Breakfast of Champions
Breakfast of Champions (film).jpg
US DVD cover
Directed byAlan Rudolph
Screenplay byAlan Rudolph
Based onBreakfast of Champions
by Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.
Produced byDavid Blocker
David Willis
CinematographyElliot Davis
Edited bySuzy Elmiger
Music byMark Isham
Distributed byBuena Vista Pictures Distribution[1]
Release date
  • September 17, 1999 (1999-09-17)
Running time
110 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$12 million[2]
Box office$178,278[2]

Breakfast of Champions is a 1999 American satirical black comedy film adapted and directed by Alan Rudolph, from Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.'s 1973 novel of the same name. Though the producers entered it into the 49th Berlin International Film Festival,[3] the film was negatively received by critics and was a box office bomb that was withdrawn from theatres before going into wide release. It has not yet been given a digital release.


Dwayne Hoover, a car salesman who is the most respected businessman in Midland City, Indiana, is on the verge of a nervous breakdown, even attempting suicide daily. His wife, Celia, is addicted to pills, and his sales manager and best friend, Harry Le Sabre, is preoccupied with his own secret fondness for wearing lingerie, worried he will be discovered.

Meanwhile, a little-known science fiction author, Kilgore Trout, is hitchhiking across the United States to speak at Midland City's arts festival. In search of answers for his identity quest, Hoover decides to attend the festival.



Lukas Haas makes a cameo as Bunny, Dwayne's 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.[citation needed]

The film's soundtrack predominantly features the exotica recordings of Martin Denny to tie in with Hoover's Hawaiian-based sales promotion.

Much of the film was shot in and around Twin Falls, Idaho.[4] Kurt Vonnegut makes a one-line cameo as a TV commercial director.[5]


Box office

The film made $178,278 against a budget of $12 million.[2]

Critical response

Breakfast of Champions received negative reviews, scoring a rating of 26% on Rotten Tomatoes based on 47 reviews, with an average score of 4.23/10. The consensus states: "The movie is overwhelmed by its chaotic visual effects and disjointed storyline."[6] 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."[7] 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."[8]

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."[9] Sight and Sound magazine's Edward Lawrenson wrote "Willis' performance, all madness, no method, soon feels embarrassingly indulgent."[10] 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."[11]

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."[12] The French filmmaker and critic Luc Moullet, on the other hand, regarded it as one of the great films of the 1990s.[13]

Vonnegut's reaction

At the close of the Harper audiobook edition of Breakfast of Champions, there is a brief conversation between Vonnegut and his long-time friend and attorney Donald C. Farber, in which the two, among making jokes, disparage this loose film adaptation of the book as "painful to watch."[14]

See also


  1. ^ "Breakfast Of Champions (1998)". BBFC. Retrieved 29 July 2021.
  2. ^ a b c "Breakfast of Champions". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 23 May 2023.
  3. ^ "Berlinale: 1999 Programme". Archived from the original on September 21, 2022. Retrieved 2012-01-29.
  4. ^ "Breakfast of Champions makes an impression". May 29, 1998. Retrieved 3 January 2018.
  5. ^ "It's a decade since Twin Falls' last picture show". Retrieved 3 January 2018.
  6. ^ "Breakfast of Champions". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 2019-07-22.
  7. ^ Holden, Stephen (September 17, 1999). "The Affluent Society? Welcome to the Fun House". The New York Times. Retrieved 2009-07-23.
  8. ^ Gleiberman, Owen (September 24, 1999). "Breakfast of Champions". Entertainment Weekly. Archived from the original on May 26, 2007. Retrieved 2009-07-23.
  9. ^ Stack, Peter (December 10, 1999). "Way Too Much Ham in Overdone Breakfast". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 2009-07-23.
  10. ^ Lawrenson, Edward (September 2000). "Breakfast of Champions". Sight and Sound. Archived from the original on 2009-06-30. Retrieved 2009-07-23.
  11. ^ Thomas, Kevin (September 17, 1999). "Breakfast of Champions". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2012-02-28.
  12. ^ Taubin, Amy (September 21, 1999). "Sticky-Sweet Hereafters". Village Voice. Archived from the original on September 16, 2018. Retrieved 2009-07-23.
  13. ^ "Questionnaire (Luc Moulett)". Cahiers du cinéma. January 2000. Retrieved January 3, 2018 – via Howling Wretches.
  14. ^ Vonnegut, Jr., Kurt (2004). Breakfast of Champions (CD Unabridged ed.). HarperCollins. Archived from the original on November 18, 2007.