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A depressed man (Edward Norton) suffering from insomnia meets a strange soap salesman named Tyler Durden (Brad Pitt) and soon finds himself living in his squalid house after his perfect apartment is destroyed. The two bored men form an underground club with strict rules and fight other men who are fed up with their mundane lives. Their perfect partnership frays when Marla (Helena Bonham Carter), a fellow support group crasher, attracts Tyler's attention.
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Tyler Durden lets Big Lou punch him repeatedly in the jaw, while laughing maniacally, mocking him and infuriating him. At the end of the scene, Tyler seems to make the point: Real men don't always beat the crap out of other men, Real Men laugh silly at other men who try their best to make them feel pain, but only fail repeatedly. How would you feel if you sucked in all the power you had, landed a blow on a dude, and he laughed in your face as if to say, "That's your best shot?" Not very good, I think.
Tyler Durden [Brad Pitt] is the manifestation of every man's fantasy. Good-looking, brash, arrogant, fights like a tank, takes a beating like a tank, ****s like a machine and doesn't do any REAL work.
The Narrator [Ed Norton] is the manifestation of most modern men's reality. Plain-looking, dead-end job, no stable relationship, a decent collection of lifestyle accessories and sheer boredom.
When the two meet, you might expect the movie takes the usual route where the two men get to learn from each other, and find that each person's life has as many highs as pitfalls, and that your life is what you make of it. Err...no. Tyler is an enigma. A revolutionary of sorts. Hell, he isn't here to "learn" about the Narrator. He's here to "Jack" his life!!! Tyler Durden is a bigger, larger-than-life figure than James Bond, the Terminator or even Neo. He could easily steal any one of Bond's potential bed-mates from right under his nose. He could easily program the Terminator to believe its existence was useless and that it should self-terminate. He might even make Neo give-up and dump the whole "Because I choose to.." talk.
This movie may not "change" your life, but it will affect it. You will develop a liking for red leather. You will start working on a new walk. You will start sizing people up everywhere you go. You will stop caring about the fact that you're a 6-foot 120-lbs weakling with 13" biceps. You will start to think, "I'm sure I could throw ONE good dislocating punch at a 220lbs biker even after I take 4 punches to my face". You will want to be in better shape. You will cringe at the idea of a woman having any kind of control over your life. You will want to learn the art of dead-pan sarcasm that scares your boss out of his/her wits. Watch this movie, and you will wish that someday, people will ask, "Say, Who is (insert your name)?"
One of the better "mainstream" movies to have come out of Hollywood in recent years. Unless you exclusively like movies with a "Made for Oscars" plot [Disabled dude learns to appreciate life, WWII/Vietnam Veteran learn the value of human life,Gay Dude stands up against the system, etc.], you will have a hard time wondering why this movie didn't win a few dozen awards. In Tyler, You Can Trust.
You can't help despising every one of the characters. Ed Norton plays a weak, neurotic nonentity. Helena Bonham Carter plays a thoroughly unpleasant lowlife -- the sort of woman who wouldn't care if she were wearing underwear even if she were hit by the proverbial bus (which, by the time she'd been in the movie ten minutes, I was devoutly hoping for). Brad Pitt (whose character "Tyler" inspired similar bus longings) plays an insufferable overaged brat. He's a smug, know-it-all windbag who spouts preachy anti-materialistic rants -- while wearing expensive trendy clothes -- but in garish colors, so we know that he's a "nonconformist". Luckily for Tyler, his physical attractiveness lends a specious credibility to his lectures, because their content was simplistic and hackneyed -- we've all heard it many times before, done better. If they'd cast, say, Dennis Franz in that part, the tirades would have had the underwhelming effect that they actually merited.
The movie begins with the content and theme of a fair-to-middling "Dilbert" comic strip -- suburban white guys whining about how they can no longer assume as a given a life of effortless wealth, privilege, and power. Their jobs are dull and don't offer intellectual challenge, spiritual fulfillment, or satisfaction. In other words, because of evil corporations... or having been raised by single mothers... (or something)... they've been cheated out of what they'd considered their rightful due, and are now stuck with the same problems that everyone thinks normal when faced by women, African-Americans, and the working class.
For some reason -- possibly because the filmmakers quite correctly surmised that a movie consisting entirely of anti-corporate sermons wouldn't sell very many tickets -- Tyler's solution is to reclaim their masculinity... or overthrow the corporate hierarchy... (or something)... by picking fistfights and blowing stuff up. This becomes popular with other suburban white guys with way too much time on their hands, who decide that they're all victims, too, and that they all want to pick fights and blow stuff up, too.
This spirals out of control, Sorcerer's-Apprentice-like, and (d)evolves into a dystopian cult/army of suburban white guys; complete with rules, chants, and rituals (see what I mean about these people having way too much time on their hands?); every bit as dehumanizing as their jobs. The members of "Fight Club" start as sheep-like drones mindlessly obeying corporate bosses, and end as sheep-like drones mindlessly obeying rabid-dog sociopath Tyler. The movie has the nerve to try to pass this off as rebellion... or asserting their individuality... (or something).
Granted, the movie is well made, well acted, and visually interesting. Granted, it makes points -- about the amorality of megacorporations and the inadequacy of consumer capitalism as a substitute for independence, worthwhile work, and fulfillment -- which are valid, and might even have been thought-provoking, had they not been delivered in such a God-awful heavy-handed fashion. Anyone intelligent enough to contemplate such issues doesn't need them pounded home with a sledgehammer.
But a competent presentation of a ridiculous, muddled premise ("Single mothers"? Who is this -- Dan Quayle?) is worse than an incompetent one, because it's harder to dismiss. The filmmakers attempt to disguise/justify/redeem the movie's hateful, no-win false dichotomy (one can escape being a victim only by victimizing others) with trite thematic content (materialism bad), but all that does is make it prissy and hypocritical as well as thuggish -- like putting a doily over a Sherman tank.
The movie has no African-American, Hispanic, or blue-collar characters, although those groups face at least as many difficulties and injustices as the middle-class office workers depicted. The lone woman character is physically and personally repellent -- worse, her only purpose is as a spittoon for the men. So if I understand correctly: The movie has no blacks, no Hispanics, no working-class people, only one woman (who's a caricature, and loathsome as well), and crypto-Nazis (Tyler actually confesses he renders soap from human flesh -- but it comes from fat people, so that's supposed to be hilarious and cool -- apparently he's not quite subversive enough to deconstruct mainstream esthetics), setting bombs and beating people up as a solution to depersonalization... but it *does* rag on Ikea. REAL progressive!
Get a clue, fellas. If your self-worth and autonomy depend on a "masculinity" defined as brutality, a dull job is the least of your problems. It's supposed to be shocking news that jobs are unrewarding sometimes? Companies are in business to make money -- period -- and *nobody's* life is fun every minute of every day. Imbuing your life with meaning is *your* responsibility, not your employer's. If you're bored or unfulfilled -- paint a picture, climb a mountain, volunteer at the homeless shelter -- do whatever matters to *you*. If you hate Ikea -- don't buy their stuff. If you hate consumerism -- throw your cellphone in the trash and wear your 1980s-vintage stonewashed jeans until they fall apart. Or wouldn't that be trendy enough?
Testosterone run amuck and mindless nihilism have cathartic appeal to angry, frustrated adolescent boys of all ages, but they don't make for a good story, nor interesting filmmaking. Despite pretending to be a Deep Meaningful Parable... (or something), "Fight Club" is still very obviously a movie about picking fistfights and blowing stuff up, and not much more. Presenting bombings and beatings as self-empowerment is reprehensible enough without also insulting the viewer's intelligence with a smokescreen of "moral" posturing -- to say nothing of the infuriatingly condescending assumption that those who disagree "just don't get it".
Even Brad Pitt with his shirt off can't make this movie watchable -- and I am a person who likes looking at Brad Pitt with his shirt off. Unless you prefer your dimwitted violence with a side order of sanctimonious rhetoric, skip this movie and watch "Beavis and Butthead" -- at least they're funny.
First movie that I can honestly say I wish there were a no star option here.
Do you do things as part of your job that are probably wrong? Do you feel powerless, controled by 'the man'?
Well forget about solving your problems, why not just beat other people up who are in similar plights? As a hobby!!
When this movie became a cult classic, every old railroad tyrant from the gilded age probably rolled over in there grave and said "Dang! Why didn't I think of that?"
And of course, after the making of this movie, some people even started thier own little imitation fight clubs. Talk about dumbing us down.
And it was supposedly disturbing to some people how the tower explosion scene resembled 9-11. Well of course. That's the real outcome of a sadist fantasy.