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Movie Review: 200 Cigarettes

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Despite the trove of talent, only a handful of performances stand out. Love and Rudd kindle a pleasant chemistry, while sparkly newcomer Hudson (Goldie Hawn's daughter) is a face to watch. Otherwise, Hoffman and Ricci's nasally challenged routine sounds like something out of a bad school play, and the rest of the cast struggles with blandly archetypal assignments. Sure, it's fun to catch Elvis Costello in a cameo, but several seconds of the bespectacled rocker in no way justifies the rest of this mess.

Indeed, about the only thing Garcia gets right in this patently unfunny paean to the '80s is the mousse-hardened 'dos. Moreover, the effort is symptomatic of independent filmmaking's current blight: smug, self-conscious comedies that boast killer soundtracks (Costello, Blondie and The Cars contribute here) but neglect elements such as, oh, plot and characterization. Meanwhile, when all the aren't-we-ironic moments run out, the film stoops to banal slapstick and gross-out humor to push a laugh.

Still, 200 Cigarettes's biggest surprise is that it's written and directed by women (Shana Larsen penned the script). Several scenes, in fact, skirt outright misogyny: Hudson's character ends up on her back, spread-legged, in a pile of dog doo; likewise, Featherstone and Parker's floozies jettison any iota of dignity the minute a man circles. There's even a joke about the marketability of vaginas.

The lesson here? Unlike Monica's New Year's party, it's not enough that a crowd of familiar faces shows. In the end, the cast of 200 Cigarettes may ignite the credits, but the hype just adds up to a lot of smoke.


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