200 Cigarettes is less like the prepared life most movies offer and more the complete confusions most of us deal with on a daily basis.
When researching 200 cigarettes, I noticed that the usual critics either loved this film of hated it. Box-office magazine gave it 3 and a half stars, Roger Ebert only a half a star. With such a difference I had to check out 200 cigarettes for myself. In the end, I was glad I did.
As stated above, 200 cigarettes is a peek of life as it all too often appears to us, confused, wandering, seemingly without structure.
Director Risa Garcia must have worked incredible hard on presenting a comedy that appears to have no structure but in fact is so nicely put together that you seem to forget the helter skelter approach.
The story takes place on New Year’s eve 1981. The evening’s activities take place in the East Village. This place is normally out of touch with reality and on New Year’s eve, I can actually believe these events took place as shown.
I have spent several New Year’s eves in the East Village about the time this takes place. 200 Cigarettes brought back some memories I have not confronted in over a decade. In doing so it brought a smile to my face!
Over the first half-hour of 200 cigarettes we peek in on the lives of several groups of people. Winding his way between these characters is the disco cab driver played by Dave Chappelle.
He shows up, spouts his views on life, love or whatever subject is being discussed in his cab and moves on, an outsider trying desperately to get into the events that buzz through his cab.
Then there is Kevin (Paul Rudd) and his best friend Lucy (Courtney Love). Kevin was just dumped by his girl friend Ellile (Janeane Garofalo). Kevin is also depressed because this also happens to be his birthday.
Then there are two young women, Kaitlyn (Angela Featherstone) and Bridget (Nicole Parker) out looking for sex before the new year. Their fear is if they go home alone on New Year’s they will be alone and cursed for the next year.
Then there are two high school girls from Long Island, Val (Christina Ricci) and Stephie (Gabby Hoffman). The real life friendship between these two shines through in 200 Cigarettes with heavily accented dialogue.
Stephie is afraid to cross Avenue B since she heard about a girl getting raped there once.
Add to this Val’s cousin Monica (Martha Plimpton) who is trying to give a party to show the world that everyone does not hate her. She is desperate to have people come to this party and have fun. She is so concerned about setting up the party she winds up unconscious by the time it finally gets started.
Perhaps one of the best sets of characters in the wild mix of 200 cigarettes is Jack (Jay Mohr) and his date, Cindy (Kate Hudson). Cindy just lost her virginity to Jack and is now enamored of him. He, on the other hand, has a fear of commitment.
What makes the segments with these two characters so special is Kate Hudson. The daughter of Goldie Hawn, she has definitely inherited her mother’s flair for physical comedy. The crooked smile, the little giggle, the sparkle in the eyes all are so reminiscent of Goldie Hawn but Kate Hudson manages to put her own special spin on it all.
Cindy is clumsy. What happens to her in this one night has, in part, happened to us all at one time or another. We laugh because we understand.
Well, the focus of all these stories to get to this ‘great party’ that everyone has heard of. The party is the one being thrown by Monica but because of all that is going on it does not get started until the last minute.
Unlike life, the end ties up all the loose ends and happy endings are the rule. Still, the getting there is where the enjoyment occurs and isn’t this what we want from life? A good time getting through all the strangeness!
The 200 cigarettes DVD is well done. There are no extras on the disc but the audio and video are up to contemporary standards.
Nothing serious in 200 Cigarettes but and hour and forty minutes of enjoying yourself.
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