[Screen It]


(1999) (Paul Rudd, Martha Plimpton) (R)

Blood/Gore Disrespectful/
Bad Attitude
Tense Scenes
Heavy Minor Moderate None Minor
Mild None None None Extreme
Smoking Tense Family
Topics To
Talk About
Heavy Extreme None Moderate Minor

Romantic Comedy: Several friends and couples try to sort out their romances and friendships while having a good time and hoping they have dates as they await the new year in 1981 New York.
It's New Year's Eve in 1981 New York, and several friends and couples are preparing to attend a party thrown by Monica (MARTHA PLIMPTON), an East Village resident who's upset that so far only her friend Hillary (CATHERINE KELLNER) has shown up.

When Hillary decides she's had enough of Monica's neurotic party fears, she leaves, but not before Monica promises her that she gets first dibs on her former boyfriend, Eric (BRIAN McCARDIE). An artist with a penchant for painting what looks like female body parts, Eric has his own problems as his latest girlfriend, Bridget (NICOLE PARKER), has decided to dump him and spend the evening partying with her friend Caitlyn (ANGELA FEATHERSTONE), and pursuing a local bartender (BEN AFFLECK).

Also headed for the party are Kevin (PAUL RUDD) and Lucy (COURTNEY LOVE), two dateless friends, who discuss whether they should have sex after his performance artist girlfriend, Ellie (JANEANE GAROFALO) has just dumped him.

Jack (JAY MOHR) and Cindy (KATE HUDSON) don't have that problem, since they've just had sex the night before, she for the first time. Although he's normally a love 'em and leave 'em kind of guy, Jack sticks around trying to figure out why this accident prone woman chose him for her first time.

Meanwhile, Monica's cousin Val (CHRISTINA RICCI) and her fellow Long Island teenager friend Stephie (GABY HOFFMAN), try to make their way to the party. They get lost, however, and must then contend with several menacing looking punk rockers, Tom (CASEY AFFLECK) and Dave (GUILLERMO DIAZ) who are following them.

As midnight approaches and Monica begins to become undone over her seemingly forgotten party, the friends and couples -- chauffeured to and from their destinations by an optimistic cabbie (DAVID CHAPPELLE) -- try to sort out their lives and relationships.

With the 1980's being hip once again, and with such a large and relatively young cast, many teens may be drawn to this picture.
For strong language and sexual content.
  • BEN AFFLECK plays a law student/bartender who tries to put the moves on several women.
  • CASEY AFFLECK plays a punk rocker who falls for Val and is presumably also some sort of drug courier.
  • DAVE CHAPPELLE plays the "all knowing" cabbie who spouts advice and wisdom to his passengers (and also smokes a joint).
  • GUILLERMO DIAZ plays Tom's buddy and presumed fellow drug courier.
  • ANGELA FEATHERSTONE plays Bridget's friend who drinks and smokes some.
  • JANEANE GAROFALO plays a little seen performance artist who ends up in bed with a stranger.
  • GABY HOFFMAN plays Val's Long Island girlfriend who smokes and cusses a lot.
  • KATE HUDSON plays a klutzy woman who just lost her virginity the night before to Jack.
  • CATHERINE KELLNER plays Monica's party friend.
  • COURTNEY LOVE plays Kevin's uninhibited friend who drinks, smokes, cusses some, and dares him to have sex with her in a bathroom stall.
  • BRIAN McCARDIE plays an artist known for being lousy in bed (although he apparently beds many women).
  • JAY MOHR plays a love 'em and leave 'em guy who helps Cindy lose her virginity (but didn't know that at the time).
  • NICOLE PARKER plays a woman who breaks up with Eric and then pursues the bartender.
  • MARTHA PLIMPTON plays the woman giving the party who's so upset that no one has shown up, drinks herself into unconsciousness.
  • CHRISTINA RICCI plays Monica's Long Island cousin who makes out with several guys while on her way to the party.
  • PAUL RUDD plays a bitter man who drinks, smokes, cusses, has just broken up with Ellie, and nearly has sex with Lucy in a bathroom stall.


    OUR TAKE: 4 out of 10
    Oddly and loosely titled for its stretched metaphor of people using cigarettes as a buffer between themselves and others, "200 Cigarettes" will probably best be remembered for its novice director's ability to assemble such a large and talented cast of current or up and coming rising stars.

    Of course it doesn't hurt that Risa Bramon Garcia used to be a casting director, but despite her press kit statement that she's trying to replicate the magic and success of "Diner" and "American Graffiti" (both containing large casts of young stars) this film comes nowhere near either of those two classics as its concept and execution just aren't as interesting or as well-done.

    While it offers a few funny moments and some decent comic performances from a few of its stars, the film's plot -- written by fellow newcomer Shana Larsen -- is too scattered and unwieldy, contains a few too many characters, and doesn't offer the snappy, intelligent dialogue found in other similarly set films such as Whit Stillman's "The Last Days of Disco." As such, and despite the fact that I thought I'd really like the film, it never came across as much more than moderately interesting or entertaining.

    Feeling like a mix of "The Wedding Singer" (for its retro '80's soundtrack) and an MTV version of Stillman's film (which should come as no surprise since that cable channel's theatrical arm is behind this production), the film should have no problem holding most viewers' interest simply because of the sheer number of subplots running through it. That quantitative factor, however, proves to be the film's undoing.

    Since the film never focuses on any of the characters for more than a few minutes at a time, we never get to really know any of them, and as a direct result, we never really care about them, or their individual or collective desires and/or plights.

    While most everyone can empathize with the characters' needs to be with someone on New Year's Eve (however romantically illogical that may be), it doesn't help that we also don't end up liking most of the characters. Although Christina Ricci ("The Opposite of Sex") and Gabby Hoffman ("Now and Then") have those "Lawng Eye-land" accents down pat, their characters are annoying, as are those inhabited by Nicole Parker ("Boogie Nights"), Angela Featherstone ("Zero Effect") and Paul Rudd ("Clueless").

    The characters played by Courtney Love ("The People vs. Larry Flynt) and Jay Mohr ("Picture Perfect" aren't very likeable either, but at least the performers give them a spunky attitude and Love continues to prove -- to most everyone's surprise -- that she can act and do it quite well (at least in these sorts of roles).

    The best parts, however, are reserved for a trio of actresses that lighten what's otherwise a mediocre picture. The always dependable Janeane Garofalo ("The Truth About Cats and Dogs") does her normal irritated woman shtick, but it's just an enjoyable as before, while Kate Hudson (making her big screen debut) has a fun time playing, and is funny as, the klutzy date.

    It's Martha Plimpton ("Beautiful Girls"), however, who steals the show. While some may see her neurotic and apparently doomed to failure party host character as a Joan Cusack ("In & Out") rip- off performance, I tend to believe that she was simply inspired by Cusack, and then took the character to new heights. The only complaint is that she receives limited screen time, but when she's there, the results are often downright hilarious.

    The rest of the proceedings, however, are rather mundane and mediocre as they limp along toward the midnight hour. Although the revelation the next morning of who eventually paired with whom offers a few fleeting humorous moments, for the most part the film simply comes to an end as if the allotted time ran out instead of the story naturally coming to a worthy conclusion.

    While the early '80's-based soundtrack appropriately pumps up the volume and inspires its own mood -- and allows for a fun cameo by performer Elvis Costello -- it alone can't save the film. Despite a few fun characters and moments, the film feels like something of the letdown occasionally felt (and as portrayed in the story) after a momentous buildup to an event like New Year's Eve. As such, we give "200 Cigarettes" a 4 out of 10.

    Here's a brief summary of the content found in this R-rated film. Profanity is extreme with nearly 40 "f" words and an assortment of other words, phrases and religious phrases. Many sexual encounters are implied, we hear the end of one, and see an aborted one in a bathroom stall. Sexually related discussions also occur.

    Most of the characters smoke during the film, and many of them drink -- some to the point of being passed out. Beyond that and some bad attitudes, however, most of the other categories have little or nothing in the way of major objectionable content. Nonetheless, and since this film may appeal to teens, you might want to take a closer look at what's been listed should you be concerned about its appropriateness for someone in your home.

  • The cabbie smokes a joint.
  • Kevin drinks from a brown paper bag while in a cab.
  • People drink in the backgrounds of shots set in bars or parties.
  • Kevin and Lucy have drinks, and she later comments that she can't believe how drunk she is.
  • Hillary pours herself a drink at Monica's party.
  • Cindy has wine at a pool table (that she spills) and later has wine with dinner.
  • Bridget and Caitlyn have drinks in a bar.
  • Eric has a beer at Monica's party.
  • Tom and Dave carry a six-pack of beer, as well as a small package that presumably contains drugs that they're to deliver to someone else (although we never see the contents).
  • Monica spikes the eggnog with lots of liquor.
  • The bartender (off work) brings over drinks for himself and Bridget and Caitlyn.
  • Eric pours himself some liquor (spilling some as if he's already a bit intoxicated) and then quickly downs that shot.
  • A woman has a beer.
  • We see Monica drinking wine and then even more wine until she's eventually passed out drunk.
  • We also see Dave who's passed out from partying too much.
  • The next morning Monica finds many empty beer bottles throughout her apartment as well as a passed out man.
  • When asked if she has a hangover, one of the characters says no, that she thinks she's still drunk.
  • We see some dog excrement on the back of Cindy's coat after she fell on the street and landed in it.
  • We see some guy on the street stealing a battery from a car.
  • Jack is a love 'em and leave 'em type of guy, and hates when women say that they're in love with after they've had sex. We later see that he's had sex with Val, an underage girl (apparently not knowing her age), and that he lied to another woman about his plans for New Year's Eve.
  • Some viewers may see some of the characters' attitudes/involvement with casual sex as having some of both.
  • None.
  • Although we don't see anything, we hear several gunshots on the street in one scene.
  • Phrases: "Sh*thole," "We're in deep sh*t," "Pissing," "Sucks," "Bitch," "Slut," "Ho" (whore), "Jerk," "Screwed up" and "Go to hell."
  • Val mentions that she and Stephie have fake I.D.s.
  • We see some heavily tattooed men in a bar, as well as people with punk rock haircuts (Mohawks and dyed hair).
  • None.
  • None.
  • None.
  • At least 38 "f" words (7 used sexually, 1 used with "mother"), 21 "s" words, 3 asses (2 used with "hole"), 2 damns, 2 hells, and 17 uses of "Oh my God," 10 each of "Oh God" and "Jesus," 3 of "G-damn," and 2 uses each of "God" and "For Christ's sakes" as exclamations.
  • The cabbie occasionally comments on getting some "booty."
  • Val, Bridget and Caitlyn show varying amounts of cleavage.
  • Cindy tells the cabbie about having gone home with Jack the night before (and we later learn that it was there that she lost her virginity). After he persistently tries to figure out why she chose him, she finally says that it could have been anyone and that she "just wanted to get it over with."
  • It's mentioned that Eric's artwork consists of "big, abstract vaginas" and we later see a few of those pieces (although as someone else mentions, they could also be flowers).
  • Bridget mentions that Eric was bad in bed, and later Monica (another of his previous girlfriends) says the same (saying he was the worst lover she ever had, even counting high school).
  • Monica tells Hillary that she could stand there naked with a mattress strapped to her back and would still look like the vestal virgin.
  • Lucy tells Kevin that he should have sex on his birthday. Kevin then asks if she's offering herself to him, and she says that she isn't, but that if things don't work out between her and the bartender, then that's her backup plan. Kevin then states that he believes she's "f*cked many men" and they finally agree to have sex in a bathroom stall after she says, "I dare you to f*ck me."
  • We then see Kevin and Lucy in that bathroom stall making out and beginning to remove their clothes. We see her in her bra (with some cleavage) and he feels her breast, but their close quarters cause them to fumble and stumble about (played for laughs) until they're interrupted by Ellie before anything else happens (when we then see Kevin pulling up his pants).
  • The bartender tells a woman that their clothes would look good together on his floor and then asks her how she likes her eggs the next morning, scrambled or fertilized.
  • We see Val French kissing several guys at a punk rock bar/party.
  • The cabbie propositions to Ellie that they pull over the cab and celebrate their personal strength together (have sex), but she gets out of the cab and leaves.
  • Talking to Monica about why he's supposedly so bad in bed, Eric says that sex is just two people in bed "getting off" and then tells her to take off her dress and he'll prove that he's not inadequate and will have her on "your hands and knees, begging for mercy." He then takes his shirt off as he grabs Monica, but they're interrupted by Hillary.
  • Trying to reconcile with Lucy, Kevin tells her, "I dare you to f*ck me," but she turns him down stating that she has to stop having sex with people who don't care about her.
  • We hear the ending sounds of a couple having sex but all we see is the top part of Eric's butt after they're done. We then see Hillary getting dressed right away (after seeing her in her nightie with some cleavage) and as she leaves she states that the sex wasn't good at all.
  • At the end of the movie we see many couples waking up or in bed together, heavily suggesting that they had sex the night before (including one couple that appears to have used/be using handcuffs, etc...).
  • There's a joke about a character being a necrophiliac (of carrying around the passed out Monica like she's dead).
  • A comment is made about a transvestite who was at the party and that the "woman" had a penis.
  • Many of the characters smoke several times during the movie (including Kevin, Stephie, Bridget, Eric and Lucy) while others smoke once or twice (such as Caitlyn, Hillary, the bartender, Monica and Ellie).
  • Other background characters smoke in bars and at parties.
  • None.
  • The casual sex depicted at the end of the movie (where many of the characters end up in bed with others and not always the ones with which they started).
  • The belief stated by several characters that you always have to have a date for big events such as New Year's Eve.
  • Kevin briefly pushes some other men in a bar.
  • Cindy accidently breaks the bar light above a pool table, and later knocks over items and a person in a restaurant.

  • Reviewed February 18, 1999 /Posted February 26, 1999

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