200 Cigarettes (1999)

Directed by Risa Bramon Garcia
Written by Shana Larsen
Starring Paul Rudd, Courtney Love, Ben Affleck, Dave Chappelle, Christina Ricci

My Advice: Wait for Cable.

New York City, on the eve of 1982.  Kevin (Rudd) is depressed because Ellie (Janeane Garofalo) broke up with him, leaving him on New Year's with his good friend Lucy (Love).  Jack (Jay Mohr) is on the date from hell with Cindy (Kate Hudson).   Val (Ricci) and Stephanie (Gaby Hoffmann) are searching the city desperately trying to find a surgeon to perform an accentectomy.  Monica (Martha Plimpton) is hosting a party and everyone's trying to get there, with transportation provided by a disco cabbie (Chappelle) and booze poured by a unlucky at love bartender (Ben Affleck).

Sound like Robert Altman directing a Cameron Crowe-rejected screenplay while on speed?  Yes, and it seems that way when on the screen.  And no, to answer your question that is not necessarily a good thing.  For the most part, none of the sixteen major characters are interesting or memorable, with the exception of Chappelle's cabbie, who wants to make sure the vibes in his cab stay good, and Garofalo's Ellie, whose rant in regards to men is the highpoint of the movie.  And being set in the 80's seems so arbitrary that other than the wardrobe and music, there's virtually nothing to distinguish what's taking place from any other point in recent history.  It's almost as though they had the musical rights and the clothes sitting around and decided to sanction a screenplay to fit them. 

Oh yes, well, there are some good moments.  Ben Affleck's bartender getting ditched by women every other scene was amusing, and a certain rock star's cameo is priceless, but for the most part it's an hour plus of vapid dialogue and boring whiny stories as all of the characters try to find a date and make it to Monica's party.  I won't give anything away, as if there was anything to give, but be aware that few of the plot lines achieve resolution, which is okay, since they weren't going anywhere interesting anyway.

The saving grace of the film is the section right before the credits but we've had to wade through such a lame movie to get to it, it's a high price to pay for a short but funny section.  A good thing to watch at two in the morning when you can't sleep.  It'll put you right out.

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