October 14, 2001 -- "200 Cigarettes" is a slight, but enjoyable romantic romp set in New York City on New Year's Eve, 1981. The film follows a number of different story lines which later converge, all of them involving young people in search of sex and love. Like Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream," the story concludes that love makes fools of us all. I saw this film on VHS tape.
We see a blabby cabby (David Chappelle of "Blue Streak"), the hostess of a lost party (Martha Plimpton of "Pecker"), Jack, a guy who is a woman magnet (Jay Mohr of "Go"), a romantic bartender (Ben Affleck of "Good Will Hunting") and numerous other creatures of the night. There are plenty of talented actors in this movie, including Kate Hudson, Janeane Garofalo of "Mystery Men," Christina Ricci of "The Opposite of Sex," Ben's brother, Casey Affleck of "Good Will Hunting" and Courtney Love of "The People Vs. Larry Flynt."
Casey Affleck and Love play Tom and Lucy, a couple who are friends, but not lovers. Love usually plays darker, more edgy characters, but this time she plays a woman full of life and warmth. There is a bit of sadness in her eyes, and she seems terribly vulnerable beneath an exterior of bravado, but she at least seems to be capable of joy. It is a fine performance by Love. Affleck plays a very irritating character who seems to be mad at the world. Somehow this wounded pair, afraid of the pain of love, makes an appealing couple. Kate Hudson looks a lot different in this film than she did in "Almost Famous." She doesn't seem as vulnerable. Garofalo looks fabulous in this film.
Director Risa Bramon Garcia and writer Shana Larsen manage to mesh all these different story lines together fairly well. While there is some romance, the story is not sentimental; we see human nature, warts and all. Jay Mohr, who plays Jack, is a character who is not comfortable with the fact that women keep falling in love with him. He views it as a curse, somehow. Another character is shattered to find out he is an inadequate lover. Plimpton, plays Monica, a woman who meets the man of her dreams, but doesn't remember anything because she was unconscious when it happened. You could describe the story as bittersweet, but it is more bitter than sweet. Even so, it is a funny film, and the film does show a fondness for many of the characters. This film rates a C+.
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