The Grim Reaper Society

Keeping the human population down for over 600 years

Feb 1999
The Reaper Reviews: “200 Cigarettes”
Posted in Tobacco by admin at 5:57 pm | No Comments »

I first saw an ad on TV for “200 Cigarettes” about a week ago, and I was very anxiously looking forward to the premiere. A movie with a title like this would have to be well worth seeing.

My first disappointment was that it was rated PG, which means that kids under 14 can’t get in without their parents. This excludes that vital pre-teen market, the ones who need to practice smoking in front of a mirror to develop the “look” that they want. They’re being deprived of a valuable educational experience here.

The next disappointment was that there were only 77 cigarettes (and one joint) shown in the film. Why did the producers feel a need to over-hype it? “77 Cigarettes” would still be a catchy title. “77 Cigarettes and a Joint” might be even catchier.

The story takes place on New Year’s Eve, 1981, in the Soho area of New York City. In the late 1970’s, Soho was an area to hang out for punks, New Wavers, and the pseudo-hip, and this culture is basically what this film is about. (Elvis Costello put together the music for it, and MTV paid for it.) All of the characters are 20-something and losers of some sort, except for one savvy cab driver who delights in making fun of them.

The plot is basically a woman who is having a New Year’s Eve party and is afraid that no one will show up, because she doesn’t have any friends. There’s a couple of women who want to attend, but don’t have the correct address. There’s a couple who are on their second date, and they have difficulty getting to this party because the woman keeps knocking things over, falling down, etc.

Sounds intense, doesn’t it? This film actually has a weaker plot than “St. Elmo’s Fire”, and the music isn’t as good. It also reminded me of a porno film, except that there was no nudity, and no on-camera sex.

On top of that, there was no “product placement” at all. How can viewers develop brand loyalty if you don’t have packs of Marlboros, Virginia Slims, and Camels on screen at every opportunity?

Somewhere close to the end (and the only reason I stayed around this long was to complete the on-screen cigarette count), one of the characters says, “People use their cigarettes to protect themselves from emotional interaction with other people”, and says he’s going to quit smoking. What? I guess that by this time, the EmptyV people knew that they weren’t getting the product placement money from Philip Morris, no doubt because the PM people realized that very few 14-year-olds would want to use any of the characters in this film (other than the taxi driver, who smokes pot instead of tobacco) as role models.

The Reaper’s recommendation is, if you stay home and watch EmptyV, it will be just as entertaining as this movie was, and you will save $7.50. (enough to buy 30 cigarettes. Or 60 cigarettes, if you live in Ontario or Quebec.) Better yet, stay home and watch “Seinfeld” reruns.

The Grim Reaper’s Top Seven Films

1. Harley Davidson and the Marlboro Man

2. Smoke – This film was based on a story with the title “Auggie Wren’s Christmas Story”. Grim applauds the producer for changing the name. A brilliant marketing move.

3. King Richard III – The lame 1955 version (starring Sir Laurence Olivier) didn’t have any cigarettes in it, but the 1995 one did. The producer realized that putting cigarettes in 15th century England would be too much of a stretch (Richard III was killed at about the same time as Columbus’ first voyage), so he relocated the story to 1930’s Germany, and put at least one cigarette into every single ad for the film.

4. My Best Friend’s Wedding – A two-hour cigarette commercial.

5. Titanic – The Reaper loves disasters. He was, of course, present for the original sinking, but the producer of this film actually improved on history. In 1912, there were only about 15 women on the planet that smoked cigarettes. According to this film, all 15 of them went down with the ship.

6. Demolition Man – Part of a lucrative product placement deal between Sylvester Stallone and Brown & Williamson.

7. Thelma And Louise – Want to express rebellion againstthe Patriarchy? Smoke cigarettes. The tobacco companies are charter members of the Pregnant and Barefoot Club, but it will be a while before Hollywood lets anyone know about this.

Honourable Mention

1. Bull Durham – Grim was disappointed to discover that this movie has nothing to do with chewing tobacco. (Grim thinks that chewing tobacco is the greatest thing since nerve gas.) The movie is actually about a minor league baseball team called the Durham Bulls, who play their home games in Durham, North Carolina. However, Grim liked the scene where, as a between-innings promotion, a local tobacco company scattered some money on the field, and unleashed a group of 10 to 12-year-old kids to collect it.

Grim also likes watching Susan Sarandon.

2. Rocky Horror Picture Show – Nothing whatsoever to do with cigarettes, but this one has Susan Sarandon running around in her underwear for quite a while.

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