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Awesome: 21.05%
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Pretty Crappy34.21%
Sucks: 18.42%

3 reviews, 20 user ratings

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Breakfast of Champions
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by Hawkboy

"One of the biggest disappointments in my young life."
2 stars

Let this be a warning to us all: Never can we ever again make a movie version of a Kurt Vonnegut book. I hereby designate his work as "unfilmable". It was a long road travelled: Jerry Lewis laid the groundwork in "Slapstick"; Alan Rudolph cements the reputation with this crap-wad.

I read "Breakfast of Champions" a few years ago in a range rover as we toured across Africa. I read it in an afternoon; it shook me up an awful lot. It wasn't my first experience with Vonnegut; "Slapstick" was my cherry-breaker with him. But this one stuck with me. So when I heard that Bruce Willis was going to make a movie version of the book, I was scared and fascinated. As I followed the progress of the film, I began to feel hopeful; it was being made outside the system, it had a great cast - everything made sense. But dammit, this book was weird and disjointed, even for Vonnegut. How the hell could they make it into a movie? Vonnegut himself said that it was basically him cleansing his soul on his 50th birthday, venting his spleen, dealing with his aging and the death of his sister.

Dwayne Hoover (Brucio) is a famous car salesman who's cracking up. His wife (Barbara Hershey) is addicted to pills and TV. His son Bunny (Lukas Haas) is a lounge singer who wears just a bit too much makeup. His mistress (Glenne Headley) is an airhead. Dwayne puts a gun in his mouth every morning and comes closer and closer to pulling the trigger. Then Kilgore Trout hits town.

Kilgore (Albert Finney) is a science-fiction writer whose work has mostly been published in porno mags. He's invited to town by the local millionaire for an arts festival. He brings along his story, "Now it can be told", which presents the theory that there is only one real person on earth, and that everyone else is a robot, designed by the creator to test his reactions. Dwayne reads this story. It affects him. Badly.

It's a rather thin plot, so the movie moves VERRRRY SLOWWWWLY. I tuned out several times, and I don't think I missed much. Dwayne acted crazy. Kilgore wandered around, talking to himself. Nick Nolte wore a dress. The book reveals the end of the story right at its beginning, almost, so the entire story leads up to that, mentioning the climax several times along the way. It gives the climax, when it finally hits, real resonance, because we're able to finally grasp what Vonnegut was alluding to all through the book. And the ending...ahh....when Kilgore says "Make me young", it really stays with you. But in the movie, it just follows straight through, which is NOT the way to go - it was NOT a linear story, and trying to make it so would not work. And they changed the ending of the book! The ending, which tied every one of Vonnegut's themes together, is changed to some feel-good weirdo crap. The line "Make me young" is still in there, but it's a note of hopefulness, which is the opposite of what it was in the book.

As I said in my review of "The Beach", it's a dangerous proposition going into a movie having read the book. Any changes that the screenplay makes has the opportunity to ruin the movie for a fan of the book. But I don't see anyone who HASN'T read the book knowing what the hell is going on. Characters are introduced from out of nowhere, and we have no clue as to their motivation, their personalities, anything. They're just crazy people acting crazy. So in order to understand the movie, you probably will have had to read the book. And if you've read the book, you'll be shocked at how the book's themes were mangled. I really liked the book, and seeing this movie depressed me. I wish it didn't exist. That's depressing.

I'll give this movie two stars, just because it seems like a genuine effort to turn an unfilmable book into an interesting movie. Points for effort. But all it does is make us realize that JD Salinger had the right idea in keeping his books away from the movies.

I'm telling you, if they turn the phone book into a movie, it'll be more successful than the movie version of "Breakfast of Champions". Especially if they can get Al Pacino as the yellow pages.

link directly to this review at http://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=1562&reviewer=27
originally posted: 03/19/00 03:56:57
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User Comments

12/13/11 avrohom leichtling Excellent film - captures Vonnegut's spirit perfectly - love it! 5 stars
10/18/04 Karen This movie was like a bad drug trip. 1 stars
7/21/04 GP39M I have loved BoC for 25 yrs. I expected to dislike the movie but was joyously surprised. 5 stars
3/07/04 Wytze Very weird movie, don't understand half of it... but interesting.. 5 stars
3/02/04 Warren Betanko The book sucks and by the looks of it, so does the movie 1 stars
12/04/03 Andrew Callaway Offically the greatest book ever. For god's sake - read the book. Skip the movie. 1 stars
12/18/02 conman alan rudolph should be kicked in the nuts, he ruined a great novel 1 stars
10/17/02 Charles Tatum Weird and entertaining 5 stars
2/04/02 Andrew Carden Hilarious Comedy...Very Campy and Likeable Humor. 5 stars
10/13/01 Bevan R. Clark Under rated. Anything with Nick Nolte is better than average. 4 stars
6/03/01 Basil Really weird and good. 5 stars
3/17/01 Mitchell FIelding what's with the standard kiss and make up happy ending - jesus H christ!! 1 stars
1/07/01 zeitgeist pretty damn good, but READ THE BOOK 4 stars
7/06/00 Biff Cool If it weren't based on something maybe... 3 stars
5/21/00 mahone Hollywood + avant garde literature = death 2 stars
10/26/99 pipeman This movie is hideous. If it hadn't been filmed in my hometown, I would have walked out. 1 stars
9/18/99 Mr Showbiz This Vonnetgut adaptation never really gels despite a big name cast. 3 stars
9/17/99 Jeff Michels Vonnegut at his finest 5 stars
9/11/99 Chris Kattan One of the most provocative films ever made -- Bruce Willis is extraordinary! 5 stars
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  17-Sep-1999 (R)
  DVD: 30-Jun-2000



Directed by
  Alan Rudolph

Written by
  Alan Rudolph

  Bruce Willis
  Albert Finney
  Nick Nolte
  Glenne Headly
  Omar Epps
  Will Patton

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