A List of Movies Like Fight Club, Plus Fight Club Summary and Quotes
This page will provide my personal list of incredible, surreal, philosophical movies like Fight Club. At the end of this list, I have included a Fight Club summary, some of my favorite Fight Club quotes, Fight Club clips, and Fight Club related links.
Movies “Like” Fight Club
When searching for movies like Fight Club, we must ask ourselves, “What, exactly, is Fight Club like?” There are many possible correct answers, only one of which is, “Fight Club is like the greatest movie ever made.” For me, Fight Club is essentially a movie that hammers at the very foundation of what it is to be human, especially for my own generation (formally known as Generation “We Are So Screwed”). Fight Club is existential, philosophical, a mind-trip, life-changing, pure art… the list goes on. Well, you get my point, I’m sure: I like Fight Club. If I were to tell you that I’ve seen it over twenty times, you might be inclined to promptly exit this page, as it must surely be the production of a lunatic. So I won’t tell you.
Needless to say, if you choose to remain on this page, you will receive the best list of movies like Fight Club that the internet has to offer. All of these movies are deep, human, surreal, intellectually challenging, emotionally gripping, and artfully filmed. They have all had a major impact on my life, and I have watched them many times. So here is the list.
Angels in America
Angels in America is a gut-wrenching, hallucinatory journey into the heart of America and the human condition. The movie is an epic six-hour-long adaptation of Tony Kushner’s Pulitzer Prize-winning play. Its cast includes Al Pacino and Meryl Streep, of all people. The plot revolves around several sets of characters whose lives intersect in various ways during the Reagan administration and the outbreak of the AIDS epidemic. To give you an idea of the movie’s depth, here is a quote, in which an angel tells a man dying of AIDS to pass this prophetic warning to humanity:
"You must stop moving . . . forsake the open road . . . let deep roots grow . . . seek not to fathom the World and its delicate particle logic. You cannot understand, you can only destroy, you do not advance, you only trample. Poor blind Children, abandoned on the Earth, groping terrified, misguided, over fields of slaughter, over bodies of the slain. Hobble yourselves! There is no Zion save where you are! . . . stasis. The end."
Director Richard Linklater pushed the envelope with his use of rotoscoping, a filming technique in which animators trace over live-action film. The technique worked amazingly well for this movie, which is a visual and thematic masterpiece. Although there is no linear plot, strictly speaking (mirroring one of the film’s major themes about life in general), the action centers around a boy apparently stuck in a cycle of dreams in which he alternately gains and loses lucidity. The bulk of Waking Life's content consists of a diverse range of colorful characters appearing and divulging philosophical wisdom, addressing themes of nihilism, existentialism, transhumanism, and much more.
Donnie Darko is almost impossible to describe. Just watch it. Of all the movies on this list, Donnie Darko most closely approaches Fight Club’s theme of mental illness. In Fight Club, the main character’s mental illness was Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID), formerly known as Multiple Personality Disorder. Although “split-personalities” are often mistakenly associated with schizophrenia, schizophrenia is a completely different disorder, the primary symptoms of which are the loss of touch with reality. Donnie Darko illustrates this loss of touch with reality. Or does it? Depending on how you interpret the film, Donnie was either schizophrenic, or he was just savvy to a very real layer of reality that was simply hidden from common sight. Of course, Donnie Darko is beautifully filmed and includes a wide-range of grippingly-presented philosophical/existential themes, otherwise, it wouldn’t be on this list. Also, the soundtrack is perfect.
Speaking of perfect soundtracks, the soundtrack for Magnolia is the most perfect of all soundtracks. Like all of the movies on this list, Magnolia walks a line between reality as we know it and a dreamy sort of hyper-reality in which everything is somehow interconnected, and anything can happen. Hidden symbols and numbers are layered throughout the movie, although the possible meanings of these arcana should be investigated elsewhere on the internet after you have watched the movie. As in Angels in America, there are several plots and sets of characters whose lives ultimately touch and intersect in different (and often strange) ways.
So there it is. You can thank me later. Or hate me later, for turning your life upside-down. I also highly recommend American Beauty and Crash. Although neither of them is surreal enough to make it onto “the list”, they are otherwise perfect in every way. Watch them now.
Fight Club Summary
Now for the much-promised Fight Club summary. David Fincher's Fight Club, the greatest movie ever made, was based on a book by the venerable novelist and homosexual, Chuck Palahniuk. I like to mention his sexuality immediately, only because of a popular misconception of Fight Club as some kind of “macho movie”, the epitome of barbaric, testosterone-fueled mindlessness. If you are someone who has thus mischaracterized the movie, not having seen it, go see it. If you have thus mischaracterized the movie, having seen it already, please leave, and remember not to spread your DNA into the human gene pool.
So as not to spoil anything for those who haven’t seen the movie, I’ll keep this summary brief and sufficiently cryptic. In Fight Club, an anonymous character--for good reasons, I’ll call him Cornelius--suffers from severe insomnia, which leads him to an unlikely cure: support-groups. Cornelius attends all sort of support-groups for terminal illnesses which he does not have, because being around people who have lost all hope relieves his existential angst, allowing him to sleep. This support-group thing becomes an addiction. But then a woman named Marla Singer, another support-group “tourist” ruins everything. Cornelius is unable to get anything out of the support-groups if he knows another tourist like himself is present. So again, he can’t sleep.
At some point, he meets a man on an airplane named Tyler Durden. Tyler is a charismatic, hip, philosophy-spouting sort of antichrist, who represents all the things that Cornelius sees as lacking in his own mundane life. Tyler makes soap. Tyler gives Cornelius his business card, so when Cornelius’ apartment blows up, having no one to turn to, Cornelius gives Tyler a call. They meet at a bar, have a few drinks, and then start hitting each other just to finally see what it feels like to be in a fight. Cornelius, now homeless, moves into Tyler’s house, which is almost literally falling apart. Cornelius and Tyler proceed to fall apart, losing teeth and sanity as they plunge deep into Tyler’s creation: Fight Club. Fight Club is a place for men to meet and forget the emptiness of modern corporate life by reverting back to a primitive state of noble savagery, if only for an hour or so. In all actuality, Fight Club is group therapy, much like the support-groups Cornelius had frequented (but now stops attending as Fight Club becomes all-consuming).
The first rule of Fight Club is, “You do not talk about Fight Club.” But since everyone breaks the first rule, Fight Club grows rapidly. Finally, Tyler moves on to his next hobby: Project Mayhem, an all-out anarchist movement which essentially becomes a national network of terrorist cells. This is a lot more than Cornelius had bargained for. And somewhere in the midst of all this mayhem is a woman named Marla Singer. Exactly where she fits in, I will not say, as that would spoil the plot. The movie ends with ambiguity and a penis. Now go see it (even if you already have).
Fight Club Quotes
"...an entire generation pumping gas, waiting tables; slaves with white collars. Advertising has us chasing cars and clothes, working jobs we hate so we can buy shit we don't need. We're the middle children of history, man. No purpose or place. We have no Great War. No Great Depression. Our Great War's a spiritual war... our Great Depression is our lives."
"When people think you're dying, they really, really listen to you, instead of just waiting for their turn to speak."
"This is your life, and it's ending one minute at a time."
"The ability to let that which does not matter truly slide."
"I let go. Lost in oblivion. Dark and silent and complete. I found freedom. Losing all hope was freedom."
"Fight Club wasn't about winning or losing. It wasn't about words. The hysterical shouting was in tongues, like at a Pentecostal Church."
"You are not special. You are not a beautiful or unique snowflake. You are the same decaying organic matter as everything else."
"I say never be complete, I say stop being perfect, I say let, let's evolve, let the chips fall where they may."
"It could be worse. A woman could cut off your penis while you're sleeping and toss it out the window of a moving car."
"Now, a question of etiquette - as I pass, do I give you the ass or the crotch?"
"You're not your job. You're not how much money you have in the bank. You're not the car you drive. You're not the contents of your wallet. You're not your f***ing khakis. You're the all-singing, all-dancing crap of the world."
"F*** damnation, man! F*** redemption! We are God's unwanted children? So be it!"
"I felt like destroying something beautiful."
"When deep space exploration ramps up, it'll be the corporations that name everything, the IBM Stellar Sphere, the Microsoft Galaxy, Planet Starbucks."
"You have a kind of sick desperation in your laugh."
"Yes, we're men. Men are what we are."
"Sticking feathers up your butt does not make you a chicken."
"In the world I see - you are stalking elk through the damp canyon forests around the ruins of Rockefeller Center. You'll wear leather clothes that will last you the rest of your life. You'll climb the wrist-thick kudzu vines that wrap the Sears Tower. And when you look down, you'll see tiny figures pounding corn, laying strips of venison on the empty carpool lane of some abandoned superhighway."
© 2011 Justin Aptaker