Cast:

Bartender - Ben Affleck
Tom - Casey Affleck
Kaitlyn - Angela Featherstone
Ellie - Janeane Garofalo
Stephie - Gaby Hoffman
Cindy - Kate Hudson
Lucy -  Courtney Love
Jack - Jay Mohr (Jerry Maguire)
Monica - Martha Plimpton (Parenthood)
Val - Christina Ricci
Kevin - Paul Rudd (Clueless, Object of my Affection)


Director: Risa Bramon Garcia


I am a card-carrying, self-professed child of the 80s. I have never denied that fact. Even before the retro movement kicked in a few years back, I was still a closet fan. So I've always had a place in my heart for those films that

    a)  attempt to recapture the culture and feeling of the decade, and
    b)  contain, and effectively use music from that era.

In the past couple of years, there have been successes (Romy and Michelle's HS Reunion, Grosse Point Blank and The Wedding Singer) and failures (54) and I applaud each one. Even the attempt scores the movie points before I even see it. Call me biased if you must. So, I shall breakdown, by point totals, how this movie does, in my eyes, at recapturing, and entertaining. (Attempt at Story + 2)

(Storyline Ideas +2)

The basic storyline revolves around a New Years Eve party in 1981. The party is being held by XXX (Plimpton), and through ways that are sometimes explained, and sometimes not, each of these people is on their way there. During this journey, the various aspects of love are delved into, from friendship to break-ups to innocence to infidelity; the characters spend a lot of time talking about it, and a little acting upon it. Overall, it's about 50/50 in entertainment value of the stories.

(Performances: Hudson gets a +3, but rest average that down to an overall of +1.5)

As far as the performances, Hudson and Mohr's storyline was nice, accentuated by a wonderfully ditzy, but honestly emotional performance from Hudson (daughter of Goldie Hawn, you can see hints of mom in her already). Love and Rudd were interesting in beginning, but kept rehashing the same ideas. I tired quickly of them. The rest were fairly unentertaining, including the particularly annoying, overacted, profanity-laden performances of Hoffman and Ricci, and the sleepwalker job done by pretty-boy Ben Affleck

 

(Conclusion: +3.5)

Finally, the conclusion saves face for this film. The characters were developed fairly well, but it just spent way too much time letting me know them. Most of them were shallow, materialistic, self-servient people, who cared about little but their own gratification. I lived in the 80s, and that was not the prevalent attitude, maybe in NY it was, but not for me. These people got on my nerves after a bit, not because they weren't realistic (I'm sure these people were out there somewhere), but more because I saw too much of them. If this movie was about a half-hour shorter, it would've worked a lot better. The ending works, because you understand these people. In their search for what they want, each gets it and from some unexpected sources. In that aspect, I applaud the filmmaker, for at least not going totally predictable.

 

(Music: +3.5)

Bonus points for the use of the music. I love movies that use music well, and when it's 80s music, you have to screw up pretty bad for me not to enjoy it (54 wasted their chance to use disco). This movie is chock full of 80s classics from Queen, Soft Cell, and of course, Elvis (Costello that is. It uses these tunes in fitting situations, never substituting it for dialogue, but more creating a soundtrack for an era, as background.

I guess part of my letdown for this movie was that I had just seen the masterfully done Playing By Heart, which tells the stories of searching for love from a much better, and much more varied, perspective. 200 Cigarettes is an adequate movie, nothing to rush out for, but not really a waste. How does it total up in the overall cinematic equation? Get out your Casio wristwatch calculator and total it up. ($$1/2 of $$$$)


Go To Reel Rambling Page
Go To Main Page


You can also see my reviews at the Online Film Critics Society, of which I am a proud member.