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Review: '200 Cigarettes' may be hazardous to your health

Web posted on:
Friday, February 26, 1999 4:01:44 PM EST

By Reviewer Paul Clinton

(CNN) -- There is no Surgeon General's warning on the new film "200 Cigarettes," but there probably should be, even though watching the film isn't harmful to your health, just insulting to your intelligence.

This film feels like an endless road to nowhere. But there are enough young Hollywood heartthrobs in "200 Cigarettes" to clog an artery.

Unfortunately, with only a few exceptions, they all play one-dimensional cartoon characters in this incredibly boring, poorly written, half-conceived, self-serving film. And you should hear what I really think!

Paul's Pix: "200 Cigarettes"
Windows Media 28K 80K

Theatrical preview for "200 Cigarettes
Real 28K 80K
Windows Media 28K 80K

The basic plot, assuming there is one, has various couples preparing for New Year's Eve 1981 in Manhattan. Courtney Love and Paul Rudd play one extremely annoying pair who are best friends and end up making love -- in a toilet stall. It doesn't get any better than this, folks.

Christina Ricci and Gaby Hoffmann play two girls from Long GUY-land with accents from hell. They're being pursued by two punk rockers, played by Casey Affleck and Guillermo Diaz. Big brother Ben Affleck plays a hapless bartender who's picked up, then dumped by half the women in the film.

Film cries out for help

Which brings us to Jay Mohr and Kate Hudson. He bedded her the night before and she lost her virginity. Now he's suffering from some werid fascination as to why she chose him for the task of relieving herself of her innocence.

Eventually the whole motley crew converges at a party being held by Martha Plimpton and her best friend, played by Catherine Kellner -- who is wearing a wig that makes her look like an aging drag queen. At one point Plimpton's character says, "Help me out here. I'm hanging by a thread." So is this movie.

And don't get me started on the ending. This film doesn't end. It's just evaporates. It seemed like the actors were having a contest to see who's character could be more cartoony and obnoxious. Let's call it a six-way tie.

The only one that survives this hideous exercise in bad moviemaking is Kate Hudson, daughter of Goldie Hawn. She's touching and delightfully giddy (maybe acting ability is genetic) as the young girl trying to find love in all the wrong places.

The one other bright note is that the sound track, full of vintage tunes from the late '70s, isn't bad. But this is not surprising since the film is co-produced by MTV.

This is the debut film for casting agent turned director Risa Bramon Garcia. She has a long history with filmmaker Oliver Stone and cast many of his movies, including "JFK," "Born on the Fourth of July" and "The Doors." But now she's a director -- hello! Did she read this script? First-time screenwriter Shana Larsen has a lot to learn about character development and structure.

Ultimately I find it remarkable that a former casting agent would find these performances acceptable in any way, shape, or form. Of course, acting in this sorry mess is an impossible uphill battle that would defeat anyone.

"200 Cigarettes" runs for 101 very long minutes. Rated R for strong language and sexual content.

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Official '200 Cigarettes' site
Paramount Pictures
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