Movie Review By Monica Sullivan
If "200 Cigarettes" looks like one of those concept-driven flicks designed to sell soundtrack CD's, it's only because it IS. It's filled with hot young studs and starlets, none of them sizzling enough to sell a picture individually, but collectively impressive on Music Television trailers. Surprise: MTV and Paramount co-produced this 97 minute installment of "Love, American Style," circa New Year's Eve, 1981. In retrospect, that night looks like a more innocent time, as all nights of New Year's Eve past seem to be in retrospect. It certainly wasn't innocent to the people who had to live through it. But this is 1981 styled by 1999 artistes with the aid of short memories and old magazines. The structure is borrowed from 1933's "Dinner At Eight": assorted folks are on their way to the party to end all parties, except the party is hollow at the core. In "200 Cigarettes," Martha Plimpton is a failed hostess named Monica, fluttering around her empty apartment as the long night drags on. The only one to show up at first is Brian McCardie as her ex-boyfriend Eric, who swears he will leave unless she tells him the real reason why she dumped him.
Meanwhile, Christina Ricci and Gaby Hoffman as Val and Stephie are wandering around the wicked city with fake ID's, since they can't find cousin Monica's address. Ben Affleck is a bartender who can't get laid. Casey Affleck and Courtney Love are Tom and Lucy, who have a hard time getting laid. Goldie Hawn's daughter Kate Hudson is Cindy who got laid the night before, but is rolling in dog excrement on The Big Night itself. Jay Mohr's nose has no bridge whatever, so he should never be seen in profile or with his hair combed back as he is here. Janeane Garafalo is around just long enough for us to imagine that "200 Cigarettes" might be as classy as she is. Elvis Costello, seen mainly in party stills, has a very small cameo. The party is also seen mainly in party stills. Think about it: "200 Cigarettes" equals 200 dead butts. Sound appetizing? If you dig the music of 198l, buy the CD and save your movie money for a better film.
© 1999 - Monica Sullivan - Air Date: 02/24/99
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