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Breakfast of Champions is a 1999 film adapted and directed by Alan Rudolph from the novel of the same name by Kurt Vonnegut Jr.

Bruce Willis stars as Dwayne Hoover, a car dealer who is quickly losing touch with himself and reality. Albert Finney plays science fiction writer Kilgore Trout, a character who appears in several of Vonnegut's other stories. Nick Nolte plays Dwayne's cross-dressing business associate Harry LeSabre. Omar Epps is cast as Wayne Hoobler, a jailbird attempting to work on Dwayne's lot.

Production

Lukas Haas makes a cameo as Bunny, Dwayne's homosexual son, who, in the novel, plays piano in the lounge at the Holiday Inn. For legal reasons, in the film Bunny instead plays at the AmeriTel Inn.

Much of the film was shot in and around Twin Fallsmarker, Idahomarker.

Kurt Vonnegut makes a one-line cameo as a TV commercial director.

Vonnegut's reaction

At the close of the Harper Audiobook edition of Breakfast of Champions, there is brief conversation between Vonnegut and long-time friend and attorney, Donald C. Farber in which the two, among jokes, disparage this loose film adaptation of the book as "painful to watch."

Critical Reception

Breakfast of Champions received negative reviews, scoring a 25% on Rotten Tomatoes. In his review for The New York Times, Stephen Holden wrote, "In many ways, Breakfast of Champions is an incoherent mess. But it never compromises its zany vision of the country as a demented junkyard wonderland in which we are all strangers groping for a hand to guide us through the looking glass into an unsullied tropical paradise of eternal bliss." Entertainment Weekly gave the film an "F" rating and Owen Gleiberman wrote, "Rudolph, in an act of insane folly, seems to think that what matters is the story. The result could almost be his version of a Robert Altman disaster - a movie so unhinged it practically dares you not to hate it." In his review for the San Francisco Chronicle, Peter Stack wrote, "Rudolph botches the material big time. Relying on lame visual gimmicks that fall flat, and insisting on pushing almost every scene as frantic comedy weighted by social commentary, he forces his actors to become hams rather than believable characters." Sight and Sound magazine's Edward Lawrenson wrote, "Willis' performance, all madness, no method, soon feels embarrassingly indulgent." In his review for the Los Angeles Times, Kevin Thomas wrote, "As it is, Breakfast of Champions is too in-your-face, too heavily satirical in its look, and its ideas not as fresh as they should be. For the film to have grabbed us from the start, Rudolph needed to make a sharper differentiation between the everyday world his people live in and the vivid world of their tormented imaginations." In her review for the Village Voice, Amy Taubin wrote, "Another middle-aged male-crisis opus, it begins on a note of total migraine-inducing hysteria, which continues unabated throughout."

References

  1. Breakfast of Champions CD Unabridged by Kurt Vonnegut, Jr


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