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A portrait of a fictional town in the mid west that is home to a group of idiosyncratic and slightly neurotic characters. Dwayne Hoover is a wealthy car dealer-ship owner that's on the brink of suicide and is losing touch with reality. Written by
After a recent Vonnegut reading binge I was eager to see Breakfast of Champions when I saw it on the video shelf. A great cast, a director (Aland Rudolph) who has made several films I've enjoyed (Choose Me, The Moderns, Trouble in Mind). Sadly, BofC is quite a disappointment.
Two things really stick out for me. Although Bruce Willis was quite good as Dwayne Hoover, too many of the other characters, notably Harry LeSabre (Nick Nolte) and Wayne Hoobler (Omar Epps) are portrayed in frenetic over the top performances. OK...we get it that there are all sorts of crazies running amuck in Midland City, but the point Vonnegut was making in his novel was that this madness is displayed in the "normal" everyday way that we live our lives in America. The values (consumerism, greed, violence) and actions that are considered normal in the United States are themselves proof that we are all suffering from a form of madness...showing these fine actors jumping around and uttering indecipherable gibberish shows only that they are annoying.
The film also has a problem in creating a consistent point of view. In the novel the author guides us through Dwayne Hoovers' unfolding madness and is actually a character in the book. The movie can't give us the background information the books' narrator did and I would guess that anyone who hasn't read the book will find the movie tough going...perhaps downright incomprehensible.
Lastly, as a great fan of Kilgore Trout (Vonnegut fans know him as a character who pops up in several Vonnegut novels) I thought Albert Finney did quite a nice job; he had just the right air of unkempt, curmudgeonly, insane genius that makes Trout my favorite Vonnegut character of all time. Still, it's hardly enough to save this mess...I admire the effort in bringing Breakfast of Champions to the screen, but in the end it's likely that this is an unfilmable novel.
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