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Overall Rating

Awesome: 21.05%
Worth A Look: 21.05%
Average: 5.26%
Pretty Bad34.21%
Total Crap: 18.42%

3 reviews, 20 user ratings

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Breakfast of Champions
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by Greg Muskewitz

"Not my brand of cinema."
2 stars

Maybe a better title might have been Being Bruce Willis. When Dwayne Hoover (Bruce Willis) walks into his ecclesiastical entourage of employees all donning those cardboard masks of Willis, one is taken back to the warped bizarrities of Being John Malkovich. But instead of a tame dip into voyeurism by being someone else, the experiences inside Hoover’s head, the mad antics of Breakfast of Champions, overloads and short circuits.

Hoover is going mad. He runs a car dealership (“Exit 11”) in Midland City. He’s married to a nut job (Barbara Hershey) whose development never sees the light of day. No explanation is offered, only occasionally is it brought up that she tried to commit suicide. They also have a son (Lukas Haas) of whom we see maybe twice on occasion, and is some sort of feminine or gay lounge singer named Bunny. Hoover himself, on the brink of insanity, is also prepared to kill himself, and his distrausity is cut up on screen by two other small vignettes. The least interesting concerns Kilgore Trout (the bloated Albert Finney). In my perception, this guy is the fictional equivalent of Frank Herbert meets Marshall Applewhite, meets L. Ron Hubbard. He lives in seclusion with a bird, and is selected as a guest of honor in the Midland City Fine Arts Festival. He writes about chaos and is forever misunderstood. (His novel’s covers have college sorority girls preparing for copulation with a solo guy.) For obvious reasons the final slice has Nick Nolte as a manager and good bud of Dwayne’s who fears that Dwayne “knows everything!” of his secrets of Tantric sex and pleasure from being accoutered in women’s clothes (teddies, tutus, garderbelts, etc.). This last vignette is by far the silliest, yet still most enjoyable because it’s least loaded and the least preachy of the three.

The movie has energy, but director Alan Rudolph places and conducts it in all the wrong places. Rudolph additionally adapts his screenplay from Kurt Vonnegut Jr.’s novel. Much of what happens on screen feels shortchanged. I can come up with two possible reasons for the dilemma: one, much more was shot but then edited out to get a 110-minute running time. Two, the golden rule of “show, don’t tell.” Granted, if Rudolph would have tried to fill the screen up with any more images or details, it would have been even further superfluous.

A lot of Breakfast of Champions’ distress lies not within how the movie was filmed, but more the fact that it was filmed. Vonnegut’s novel doesn’t make an adept adaptation to something preplanned with designated moving images. The intramural story works so much more rapturously as an individual prospect that each person can construct and develop on their own. The book is too esoteric to put a definitive placement on as a movie and Rudolph is too passé to handle such a job. His last piece, Afterglow, was much more of a nicely situated interworking of character studies ruminating on unhappiness and anguish. But with Breakfast of Champions, there’s nothing to tell –it more than deserves to k-o the title It’s a Mad Mad Mad Mad World. Breakfast is overly chaotic and burdened for being so. There isn’t a sane person in the movie –and like in the Scream franchise, every character is given a certain amount of suspicion and red herrings, the characters in Breakfast of Champions is faced with divvying up all the chaos and madness available in modern cinema. Breakfast of Champions never suffers from being commonplace, but the material is too ambitious to be smoothed out.

Willis consistently looks overwhelmed by his character as if it were overly physically draining. He made a nice Dwayne Hoover, but the character is so neurotic and such a spaz that it’s never fun to have to suffer with him. I admire Willis for choosing a role more off-center and obscure. (Between The Sixth Sense, this, and the upcoming The Whole Nine Yards and Unbreakable, he really goes for diverse.) But in this, it’s just too fey; there’s no way out. And the majority of the large supporting cast –minus Nolte and Glenn Headly—seems a waste for such a scatterbrained overload. The laughs are inconsistent and too often strained, and the rest is just off the map.

Final Verdict: D+

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originally posted: 03/20/00 07:52:31
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User Comments

12/14/11 avrohom leichtling Excellent film - captures Vonnegut's spirit perfectly - love it! 5 stars
10/19/04 Karen This movie was like a bad drug trip. 1 stars
7/22/04 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
12/19/02 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
2/05/02 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
6/04/01 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
1/08/01 zeitgeist pretty damn good, but READ THE BOOK 4 stars
7/07/00 Biff Cool If it weren't based on something maybe... 3 stars
5/21/00 mahone Hollywood + avant garde literature = death 2 stars
10/27/99 pipeman This movie is hideous. If it hadn't been filmed in my hometown, I would have walked out. 1 stars
9/19/99 Mr Showbiz This Vonnetgut adaptation never really gels despite a big name cast. 3 stars
9/18/99 Jeff Michels Vonnegut at his finest 5 stars
9/12/99 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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