200 Cigarettes (1999)

This is one of those smaller, amusing-but-not-exactly-funny ensemble comedies that used to be made with some regularity in the ’90s (think “Trojan War” or “SubUrbia”), and while it’s not particularly well remembered, I have to admit I have a soft spot for it. I don’t know precisely what it is about “200 Cigarettes” that I enjoy so much, because, well, it’s not exactly an underrated masterpiece: It’s not particularly witty or funny, there aren’t many likable characters and it doesn’t really go anywhere, but there’s an understated charm and warmth throughout. It’s also fascinating to watch a movie filled with so many recognizable faces at various stages of their careers, all of whom breeze easily through the proceedings like nothing could be more fun. Among the many highlights, there’s the always-welcome Martha Plimpton displaying some impeccable comedic timing, a pre-fame Kate Hudson lighting up each screen she’s in with striking charisma, not to mention the unlikely duo of Paul Rudd and Courtney Love sharing striking chemistry as longtime friends. The real standouts, however, are probably Christina Ricci and Gaby Hoffmann, strolling through the movie like comedic livewires thanks to perfectly exaggerated Ronkonkoma accents and cartoonishly manic energy. So like I said, it’s not great, but it’s one of those movies I like to revisit once in a while and it never fails to entertain me.

Rating: ★★★ (out of 5)

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