Fight Club is a simulacrum of a great film: it's wonderfully acted, manicly and darkly funny, and stylish as hell. When I walked out of the theater, I thought this might be among the best films of the year. But the more I let my brain pick at it, the stronger my suspicion grew that there was something hollow and essentially superficial. I then picked up, as is sometimes my custom, Chuck Palahniuk's novel, and it became clear why Fight Club: The Movie is superficial. While the novel is far from perfect, it's a far more disturbing and nihilistic work than Fincher's adaptation, which barely touches The Narrator's intense fascination/repulsion toward death and reduces Marla to a one-dimensional outburst of blackly witty dialogue. Without that, Fight Club is emptily, if highly entertainingly, cynical as it smirks at both our consumeristic society and the shenanigans of Project Mayhem.
Both the movie and the book share one major flaw: they both get less interesting when the Project Mayhem plot kicks in. And like James Ellroy, Palahniuk's staccato prose style gets a little wearying over novel length.
The film's biggest joke is that for all of the BS espoused by Tyler about getting in touch with your male self, the pranks perpetrated by his secret society are little more than grandiose versions of teenage vandalism.