1999, Movies

200 Cigarettes (1999, Risa Bramon Garcia)

This is a mildly amusing and very ’90s vignette film about a New Year’s Eve party in 1981. It features a number of famous and ’90s famous actors (and a couple of musicians). It’s one of those talky ’90s films that almost feels stagey except that it is (partially) location-shot.

Like a lot of these vignette films, the film’s strength varies by the vignettes. Some of them work better than others and some are funnier than others. The funniest, if perhaps the least believable, is the Kate Hudson-Jay Mohr second date, which is all-out slapstick. Hudson is cast completely against type and there are numerous pratfalls. It’s the one that provided the most laughs, even if Mohr seems miscast for his character’s arc.

The main story features Paul Rudd and Courtney Love. Both are good – and required to do the most – but the continuity gets messy (as it does elsewhere in the film). Rudd’s character is absolutely hammered early in the evening and then Love’s character is somewhat later, but both are fine later. This is inexplicable and the film just goes on. There are other instances but this was the one that stuck out.

The film feels very much of its time, not just with the vignettes and how talky it is. One example is the wise black man trope, embodied here by Dave Chappelle’s cab driver. He’s a little less pure than the usual cliché – he hits on a woman and is rejected – but he still helps a lot of people and is one of only two African American members of the cast (and the other can pass). That’s probably the most egregious example but there’s an air of deja vu to a number of the scenes and tropes.

The music doesn’t always match the time, too. Mostly it does, but a few times Jenn and I would turn to each other and wonder aloud if the song had been out yet. The most notable moment is the Girls Vs. Boys cameo. GVSB doesn’t sound remotely 1981 to my ears. I guess someone in 1999 thought they sounded more ’80s than other alternative rock bands (which is funny given where indie rock went in the aughts).

I will say, I did enjoy myself more than I thought I would. And I was happy to watch a New Year’s Eve film on New Year’s Eve.

6/10 which is higher than the film’s average on IMDB, which makes me laugh

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