Attention moviegoers: you are about to enter a meaning-free zone.
Should the sound system malfunction during your viewing of 200
CIGARETTES, do not panic. The film will work just as well as a silent
Chronicling the meaningless lives of vain, yuppie types, the movie
covers the same ground as the Wilt Stillman films (LAST DAYS OF DISCO,
BARCELONA and METROPOLITAN) but without any of his acerbic wit and the
inviting style of his writing. First-time writer Shana Larsen makes the
mistake of creating a couple of dozen characters and not giving any of
them any depth. There isn't one of these characters worth caring about.
The movie features such a cornucopia of hot young stars that it looks
like a celluloid version of "People Magazine." Among others, the movie
features: Ben Affleck, Casey Affleck, David Chappelle, Janeane Garofalo,
Gaby Hoffmann, Catherine Kellner, Courtney Love, Jay Mohr, Martha
Plimpton, Christina Ricci and Paul Rudd. And unlike People Magazine,
the people speak, not that they have anything interesting to say.
It's New Year's Eve in 1981, and Monica (Martha Plimpton) is preparing
her big party. Structured as a series of relatively unrelated stories
about her guests on the way to the party, director Risa Bramon Garcia
flits back and forth among her stars. Monica's apartment is in "NoHo,"
an area that one of the guests describes as "so cool, all of the poor
people live there."
Typical of the shallow couples in the movie are Kevin (Paul Rudd) and
his friend and would-be sexual partner Lucy (Courtney Love). They argue
about whether Lucy is a slut or not since she sleeps with everyone,
except him, of course. She dares him to go immediately to a bathroom
stall and have sex with her, which turns out to be neither erotic, funny
or successful -- rather like the rest of the story.
The movie gets its title from the carton of cigarettes that Lucy gives
Kevin for his New Year's Eve birthday. "Cigarettes are a shield against
emotional interaction with other people," Kevin later tells Lucy in a
snippet of dialog that sounds profound only outside the context of the
Another character, played by Jay Mohr, has a problem with his sexual
triumphs. Every woman he beds falls deeply in love with him by the next
morning. When his latest conquest tells him of her affection for him,
his response is "I like a lot of people."
As the movie finally draws to a close, the characters awaken from their
post-party game of musical beds. Some have passed out early from
alcohol abuse and remember little, while others actually have some clue
as to what happened. The movie itself is so forgettable that by the
time you reach your car in the parking lot, all trace of the film will
have vanished from your mind, which is probably the best thing that can
be said about the movie.
200 CIGARETTES runs 1:40. It is rated R for profanity, sex and one dope
smoking scene and would be acceptable for older teenagers.
Copyright © 1999 Steve Rhodes