This is my entry in the Happy New Year Blogathon hosted by Movie Movie Blog Blog
It's New Year's Eve in 1981 in New York City. We look in on the lives of a dozen or so shallow people, all seemingly unrelated to each other, except that all of them have been invited to the same New Year's Eve party, being hosted by one of the most neurotic and insecure women to ever come down the pike.
Was I this shallow in 1981? I don't honestly remember. Looking back from a position 36 years later, however, I can honestly say I wouldn't want to spend more than 15-20 minutes with the females in this movie, and not any time at all with any of the guys. This must be the most self-obsessed entourage of folks I've ever seen in one place.
In 1981, I would have been just about the same age as the majority of the characters in this film. Granted I spent NYE 1981 in a town that would hardly register as a pimple on the nose of NYC. (I grew up in a town of only 700, and the nearest town in which there was a bar to ring in the new year had only about 25,000.) Whether there were people like this in the bar where I welcomed 1982, I couldn't say. But then I never really cared about relationships as much as I cared about just getting drunk and staying up til midnight. If you want to term that as "shallow", go ahead, but at least I wasn't trying to hook up for a one-night stand in the offing... And that's exactly what these characters are trying to do. None of them seem to have a handle on anything but living for the immediate moment, and then only in how it can help benefit themselves, regardless of who they are traveling with in their evening's journey.
The only really good part of the movie is the soundtrack. I loved the soundtrack to Dazed and Confused because it reminded me of my days in high school and I like the soundtrack to this movie because it reminds me of my young adult days when I used to frequent the nightclubs and dance halls. "I Want Candy" by Bow Wow Wow runs during the opening credits, and with rarely a miss, hits some pretty good heights with its music. Additionally there is some pretty good accompanying music written by the Mothersbaugh brothers from Devo.
As I did in my review of the aforementioned Dazed and Confused movie, I have decided to address each of the main characters individually, as trying to make sense heads or tails of the actual plot is somewhat fruitless.
200 Cigarettes (1999):
Monica (Martha Plimpton) has plans for a great New Year's Eve party. But she sits alone with her friend, Hillary (Catherine Kellner), bemoaning the fact that time is going by and no one has yet to show for the party she has planned. She becomes obsessed with the fact that the party will have no one show up and will be failure.
|Hillary and Monica|
|Val and Stephie|
Lucy (Courtney Love) and Kevin (Paul Rudd) are old friends. Kevin has been having a series of bad relationships, the most recent of which was with Ellie (Janeane Garofalo), and is down on the holiday, which also just happens to be his birthday. Why Lucy puts up with Kevin is a mystery, because his negativity grates on her, but she is determined to force him to have a good time.
|Lucy and Kevin|
Cindy (Kate Hudson), a ditzy blonde, has just had a one-night stand with Jack (Jay Mohr) and finds herself falling in love with him. Jack, for his part, puts up with Cindy, although he is at loss to know why she has become so enamored with him.
|Cindy and Jack|
Bridget (Nicole Parker) and Caitlyn (Angela Featherstone) attempt to ditch Eric (Brian McCardie), Bridget's current boyfriend with whom she is no longer interested. The excuse being that Eric is a bad lover. Eric, coincidentally, has also been a former boyfriend of Monica, who also ditched him because of the same lack of performance as a lover.
|Bridget and Caitlyn|
In the midst of all this is a Bartender, played by Ben Affleck, who by circumstances ends up interacting with all these characters. He is a pretty goofy character himself, so he manages to fit right in with the rest of the characters, and of course he gets invited to the same party.
The movie is sort of held together by the frequent appearance of a character called "Disco Cabbie" (Dave Chappelle), who dispenses advice on love and life and acts as a sort of narrator to the movie. He may be the most centered character in the film, and that's saying something, since he has the same thing on his mind that the rest of these slackers do. But at least he is grounded in the fact that he has a job to do and does it well.
Most of these people do end up fulfilling their New Year's Eve goals. But, really, the cast of characters seem to have no redeeming qualities. It's a wonder how all these people ended up together in the same boat. But then after watching them, you may decide they deserve each other after all. Personally I began to wonder how they all survived the 80's into today. One can only hope they eventually found happiness and success at some point, but the first goal would have had to have been to have found some maturity.
I honestly gave my best effort to like this movie, but as I said earlier, it was hard because I never really knew these kinds of people on an intimate basis. The main reason I wanted to have a rapport with it was because of the nostalgic factor, since I would have been the same age at the same time of the century as these characters. But unlike the aforementioned Dazed and Confused, I could not identify with any of the characters. Even Eric, whom I liked because he seems to have the same kind of hard luck with women that I did in the 80's is pretty unappealing.
Hope you all have a pleasant evening tomorrow night, whether you go to a party or just enjoy ringing the coming new year in the privacy of your own home. Happy New Year!