200 Cigarettes

on February 26, 1999 by Melissa Morrison
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"200 Cigarettes" is a pleasing swirl of stories, all set on New Year's Eve 1981, though it probably could have survived on the gimmick of one of its vignettes: Two Long Island Madonna wannabes accidentally end up in an East Village punk club. Watching actresses Christina Ricci ("The Opposite of Sex") and Gaby Hoffmann ("Everyone Says I Love You") in crinolines and hubcap-sized earrings mix it up with Mohawk types is enough of a plot hook.
   It's icing on the cake, then, to get to see the awkward first post-virgin date of Cindy (Kate Hudson, every bit a chip off mom Goldie Hawn's block, crooked grin and all) and her deflowerer, Jack ("Playing By Heart's" Jay Mohr); and the spiky repartee between slutty, brash-talking Lucy ("The People vs. Larry Flynt's" Courtney Love) and her morose buddy Kevin (the wonderful Paul Rudd of "The Object of My Affection").
   There are more stories, and more welcome faces (among them "Shakespeare In Love's" Ben Affleck, "Clay Pigeons'" Janeane Garofalo, "The Wedding Singer's" Angela Featherstone, "Pecker's" Martha Plimpton, and "Half Baked's" Dave Chappelle). The cast's naturalness overcomes some stilted dialogue and those plot-convenient coincidences that are unlikely in a place the size of Manhattan.
   Director Risa Bramon Garcia orchestrates her New Wave symphony deftly, making each character distinctive--no mean feat when you divide the movie's running time by the number of its characters. She and writer Shana Larsen also keep the '80s gimmicks--the Reagan references, the bizarre fashions, the MTV hits--from overwhelming the story-telling, though they have enough of a presence to make things fun to watch. Starring Ben Affleck, Dave Chappelle, Courtney Love and Christina Ricci. Directed by Risa Bramon Garcia. Written by Shana Larsen. Produced by Cecilia Kate Roque, Andre Lamal and Steven L. Bernstein. A Paramount release. Comedy. Rated R for strong language and sexual content. Running time: 96 min.
Tags: Dave Chappelle, Courtney Love, Christina Ricci, Ben Affleck, Risa Bramon Garcia, New Year's, ensemble, Kate Hudson, Paul Rudd, Martha Plimpton, Janeane Garofalo, Gaby Hoffmann
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