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200 Cigarettes


200 Cigarettes

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On the surface, 200 Cigarettes looks like a good movie. It's got an interesting cast (Martha Plimpton, Jay Mohr, Courtney Love, the Affleck boys), an interesting setting (early-'80s New York), an interesting set-up (the characters converge on a big New Year's party), and a carefully selected soundtrack. But make no mistake: It's not a good movie at all. While it may portray the early '80s, 200 Cigarettes is more of a throwback to a period in the '70s when big-screen comedies like FM and Thank God It's Friday seemed to take all their cues from bad sitcoms, putting rice-paper-flat characters into vibrant settings and giving them nothing to do but exchange faux witty dialogue without the much-needed cues of a laugh track. Love and Paul Rudd, for example, play a pair of bickering friends who may or may not be perfect for each other. (Take a guess which turns out to be the case.) They spend the film's opening moments exchanging excruciatingly unfunny, perception-free thoughts on love, then proceed to carry on that way for the entire film. It's not really the actors' fault, however: No one could make their parts work. It would be nice to say the same of the high-schoolers played by Christina Ricci and her Now And Then co-star Gaby Hoffmann, but they spend the entire film braying at each other in thick, fake Long Island accents; their characters might as well be played by a pair of ill-tempered, extremely vocal ring-tailed lemurs. Even the over-the-top, please-don't-forget-these-are-the-'80s production design ceases to amuse pretty quickly. Dave Chappelle does manage some bright, most likely improvised moments as a love-man cabdriver, and the great Elvis Costello stops in for a cameo that's at least a half-second longer than his part in Spice World, but these few bright spots never make it possible to forget what an impossibly forgettable movie 200 Cigarettes is, however good it might look.