Day: July 25, 2017

Fight Club: Book Review and Movie Comparison

Author: Chuck Palahniuk
Published: August 16, 1996

Reviewed By: Jessica
Dates Read: July 9-18, 2017
Jessica’s Rating: 4 Stars

Description from Amazon:

The first rule about Fight Club is you don’t talk about Fight Club.

Every weekend, in the basements and parking lots of bars across the country, young men with white collar jobs and failed lives take off their shoes and shirts and fight each other barehanded just as long as they have to. Then they go back to those jobs with blackened eyes and loosened teeth and the sense that they can handle anything. Fight Club is the invention of Tyler Durden, projectionist, waiter, and dark, anarchic genius, and it’s only the beginning of his plans for violent revenge on an empty consumer-culture world.

Jessica’s Review:

Well… I’m breaking the first rule of Fight Club…Oops!!

It’s been many years since I have seen the movie, but I have never read the book. I was looking at my local library for my next audio book to listen to and came across Fight Club. It is a short novel with five discs at 5.5 hours, so I decided to check it out. I wanted to see how similar or different the movie was from the book, so I also decided to watch the movie again, which I will also review here.

Since I have seen the movie, I knew the twist but for me it came a little earlier than I expected.  Knowing this twist, you can see it coming as Chuck Palahniuk gives you those clues from the beginning. It was an “OMG, it’s right there!” feeling for me and I had a different perspective of the novel.

The basic premise is this: Our narrator meets Tyler Durden who comes up with the idea of Fight Club. This is where men come together to fight with certain rules; and if it is your first time at fight club then you WILL fight.  Our narrator also meets a woman named Marla at a testicular cancer support group… Wait… What? A woman is at a testicular cancer support group?  Marla also meets Tyler and in a different sort of way she becomes the center of a ‘triangle’ between her, Tyler, and our narrator.  You can’t say a love triangle as Fight Club is not the sort of novel that would really deal with love.  The fight club begins to gain notoriety and evolves into something more; something very dangerous.

I am not the target demographic for Fight Club.  I would say I am the total opposite of it.  I enjoyed the movie in the past and I wanted to be able to compare the book to the movie. I have never read anything by Chuck Palahniuk before and his writing style takes some getting used to. He repeats sentences a lot throughout the novel.  I personally don’t think I really got used to it; those repeating sentences really stuck out for me.  As the novel progressed and changed its course I found myself losing interest in it and tuning out a few times. I wanted to finish it and I was glad I did.  I really liked the ending of the novel and it is very different from the movie. I prefer the novel ending to the movie ending.  It is left open for a sequel that Chuck Palahniuk finally released on June 28, 2016 in graphic novel format.

The narrator for Fight Club is Jim Colby. For me he was perfect for the narration. He had a snarky, “tell it like it is” attitude to the narration which was perfect for our protagonist.  He did a great job!

Fight Club is very graphic so it will not be a novel for everyone.  By the end of it you will think twice about using soap or eating soup in a restaurant. Also, do projectionists really get that bored, or are they perverted enough to splice risqué images into children’s movies?

In some ways, going into listening to Fight Club I wish I did not know what the twist was as I think my mind would have been blown when that reveal happened. I still enjoyed the novel.

 Fight Club is recommended.

Movie Comparison:

Here is the trailer for Fight Club

I have seen the movie several times, but it has been many years since I have seen it. I did not figure out the ending and my mind was blown by that twist. I borrowed the dvd from my local library to watch after I finished listening to the audiobook. My husband had never seen the movie, but he knew the twist and he was willing to watch it with me.

The book is a short one as the audiobook I listened to was five discs. The movie is not quite 2.5 hours long and it follows the book fairly close….until the ending. I will go into that without spoilers a little later on. If you know the twist, when you go to watch the film again you can see the clues from the beginning just as in the novel.

Our narrator is played by Edward Norton, Tyler Durden is played by Brad Pitt, Marla is played by Helena Bonham Carter. Jared Leto and Meatloaf are also in the film. Meatloaf plays a character named Bob that you can’t help but grow to like.

I must admit the reason I have watched the movie is Brad Pitt. He’s in his prime and is just really pretty to look at even though he plays a complete psychopath. Brad Pitt plays this character perfectly and he improves the Tyler Durden character from the book as he is much more charismatic. As we were watching my husband said, “This is the same character as his 12 Monkeys character!” And yes, thinking about it Tyler Durden and Jeffrey Goines are very similar characters: complete psychopaths with compatible goals.

The anti-consumerism is really built up in the film version of Fight Club. One of my favorite quotes comes from Tyler Durden: “The things you own end up owning you”. This is so true for so many people out there.

One negative in the film is that Marla is really an enigma. We learn about her character in the novel. I do see why it was cut out as there was not really room for her background. It doesn’t take away from the film. Helena Bonham Carter did a very good job portraying Marla. And once you know the twist when you go to watch the movie, you see her in a different way. The way they acquire soap ingredients differs from the book and this was because they took out so much of Marla’s character. I did actually prefer the film version of how they acquire those ingredients as it fits more with the anti-consumerism.

The Ending (spoiler-free):

I never had an issue with the film’s ending until I listened to the audiobook. And once I did my thoughts were, “Why did they go and do that!?!” It was as if the filmmakers tried to have as much of a ‘happy ending’ as possible for a film like this. I definitely prefer the book ending. It is far superior to the film. My husband told me that he had heard that is the biggest complaint about the film. If you have seen the film and not read the book, please read it so you can see what I am talking about.

My husband did like the film version. He did tell me if he had not known the twist that he would have figured it out and he let me know where that would have been. Watching the movie and knowing the ending, I can’t believe I did not figure it out! He said if he had seen it when he was younger he would have enjoyed it more. My husband is 40 and I would say the film’s target audience is young men in their early 20’s.

I would recommend the film despite the ending. It will not be for everyone with the graphic violence.