MOST MOVIES GO TO great pains to make their characters likable and at least apparently soulful. The new comedy 200 Cigarettes, on the other hand, is just as aggressive about making its entire ensemble shallow and obnoxious. When was the last time you saw a movie about the tug and play of romance in which the most sympathetic character was played by Courtney Love? (Not recently—and it's damn refreshing not to have to care about these people.)
directed by Risa Bramon Garcia
starring Courtney Love, Paul Rudd, Martha Plimpton, Christina Ricci
opens 2/26 at Pacific Place, Varsity
It's New Year's Eve 1981, which allows the movie to put Peaches and Herb, Bow Wow Wow, and the theme from Ice Castles on its soundtrack. Martha Plimpton is flipping out because she's convinced no one is going to come to her party. And maybe no one will; all the people she's invited are busy wandering the streets of New York, looking for someone to love or at least sleep with, lest they be cursed for the rest of the year. The impending guests include Paul Rudd (with some serious sideburns) and Courtney Love, playing two good friends who might get a bit friendlier; David Chapelle as a disco-playing cab driver dispensing advice to everyone; Christina Ricci and Gaby Hoffman dressed in Day-Glo colors and sporting exaggerated Long Island accents; and a host of others, all kind of scatterbrained, self-obsessed, and attractive in an early-'80s-fashion-victim kind of way. Their meanderings sustain a pleasant level of froth without bothering to be funny. (One exception is a rant from Janeane Garafolo, who livens up any movie she's in with her acid tongue; when is someone going to let her be this sharp in a leading role?)
Though flimsy, 200 Cigarettes does generate a palpable mood of what it's like to be young, stupid, and careless about waking up next to someone you wouldn't want to have breakfast with. Which is sort of how you feel about the movie itself; it was fun for a couple of hours, but when it's over, you'll never think about it again.