200 smokes, but no one has a light

Movie review

February 26, 1999|By Phoebe Flowers | Phoebe Flowers,KNIGHT RIDDER/TRIBUNE

It's New Year's Eve 1981. Do you know where the point is?

If you're casting director-turned-filmmaker Risa Bramon Garcia, the answer is probably no. Garcia, who has cast everything from "Fatal Attraction" to almost every Oliver Stone movie, has thrown together a clawing litter of Hot Young Stars -- Christina Ricci, Paul Rudd, Jay Mohr, Janeane Garofalo, Courtney Love and Ben and Casey Affleck -- for "200 Cigarettes." Elvis Costello even plays himself.

But all the staggeringly hip cast serves to do is bog things down. With about nine intersecting plot lines -- none particularly engaging -- there is too much pressure on everyone for this movie to feel anything but fleshy and dull.

The big night begins in the back of a cab, where Kevin (Rudd) is whining to Lucy (Love) about his breakup with performance artist Ellie (Garofalo). Elsewhere, Long Island teeny-boppers Val (Ricci) and Stephie (Gaby Hoffmann) have ventured into the East Village to find a party being thrown by Monica (Martha Plimpton).

Monica, an utter waste of energy for the enduring Plimpton, is ostensibly the glue holding the movie together -- everyone is eventually supposed to end up at her party. The problem is, none of it matters. Because there are so many, none of the individual segments even stands out -- it's just an endless, insufferable parade of topical pop songs and cute chirping. When Courtney Love, lead singer of Hole and professional termagant, is one of the least irritating elements, you know something is amiss.

`200 Cigarettes'

Starring Courtney Love, Christina Ricci, Ben Affleck

Directed by Risa Bramon Garcia

Released by Paramount

Rated R (strong language, sexual content)

Running time: 97 minutes

Sun score: *

Pub Date: 2/26/99

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