5.6/10
6,158
38 user 27 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:

All that glitters is not gold. 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)

Opening Weekend:

$5,126,791 (USA) (1 April 1988)

Gross:

$16,118,077 (USA)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

(DuArt)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The book "Bright Lights, Big City" is one of the few well-known novels in the English language written in second person ("you") form, and the film's narration is a result of this adaptation. Much of the narration is lifted directly or adapted from the novel; for example, the movie's first line, "You are not the kind of guy who would be at a place like this at this time of the morning..." is also the first line of the book. See more »

Goofs

When Jamie (Michael J. Fox) runs from his brother who's been waiting for him on Jamie's stoop, he enters the Christopher Street station of NYC's 1 train. But when the camera shows him on the subway platform he's actually at the 42nd Street/Times Square station. See more »

Quotes

Bartender at Fashion Show: Sorry, the bar is closed.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Mystery Science Theater 3000: Teenage Caveman (1991) See more »

Soundtracks

True Faith
Performed by New Order
Courtesy of Owest Records/Factory Records
Produced by Stephen Hague & New Order
Words & Music by New Order & Stephen Hague
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Time Capsule Theater
7 April 2012 | by (South Korea) – See all my reviews

I won't bother with recounting the plot--plenty of others here have done that--but I will give some thoughts from the perspective of a 40-something who remembers fondly the movie and the times from whence it came.

I remember hating this movie when I first saw it back in the day. I'd read half the novel and hated that too. My main memory of both of them, oddly enough, was the Coma Baby. It features heavily in the book but somewhat less so in the movie.

Watching it again so many years later and so many years out from the 80s, I was surprised to find myself enjoying it. Perhaps it was a nostalgia thing. My mind was certainly flooding with associated memories. 1988 was the year I finished high school. I was soon to leave my little red-neck country town and move to the big smoke where a whole new life would begin (and there have been at least three more since then!).

Some positives: I'm a huge Donald Fagen/Steely Dan fan, so Fagen's soundtrack was appreciated. It doesn't really sound like his regular stuff (until the very end), and was, frankly, often quite cheesy and even out of place at times. But I convinced myself I liked it. Other Fagen fans may also. The movie really grabs the 80s very effectively. Nightclubs, hair, blow, the whole bit. There is a surprising appearance from the wonderful Jason Robards which, shamefully, is uncredited according to IMDb. Considering the size of his role this is kind of odd.

Negatives: Phoebe Cates seemed completely unconvincing as a model and Michael J. Fox was completely unconvincing as a...sorry, but, hey...as a grown-up. He's never really any different from how he was in Back to the Future or even Family Ties. He's still all got up in jeans and a suit jacket, skipping all over the place, and gulping, "Shucks" (at least seemingly). No disrespect to the guy. Just that this movie reminds that he was never so well suited to anything with pretensions to being serious. And that last point sums up the problems with this film: it eventually becomes apparent that the movie is trying to be taken seriously. It just doesn't work though. A pretentious novel as starting place doesn't help. Ham acting and cheese dialog don't help none neither.

Still, an enjoyable time capsule. Kiefer does OK as wise-a** friend. The wonderful Frances Sternhagen, an appearance from the then-soon-to-be-late John Houseman, and even the magnificent William Hickey. Tracy Pollan is gorgeous and Swoosie Kurtz is her usual charming self. The ending is quite poignant, featuring Dianne Wiest, but isn't enough to really justify getting there.

If you're 40-something, watch this with ice cream and snacks on a lazy weekday evening. If you're younger or older than that...probably don't bother, coz it ain't really that great.


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