What parents need to know
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.
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?
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?