Has it really been thirteen years since 1999? I was a tiny little thing, and I didn’t know how great movies were about to get because I was too busy playing YMCA soccer and waiting for my Seventeen magazine to come in the mail (so I could take a boyfriend quiz about a boyfriend I didn’t have). But that year was crazytown for movies- The Matrix, The Sixth Sense, American Beauty, Magnolia, Eyes Wide Shut, Being John Malkovich and FIGHT CLUB. If this is intriguing to you and you want to read a really well written but not at all funny article about this period in time/those movies there is one here (self promotion lol!)
The first time I watched Fight Club first I was like, wtf how does Brad Pitt do laundry on his own abs, and does that get tiring? and two, OH MY GOD THIS MOVIE. Watching this movie was like agreeing with myself over and over and over again. I would be watching it and be like, “That was awesome!!!” then to myself I would just as enthusiastically be like, “I know!!!! This is awesome!!!” Over and over and over again. Maybe like the fourth or fifth time I ever watched it, I sat down with a piece of paper and kept pausing it so I could write down all the quotes I liked and put them into my AIM profile. Actually. No comment on how many friends I had in seventh grade if books don’t count 😉
GOD this movie is literally the coolest. I guess I should start talking about actual things in the movie not just how excited I am. Okay so basically, Edward Norton has insomnia and is trapped in this consumerist/Ikea mindset and one day his condo explodes and everything he has accumulated in his life up until this point is lost in an inferno of symbolism and flames. (ACTUALLY the other day I drove by the worst accident I have ever seen in my life, there was a car on the highway that was literally engulfed in flames and three lanes over INSIDE my car I could feel the heat on my face- so this scene had more weight for me this time than it ever has before). So he does what anyone would do who has no family or friends (never explained) he calls the person who sat next to him on his plane whose business card he just acquired to stay with him. Seems legit.
This person, Tyler Durden, agrees to meet him for beer which turns into agreeing to let him stay at his house (if I had a nickel for every time lol hi mom) on the condition that he hits him in this parking lot outside wherever they were. Only he does it in this perfect meter, making the line, “I want you to hit me as hard as you can” something for teenage boys to life masturbate to for decades to come (PUN). So they have this brawl, which is awesome, and apparently according to director David Fincher- they were supposed to be faking it, but right before they started shooting, he pulled Ed Norton aside and told him to really hit Brad Pitt- so the punch in the ear and Brad’s subsequent reaction, “You hit me in the EAR” is all real. Cool. Moving on.
So, Edward Norton (who does not have a name in the film. He is ‘unnamed narrator.’ Obviously yes, he is Tyler Durden SPOILER ALERT but that’s a made up character, we never actually know his real name. A lot of people refer to him as ‘Jack’ because of the those medical journal articles he finds in the bathroom and then references a bunch of times but that’s not his name either) moves into the house on Paper Street and they start this lifestyle change. Basically everything Oprah would tell you to do, they do the opposite of that. They start training recruits and start something called “Project Mayhem.”
OH forgot to mention crucial things. The first thing Edward Norton does to cure his insomnia-before he has Fight Club- is he gets addicted to support groups for different illnesses. Cancers, parasites, everything. He goes, cries, then can sleep. The best character we get from these scenes is “Bob” (which is really Meat Loaf in a fatsuit!!!) a man who has testicular cancer and “bitch tits.” Then we get introduced to Marla Singer. This is a wonderful performance done by Helena Bonham Carter- originally the role was offered to REESE WITHERSPOON but she turned it down for being “too dark” and apparently David Fincher later said he thought she was too young. BUT IMAGINE. blech. But so Marla is this chain-smoking, bridesmaid dress wearing person who walks around saying things like, “the condom is the glass slipper of our generation” and “I haven’t been fucked like that since grade school.” Wonderful.
She is going to all the meetings too and this screws with Edward Norton’s head. So they agree to split them up, they exchange numbers and go their separate ways. But then they get involved SEXUALLY (always a good idea) and surprise! this complicates things. I mean probably what was complicating things more was that he was psychologically splitting himself into two people without conscious knowledge of doing so- but as a viewer we’re unaware of that at this point.
So they’re fucking, Project Mayhem is developing- but lots of things start to go wrong, mainly Edward Norton feels jealous because Tyler didn’t initially include him in Project Mayhem (“You decide your own level of involvement”) and he feels replaced by a very blonde Jared Leto whom he then beats to a fucking pulp in one of the underground sessions. Which they have secured from ‘Lou’ because Brad Pitt in a BRILLIANT scene laughs the whole time he’s getting beaten up by Lou (the club’s owner) then shakes his own blood onto Lou as he holds him in a vice grip while other people try to pull them apart. cool cool cool cool.
Which reminds me, Brad Pitt goes fucking apeshit in this movie. You kind of forget cause as he’s gotten older he’s done things like Benjamin Button (another Fincher film actually. So is Se7en- they are a good team these two) and Mr. and Mrs. Smith- so you kind of forgot how good/crazy he is but then, you watch this movie and remember. Before filming he voluntarily went to a dentist and got his front teeth chipped to look more like he thought Tyler would look. Bomb.
So, all this stuff is developing with the project, then Tyler leaves and Edward is like, what the what, what’s going on here? So he finds all these building addresses and plane tickets and he starts trying to trace Tyler’s steps which are really his steps and there are all these clues for the mindfuck that’s about to happen he keeps saying things like, “every place I went I had the strange feeling I had been there before” or “the second I stepped off the plane I would know where Tyler had been.”
And he keeps trying to call the plan off but he’s already warned them of this as Tyler, so they just try to cut his balls off but he escapes! Then basically he has a stand off with his imaginary self first in a parking garage around vans full of ether, then at the top of an abandoned building where everyone is gathering to watch the explosions. (They are blowing up credit card companies, so that the debt of everyone goes to zero in a socialist anarchist equalizer thing).
So he’s up there and Tyler has the gun, but then Edward Norton does some Matrix mind voodoo and realizes if Tyler has the gun, really he has the gun. So he gets the gun, then he realizes the only way to get rid of Tyler is to kill a part of himself, so he takes the GUN he’s holding and puts the barrel in his mouth and shoots himself. I’ve seen a lot of violence because I like watching violent movies and this shot is one of the most gruesome and realistic I’ve ever seen. The bullet shoots at an angle and blows the whole right side of his mouth out and there’s black blood and smoke coming from this gaping hole in his jaw. Then all these other people from Project Mayhem come with Marla and a 30 rack of Busch Lite (party!) but when they see his face they freak out and leave? Or they’re just out of scene. But the last shot (puns puns puns) is Edward Norton and Marla holding hands looking out, while everything around them explodes and a Pixies song plays. This is very different from the end of the book where they are in heaven ? And I don’t remember what else because I read it in high school, but Chuck Palahniuk has said that he didn’t know if viewers would believe the twist and he thought Fincher’s ending was in a lot of ways a stronger choice.
Also, everyone always (well in high school/early college) says that this is their favorite movie, and it makes you hate it a little because it’s so ubiquitous with ‘cool’ but then you watch it and you’re like, “Oh right. It is that good.”