5.6/10
6,134
37 user 28 critic

Bright Lights, Big City (1988)

R | | Drama | 1 April 1988 (USA)
A disillusioned young writer living in New York City turns to drugs and drinking to block out the memories of his dead mother and estranged wife.

Director:

Writers:

(novel), (screenplay)
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2 nominations. See more awards »
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
...
Tad
...
Amanda
...
Megan
...
Clara
...
...
Mr. Vogel
...
Michael
David Warrilow ...
Rittenhouse
...
Mother
...
Yasu Wade
...
Ferret Man
Gina Belafonte ...
Kathy
...
Rich Vanier
Bernard Zette ...
Stevie (as Zette)
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Storyline

Jamie Conway (Michael J. Fox) is an aspiring writer and yuppie living in New York City who seeks oblivion in cocaine and the glittery nightclub scene as his life falls apart (his wife leaves him, his mother dies, etc.). With his hard-partying friend Tad Allagash (Kiefer Sutherland) tagging along with him during their nights out, Jamie finds it increasingly difficult to show up every day at his unfulfilling job as a fast checker for a literary Manhattan magazine. Written by Larry B.

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

It's 6.00am. Do you know where you are? See more »

Genres:

Drama

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

|

Language:

Release Date:

1 April 1988 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Die grellen Lichter der Großstadt  »

Box Office

Budget:

$25,000,000 (estimated)

Gross:

$16,118,077 (USA)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

(DuArt)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Cinematographer Gordon Willis replaced D.O.P. Jim Glennon as director of photography. See more »

Goofs

During Jamie's story of his relationship with Amanda to Megan his wineglass goes from half-full to empty in less than two seconds, while he's speaking. See more »

Quotes

Ferret Man: Wanna buy a ferret?
Jamie Conway: No, thanks.
Ferret Man: His name is Fred...
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Mike & Mike: Episode dated 20 February 2015 (2015) See more »

Soundtracks

Nun Will Die Sonn' So Hell Aufgehn
from "Kindertotenlieder"
Written by Gustav Mahler
Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, Baritone
Berliner Philharmoniker (as Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra), conducted by Karl Böhm (as Karl Boehm)
Deutsche Grammophon/Polydor INT'L GmbH
used courtesy of PolyGram Special Products, a division of PolyGram Records, INC.
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Dim lights, fuzzy details.
19 January 2009 | by (las vegas, nv) – See all my reviews

It must have struck cinematographer Gordon Willis as highly ironic that he would shoot a film with the title "Bright Lights, Big City". Willis, known for his fabulous work with dark, muted colors and characters in shadows or silhouettes, seems absolutely lost within this night-life milieu, which isn't bright and hardly seems big. Jay McInerney adapted his own 1984 novel about a would-be writer in New York City whose job in the research department of a prominent magazine (Gotham!) is constantly threatened by his drug use, which may stem from a broken marriage and memories of his deceased mother. It's not difficult to pinpoint what went wrong here: although Michael J. Fox may seem well-cast from the outset, it clearly becomes apparent he's in over his head. Fox (whose plastic voice-over narration was probably supposed to sound hard-boiled) is too well-scrubbed and corn-fed to be convincing as a party maniac; acting disoriented by blinking his eyes heavily and tightening his thin mouth, Fox is strictly a morose good-time guy, mourning the separation from fashion model spouse Phoebe Cates. But there's nothing at stake for this kid when he stays up all night (except for his job at the magazine, which hardly matters to us since the sequences set there are wholly unconvincing). Director James Bridges takes an episodic approach to the narrative, but his continuity (or perhaps the editing) is sloppy and gummy, and the people in Fox's small circle aren't terribly interesting. And did the movie go through a budgetary crisis? The weak nightclubbing scenes look barren and cheap (aside from some city vistas and subway rides, the picture could easily take place in Passaic, New Jersey for all we know). When Fox goes out on a blind date with Tracy Pollan, we know instantly these two clean-cut kids will click on their appearance alone: they look like an upscale young couple coming home from a Republican fundraiser. There's nothing dangerous about Michael J. Fox or his approach to this part. He drinks, he snorts, he swears, but he doesn't live the highs and lows of an addict on the edge. Or, is this guy an addict? There's no visual punch in Bridges' staging to suggest he's anything more than a spoiled kid looking for a girl to adore him. *1/2 from ****


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