over-the-top, R-rated cult hit as a dark-humored novelty act. It derives from a novel by trendy author Chuck Palahniuk. You wouldn't want kids to use either as a blueprint for behavior, which includes hazing-style beatings, vandalism, and bombings.
What's the story?
Ed Norton's central character is nameless (Closed-Captioning and DVD menus call him either Jack or Rupert), a bored office worker suffering from alienation-induced insomnia. He can only sleep after attending anonymous support groups for alcoholics and cancer victims, although he is neither. That option disappears when he finds a hostile woman, Marla (Helena Bonham-Carter) doing the same thing, for kicks and free food. He meets a charismatic soap salesman and part-time movie projectionist named Tyler Durden (Brad Pitt), with more extreme coping solutions for modern life. The duo form a "fight club," beating each other for the primal thrill. The notion attracts other bored young men, and soon a number of secret Fight Clubs pummel themselves throughout the city. For Tyler, though, it's only the beginning of something he calls "Project Mayhem," orchestrated sabotage to overthrow the consumerist society. He's already been conducting his campaign on a small scale by splicing subliminal frames of pornography into family movies. Now, using Fight Club as an underground army, he spearheads bombings and monkey-wrenchings against The System. Rupert (or Jack, or whoever) watches Tyler's progress with alarm, as his own condo explodes and police link him to the attacks. Worse, Marla resurfaces, and a dangerous love triangle forms between her, the Ed Norton character, and Tyler. We already know from the film's dynamic opening that Tyler will end up holding a gun on his former friend, and the storyline is a flashback. Not necessarily a reliable flashback, though, and FIGHT CLUB has a celebrated Sixth Sense-style plot surprise that demands the viewer rethink all that's come before.
Is it any good?
Even without the whiplash revelation, the film is a wild ride. Among its many inside jokes and eccentricities, the filmmakers, in imitation of Tyler, stuck single-frame subliminal nude photos into the feature. Not-so-subliminal are incidents of extreme violence, as Fight Club members hold nothing back (and wear no boxing gloves), and a sex scene with Marla that's no less intense for being mostly CGI.
FIGHT CLUB derives from a novel by trendy author Chuck Palahniuk, whose book actually has a stranger, more downbeat ending than the movie. You wouldn't want kids to use either as a blueprint for behavior (at least the filmmakers made certain that the bomb-making recipes in the script are ineffective). Unlike BRAZIL, another striking cult picture that advocates terrorism against dehumanizing forces, FIGHT CLUB at least claims to take place in the real world. We can only recommend it for older teenagers who recognize it as more of a punk satire than a real call to arms.
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about the cynicism and anarchy shown here. What pushes the main characters to behave that way? Why do the narrator and Marla have a fascination with self-help groups? How are the extremely flawed characters here somehow likeable?
|Theatrical release date:||October 15, 1999|
|DVD release date:||March 7, 2000|
|Cast:||Brad Pitt, Edward Norton, Helena Bonham Carter|
|Run time:||139 minutes|
|MPAA explanation:||disturbing and graphic depiction of violent anti-social behavior, sexuality and language.|