200 Cigarettes (1999)

200 cigarettes

“I think it’s time to quit smoking.”

The Scoop: 1999 R, directed by Risa Bramon Garcia and starring Ben Affleck, Kate Hudson, and Dave Chappelle

Tagline: It’s 11:59 on New Year’s Eve. Do you know where your date is?

Summary Capsule: On New Year’s Eve 1981 a bunch of New Yorkers try to have a good time and eventually all end up at the same party.

Andie’s rating: Smokin’!

Andie’s review: 200 Cigarettes is a little-known movie that came out a last year ago. For the all-star cast it has, I’m usually surprised at how few people have actually seen it. But it’s a pretty cool movie, it has awesome music and a funny plot and good actors.

So it’s New Year’s Eve and all these different people are wandering around New York before they head out to a party. The person throwing the part is Monica, who is hilariously played by Martha Plimpton. She wants her party to be absolutely perfect, so when no one is arriving she starts to have a breakdown. The way she slowly spirals into a drunken coma is classic. What she doesn’t know is that all her guests are just pre-partying and will eventually show up but she’s so anal that she starts drinking herself into a stupor.

The guests who are aimlessly wandering the streets of New York include two high schoolers played by Gaby Hoffman and Christina Ricci. Their accents grate on my nerves, but I imagine that’s what everybody from Long Island probably sounds like. They encounter two punk lookin guys played by Guillermo Diaz and Casey Affleck. Christina Ricci makes out with both of them and Gaby Hoffman doesn’t get any play. But that’s probably because she’s dressed really scary and has a short, butch hairdo that looks awful.

Speaking of Affleck, Ben Affleck is in the movie as a bartender. First Courtney Love tries to pick him up, then a couple of skanky girls who think if they don’t get laid on New Year’s Eve they’ll be cursed for the rest of the year try to pick him up. Turns out he’s a really annoying lawyer guy who can’t stop talking business.

Courtney Love is Lucy, who is out for New Year’s with her totally cute best friend David, played by Paul Rudd. They fight a lot, but they obviously really care for each other. Do you think they’ll get together by movie’s end? Hmmmmm…..

Janeane Garofalo plays Paul Rudd’s ex-girlfriend. She’s a totally feminist man-hater, which I’m sure is not a stretch for ole Janeane’s acting skills. There’s a rumor going around that she slept with Jay Mohr’s character while she was still dating Paul Rudd.

Jay Mohr is out on the town with Kate Hudson (could she be any more adorable?). Kate Hudson is a VERY accident-prone girl who, as it turns out, just gave up her virginity to Jay Mohr. Which means he immediately becomes obsessed with her and what it was about him that made her give it up.

Popping up as Disco Cabbie from time to time is Dave Chappelle. He basically just drives around and gives these people advice and he eventually gets to come to the party. He’s extremely funny.

So anyway, all these people finally make it to Monica’s party but Monica has long since passed out in her bed. The party rages anyway, with everybody hooking up with somebody else (all good parties end that way). Monica awakens in the morning to learn that she missed her own kick-ass party where Elvis Costello even made an appearance.

The entire movie is very cool, very funny, and filled with very likeable characters. It’s a good party movie as it will appeal to both girls and guys. I highly recommend it. Oh and by the way, even though everybody and their mother in this movie smokes, I only counted 43 cigarettes and that includes ones smoked by some background people. There’s no way they smoked 200 cigarettes.

Drew’s rating: James Brown is now the baddest mother#@&*!& in the cemetery.

Drew’s review: Journey back with me, friends… back to a time before Dave Chappelle went batshiz crazy over getting rich, biotch; back to when seeing Ben Affleck in a low-budget movie made sense; back to when seeing Casey Affleck period made sense. Journey back with me… to the late 90s. Then keep right on going to 1981, when 200 Cigarettes takes place.

It’s the evening of December 31, the perfect time to get boozed up, make some bad decisions, and start the new year off right by waking up next to someone whose name you don’t, to be completely technical, remember. Or so my wife tells me. Anyway, that’s the stance taken by several groups of young adults in New York, all heading for a party hosted by Monica (Martha Plimpton). One problem: Val (Christina Ricci) and Stephie (Gaby Hoffman) can’t find the place, Kevin (Paul Rudd) is too busy whining about his recent breakup to best friend Lucy (Courtney Love), and Jack (Jay Mohr) just wants to figure out what made Cindy (Kate Hudson) give up her virginity to him the night before. But hey, Monica’s got more worries than just guests who refuse to arrive, including an ex-boyfriend who’s… *ahem* somewhat lacking in certain key relationship areas, ifyouknowwhatImean.

Let me cut to the chase: it’s a good movie, not a great movie. I think what differentiates Cigarettes from a classic like Empire Records is that it gives the distinct impression of having been built around the soundtrack, rather than the other way around. You feel like the meeting between studio execs went something like this:

“Hey, you know what would be great? We should do a movie with all those semi-obscure 80s songs people remember.”
“I love it! What will it be about?”
“I don’t know, kids or something. Hey, is Elvis Costello free?”

In spite of that, I’d be lying if I said it didn’t mostly win me over, partially because I just enjoy Paul Rudd as an actor. I liked him in Friends (yes, I watched it), I liked him in Anchorman and The 40-Year-Old Virgin, and I like him here, as a lonely guy so desperate on New Year’s Eve, he’ll try to get with Courtney Love. (Who, I’m forced to admit, was good in this role. There, I said it. I feel dirty.) Plus Dave Chappelle could be funny reading aloud from a Denny’s menu, and Monica’s increasingly self-destructive antics as people continue failing to show up is good for some laughs. For that matter, so are (no spoilers) the various aftermaths of the party.

But the danger of the “small groups having separate but intertwining adventures” type of movie is that the characters rarely receive much in the way of development. With a few exceptions (Kevin and Lucy, maybe Cindy), none of them grow or change, and we don’t learn much about any aside from their particular problems… which for 9 out of 10 amount to “I need someone to sleep with tonight.” The few remaining issues run the gamut from relatable (wondering why your girlfriend dumped you) to not so much (being the world’s worst lover); but while most of the characters are funny, all are shallow, and you don’t walk away when the film is over cheering over a favorite character’s triumph or a rotten one’s comeuppance.

Still, it’s worth watching at least once, if for no other reason than the incredibly diverse cast who have since gone on to bigger and better things. Plus the soundtrack is killer (bought it years before seeing the movie), and you’ll get to see Ben Affleck making fun of himself, which only happens in Kevin Smith movies anymore. Also, Elvis Costello is in it, which instantly makes any movie 83% cooler (see: Austin Powers). It may not end up being your favorite cult movie of the year, but double it up with Swingers for a fun Friday night of pregaming. What more do you need?

Muttonchops: When you care enough to grow the very best.

Intermission!

  • Dude, maybe if all your paintings didn’t look like giant bajingos, you’d be better in the sack.
  • Jay Mohr has never played a likeable character. Ever.
  • There are many, many places I wouldn’t mind getting some… having said that, a filthy diner bathroom stall is pushing it.
  • At the end of the credits, you can hear Dave Chappelle’s thoughts on James Brown. At first I thought the filmmakers were mistaken in attributing “(What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love, and Understanding” to Nick Lowe, but I was wrong… apparently he wrote it, Elvis Costello covered it.
  • There were a number of things in this movie, like Miller Genuine Draft and some types of cars, that weren’t introduced until well after 1981.

Groovy Quotes

Hillary: I don’t want to look desperate.
Monica: Desperate? You could stand there naked with a mattress strapped to your back and still look like a vestal virgin.
Hillary: Do you think that would work?

Bartender: By the way, how do you like your eggs in the morning — scrambled or fertilized? Ha ha, I’m kidding!

David: I think it’s time to quit smoking.
Lucy: So then you’ll get grumpy and cranky and fat and you’ll whine and you’ll bitch and you’ll lose all your inspiration and you’ll blame me?

Lucy: You think I’m a slut!
Kevin: What? No.
Lucy: Yeah, you think I’m a big slut.
Kevin: I don’t think you’re a slut. A skanky little ho, maybe, but never a slut.

Cindy: A woman falls in love with you and you think that’s a curse?
Jack: You have no idea!
Cindy: No! I don’t! Because I think you’re lucky! I mean, there are some people who wait their entire lives for somebody to tell them they feel that way about them, and you, you just throw it away like it’s nothing, like it’s a minor inconvenience! Well let me tell you something, Jack — you are cursed. Just not the way you think you are.

If you liked this movie, try these:

  • The Wedding Singer
  • Go
  • Hellcab

One comment

  1. I am so glad you have reviewed this, because I found this dvd on a station platform about six years ago and have never watched it – mainly because I was confused by the title. You have inspired me, yet again, to try the unknown. Awesome sauce.

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