200 Cigarettes Movie Poster Image

200 Cigarettes

(i)

 

Ensemble cast drinks and flirts through lame New Year's Eve.
  • Rated: R
  • Genre: Comedy
  • Release Year: 1999
  • Running Time: 101 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Almost everyone in the film is depressed but trying to be happy and pretending to have a good time. In an effort to clarify the film's title, one character announces that "cigarettes are a shield against meaningful relationships."

Positive role models

Every person is out for him or herself. No one behaves in a responsible way, and no one considers the consequences of his or her behavior. Each character has one of the following two objectives: having a good time or finding someone to love him or her. Without exception, however, none of them has a clue about attaining those objectives, and most take one wrong turn after another.

Violence

A brief scuffle at a party. Gunshots heard off screen.

Sex

While there's little in the way of explicit sexual activity (an aborted sexual liaison in a bathroom stall, some passionate kissing) or nudity (a bare backside, some barely covered breasts), sex is a main topic of discussion throughout the film. Characters frequently obsess about their number of sexual partners, sexual prowess, virginity, vaginas, and who's sleeping with (or has slept with) whom. In addition, successive scenes show couples after casual sexual encounters. An artist's exhibit consists entirely of flowers that look like vaginas.

Language

Nonstop swearing. Countless "f--k"s in all forms, as well as "s--t," "vagina," "ass," "bitch," "teat," "bulls--t," "pissing," "ho," and more.

Consumerism

Heineken beer visible.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Everybody in this movie consumes alcohol. Out on New Year's Eve, characters drink in bars, on the street, at parties, in cafes. There's lots of drunkenness, passing out, and underage drinking (including use of fake IDs). Most characters also smoke in every scene. A cab driver smokes marijuana while he drives. A character carries a package for delivery throughout the film which someone thinks is heroin, but it's never clearly identified.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that despite the fact that 200 Cigarettes has an impressive cast of popular actors and actresses, the excessive coarse language and the characters' preoccupation with sex make it innappropriate for kids and tweens. Strong language is part of the natural flow of conversation, including "f--k" and "s--t." Most of the talk in this movie is about sex, though there's no extended or explicit sexual activity (partial nudity includes a glimpse of a bare backside). Drinking and smoking are pervasive throughout, including some underage drinking, drunkenness, passing out, and use of fake IDs.

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What's the story?

It's 1981. Assorted characters and stereotypes make their way, mostly in groups of two, to a New Year's Eve party in New York City. Among them are the lovelorn, the desperate, the naughty, the clumsy, the arrogant, the poser, and the sex-obsessed. Nobody wants to get to the party too early, so they stop off at bars or cafes to talk, whine, drink, smoke, flirt, fight, make out, and pick up strangers. Meanwhile, the hostess (Martha Plimpton) becomes increasingly panicked as the hours go by and no one shows up. It's a free-for-all of people on the edge of adulthood taking another fling at despair. Until the very last moment (and maybe even past that), it's never certain whose paths will cross, whose hearts will be broken, and who will hook up for another empty one-night stand.

Is it any good?

QUALITY

A stellar 1999 cast of soon-to-be stars (Ben Affleck, Kate Hudson, Christina Ricci, and more) are hopelessly trapped in this shrill, shallow film with a script that's neither funny nor intelligent. Nearly every scene is noisy, crowded, and overwrought. Some of the time very good actors struggle to give depth to one-note characters that have none; on other occasions, the actors let fly with over-the-top performances that sail in from sketch comedy venues or summer camp productions.

Finally, it's a movie that's very short on plot, even shorter on surprise and complexity (other than people running into each other repeatedly), and shorter still on satisfying resolution.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the alcohol consumption in this movie. In what ways have attitudes changed (or not) since 1981, when this movie is set? How can people who are old enough to drink decide how much is too much?

  • Cigarettes were cool in 1981. Because of new awareness and research, they're not so cool anymore. Do you agree or disagree with the statement that "cigarettes are a shield against meaningful relationships"?

  • Most of the characters in this film don't like themselves very much. What are some of the ways the filmmakers used to illustrate their unhappiness and insecurity? Did any of them change or learn anything throughout the course of the movie?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:February 26, 1999
DVD/Streaming release date:August 31, 1999
Cast:Courtney Love, Kate Hudson, Paul Rudd
Director:Risa Bramon Garcia
Studio:Dogstar Films
Genre:Comedy
Run time:101 minutes
MPAA rating:R
MPAA explanation:strong language and sexual content

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