by Brian McKay
Well, after glancing at the reviews of my fellow bitchslappers, I'm gonna go out on a limb here. (ahem) - Jesus Christ, am I the only one who found this movie entertaining!? Am I just too generous when I say that this is a genuinely funny film? Or do I just find it funny because I remember the time so well. Lord, just the clothes on Christina Ricci and Gaby Hoffman are enough to keep me amused for 2 hours. Step into the wayback machine with me, and let's return to New Years Eve, 1981. Disco was on its way out, and the "New Wave" was pounding on the shore, bringing in a fresh tide of angst for a new decade, and for a new generation of whiny white young suburbanitesI wasn't into Punk when I went to High School back in the 80's. I wasn't into "New Wave", either. I liked making fun of those people back then - and I still do. Apparently, so do the makers of "200 cigarettes", a mocking yet nostalgic look back at the beginning of an era.
"Ah, the 80's - always good for a laugh. Or maybe you had to be there."
In many ways, "200 Cigarettes" is no different than most of the movies we've seen about angst-riddled hipsters out for a good time while dealing with the pressures of relationships. We've seen it all before in movies like "Singles", "Reality Bites", etc. Most of the characters here are rather generic, and there are so many of them that none ever really get a chance to be developed very much. But the movie has a certain charm and cleverness about it that keeps it interesting.
The premise is that several people, most of whom don't know each other, are on their way to the same New Years Eve party. There are too many of them mention, but among the cast of thousands is Courtney Love, Jay Mohr, Kate Hudson, Ben Affleck (who only has about 10 lines, thank Christ), Janine Garafalo, and several other people you would expect to see in a film like this. Everyone is late for the party either because they are lost, unavoidably detained, or simply don't want to be the first to arrive. Several of them cross paths, not knowing that the same destiny, or at least destination, awaits them. Many relationships are formed, only to have them mixed and rematched by the time the night is done. The one element that ties them all together in their journey is the Disco Cabbie (Dave Chappel), the film's narrator, token brother, and comedic highlight.
Though the movie gets bogged down in tired relationship dialogue far too often, there is a lot of funny material to be found in-between. And I have to admire this film for spending 90 minutes building up to this party and pairing off all of these couples, only to have it veer away into completely new directions. This keeps the ending fresh and unpredictably fun, like a good punchline to a joke that took a bit too much time to set-up, but is still worth the payoff. And, if nothing else, the way some of these fucking people dressed back then ought to put a smile on your face - again."200 Cigarettes" delivers about twice the laughs of its genre counterparts ("The Wedding Singer", for example), and only about half of the relationship schmaltz melodrama: Tastes great, less filling! Maybe you didn't have to be there to find this movie funny, but it probably wouldn't hurt.
link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=1488&reviewer=258
originally posted: 06/19/01 21:37:36