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|Index||30 reviews in total|
15 out of 17 people found the following review useful:
Not a bad movie at all, 10 January 2003
Michael J. Fox does an admirable job in the lead role of this movie adaptation of Jay McInerey's book. The plot concerns one man's downfall over the period of a week, and how it all stems from his mother dying and his wife leaving him. The movie follows the basic plot of the book with few changes. Overall a very decent movie, with a solid cast.
11 out of 11 people found the following review useful:
The Secret Of My Succe$s's evil twin, 1 November 2009
Author: Karl Self from Yurp
You have to leave it to Michael J.: no-one looks better harried in a
casual suit than he. That artfully ruffled hair is just the shizzle.
Even when he's been boozing and snorting lines all night, he looks like
the picture of life. Here he's teamed up with Kiefer Sutherland, the
second best-looking guy in a ruffled suit, and all seems to be set for
a zany, New-York-in-the-Eighties comedy along the lines of Fox's
previous The Secret Of My Succe$s. Only that they decided to make a
dire "serious" movie instead, probably to allow Fox to work beyond the
comedy genre for a change.
So Fox plays the young would-be writer of the Great American Novel who struggles with:
*the death of his mother a year ago
*being left by his model wife (meaning they're married and she works as a model -- everyone did in the Eighties) for a swanky French fashion photographer
*having to work as a fact checker for a The New Yorker-type magazine instead of being recognised as a literary maven
*New York City
*partying too hard, taking too much coke and hanging around models with earrings the size of dinner plates too much
Here's how the story went down with me: the main character and his entourage live the affluent life of New Yorker young urban professionals that everybody dreamed about in the Eighties. Our hero Jamie Conway has a well-paying job in the media, but he whines because he'd rather be an author. It's sad that his wife left him, but he handles it so immaturely that you begin to feel that she made the right choice. The dead mother in Kansas seems to be thrown in gratuitously to add ballast. The other women in this movie are so stereotypical (the motherly type, lots of club-going fashion skanks and finally the homely girl who goes to bed at ten under a large frilly duvet) that I garnered even more sympathies for the cheating wife. I couldn't buy into the whole coke fiend schtick because Michael J. Fox just looks so damn perky and apple-cheeked all the time.
Finally the ending: Jamie meets his estranged wife at a party, starts laughing hysterically, then his nose starts to bleed from doing all those lines. He then decides to call that homely girl, whines to her about his mother, and sorta decides that he's through with all those modern women and that she's what he needs. He then goes out into the New York morning and trades a loaf of bread for his sunglasses. Credits.
The story reminded me in many ways of The Catcher In The Rye -- only that TCITR a good, captivating book, while BRBC is a boring film. Maybe the book it was based on was much better, but it just didn't translate well to film, or maybe it was crap too.
14 out of 18 people found the following review useful:
Under-rated, 11 October 2000
This is a good, although not great, movie that often gets a lower rating than it deserves. All the actors fill their roles perfectly, especially Keifer Sutherland. The problem is it occasionally tries to be funny (or something?), which doesn't mesh with the rest of the film. Two guys getting attacked by a ferret is not very funny anyhow, unless they are Bill Murray and Jim Carrey. Ignore the parts that try to be funny and you will find this movie much more enjoyable.
15 out of 20 people found the following review useful:
Better than you might think, 16 July 2002
Author: prezike from NYC
I remember the ads for this film on TV when it came out, and it seemed
appealing to me then, even though I did not see it until recently on video.
I must say this is not a bad film by any means, and has quite a bit to say
about the struggles of young adults trying to "find their place" in the
world. It seems to me to be sort of the father of "Trainspotting" in
several ways (drugs, youth struggling with identity in society, narration,
etc.), although not nearly as elaborately produced, there are some pretty
decent elements of style incorporated some of which work well, some not so
Frankly I was surprised this was a Hollywood picture. The subject matter is not something that one would think people would flock to see, but maybe the producers thought it might be a new kind of "Breakfast Club" type film. Who knows, but it was an interesting risk that didn't pan out, as I do not recall this being a very successful film at the box office, but I admire the attempt at bringing it to a wide audience.
Some of the scenes seem a bit awkward, like the opening of the film at the former, great, NYC club, The Paladium, and the ferrit scene towards the end, and the confrontations with Pheobe Kates. However one has to wonder if this was intentional, because of the film makers' apparent desire to show that in "reality" things are not always so comfortable.
Overall a film worth one's time, if you keep your mind open a little bit. This is not Hollywood fluff, but it isn't a Lions Gate release either. I think Michael J Fox also deserves a lot of credit for doing "Bright Lights, Bit City" because this was the height of his career and to take on such a risk and a challenging as an actor should be commended. The movie is a pretty good attempt at handling a subject that is a reality for many youth. I think this audience is the one who would have most use out of such a film so if you fit in that category, it's worth your time.
9 out of 13 people found the following review useful:
Dim lights, fuzzy details., 19 January 2009
Author: moonspinner55 from las vegas, nv
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 ****
10 out of 15 people found the following review useful:
Actually Very Good, 23 December 2002
Author: sixpackrt (firstname.lastname@example.org) from Chicago
Despite the lukewarm reviews this film is always given, it is actually quite good. It may not fare on the same level as more gritty, powerful 80's substance abuse films such as Less Than Zero or Clean And Sober but its very likeable. Yes, some of the scenes from the book don't actually survive their journey to the screen but even these scenes are charming and enjoyable...in an awkward sort of way. For instance, the coma baby. Who doesn't love the coma baby?!?! He's great. And so is Michael J. Fox in what is arguably his best role. He makes Jamie the handsome, vulnerable guy who really "wouldn't be at a place like this at this time of the morning." I can't say someone else couldn't have done it better but Fox pulls it off without trying to sneek around any drama with jokes like a lot of comedy-gone-drama actors try to do. His drunken dialogue in front of Swoozie Kurtz over dinner at her apartment is a genuinely great piece of acting. Keifer Sutherland is there to play Allagash and nobody could play Allagash like Sutherland plays Allagash. And the dialogue is great due to McInerney's wit and ear for the clever talk of the coked-up New York night people. I can't say too much for the directing but the talent here, no matter how misled, is undeniable.
9 out of 14 people found the following review useful:
Fox was miscast, 17 February 2007
Author: highwaytourist from United States
There are two things that went wrong with this film. First and foremost is that Michael J. Fox is totally miscast for his role. I can understand him wanting to break away from the Alex Keaton character on "Family Ties." But, although he tries, he simply isn't right as a coke-addled, anguished writer. And it knocks the whole film off-kilter. Another problem is that the story doesn't translate easily onto film. There are some compensations- great supporting cast, catchy theme song ("Kiss & Tell" by Bryan Ferry), and excellent use of New York City locations. But they weren't enough to make the film a success, and the disappointing returns at the box office bear this out.
3 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
Time Capsule Theater, 7 April 2012
Author: Ralphus2 from South Korea
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
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.
3 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
No pain, no gain., 6 May 2010
Author: lost-in-limbo from the Mad Hatter's tea party.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I had only watched this film a couple months back, and I just had the
urge to watch it again. You know what
if I want to, I could watch it
tonight with no hesitation. I don't know why, but "Bright Lights, Big
City" simply impressed me. Watching it the second time around, I picked
up on a lot symbolic parallels running through the effectively told
story on substance abuse / addiction. Not that they weren't noticeable
the first time, but on this occasion they simply clicked. Another thing
was the staying power of Michael J. Fox's outstanding central
performance. He sells it, a multi-facet turn as a character truly lost
under the alluring yuppie Manhattan nightlife scene of neon lights,
drugs, alcohol and women. One day wasted after another, where it's hard
to distinguish the morphing days and what becomes a downward spiral
into descent. And why this option to escape personal damage, because he
can't handle what's in front of him. Double vodka and lines of coke.
Yeah the character forgets his hurt for the time being, but the effect
of this culture deadens him from reality and inspirations. This means
the problems only boil over. He risks his job (although he doesn't love
it), family (who he has pushed away after his mother's death of cancer)
and importantly his own well-being. So I guess its not particularly a
happy-shinny outing and it isn't suppose to be, despite some periods
played for laughs (namely the scenes with David Warrilow and a payback
prank that gets out of hand involving a ferret), it remains powerfully
confronting in its depiction.
Jamie Conway finds himself wasting his days in a banally demanding job, because as an aspiring fiction writer he's completely stuck with writer's block and to make matters worse his model wife (Phoebe Cates) left him to advance her career. No explanation why, just gone. And his mum had died of leukaemia, which still seems to haunt him. So in the dumps, he ends up going out every night with his pal Tad (Kiefer Sutherland) getting hammered to only wake-up to go through the same routine again, but the lifestyle begins to catch-up on him. Where he slowly begins to open up his eyes to what's happening to his life, and its coming up to the one-year anniversary of his mother's death.
There's a sub-plot running through the narrative, where it has newspapers and TV news shows reporting on a coma baby, that the mother is having trouble giving birth to. This symbolic insert (where it does have one oddly surreal dream sequence) perceives the manner of how Fox's character lives in a bubble (or coma), not wanting to face or hear about reality at first despite his troubled and bitter mindset and best efforts from those who "really" care for him (especially his scenes involving his brother --- admirably performed by Charlie Schlatter). Also the charming Swoosie Kurtz, plays the character Megan which is Jamie's co-worker who can be seen somewhat a surrogate mother figure for Jamie, especially the way she's always picking up after him and calling him to make sure his awake so he's not late at work. Because he's skating on thin ice with the constant attention of the bosses (exemplary performances by Frances Sternhagen and John Houseman) --- coming in late too often and numerous errors finding its way into his work due to a lack of commitment and drive. Eventually after the frustrating build up (losing job, ex-girlfriend back in town), she is the one that he spills his guts out too. Throughout we get peering flashbacks (namely in the mid-to-latter end) of Jamie talking to his bed-ridden mother (an engagingly vibrant Dianne Wiest), where we learn what's happening to her and then she questions him about his life topics. These moments are movingly done, and when he starts thinking of them it becomes a shock to the system in simply facing the facts. Other than Kurtz's character, the other genuine character to help him was Tad's sister Vicky (warmly performed by Tracy Pollan). What Jamie saw in Vicky was someone who was down-to-earth, where he could naturally be around without the use of drugs to liven the occasion. Around her he felt normal, and there was sincerity to their interactions that he could trust and confide. He's reborn (think of coma baby) after his coming to terms telephone conversation with Vicky and utters a memorable line to Tad. While around his yuppie friends (or bad companions); led by Tad (an excellently suave Keifer Sutherland). They didn't really know each other or really took time out to do so. Whenever together it was a shallow illustration of senseless partying throughout long, lost nights. A fitting Phoebe Cates in what small scenes she does have looks great and creates an interestingly vain character that has you totally hook to why she left Jamie. His jealousy of her success really soars in some sequences. Throughout the whole experience you feel like you're in his shoes or better in his head riding the lows.
Director James Bridges moodily stylish and slick handling neatly combines the hustle and bustle of the nightlife NY scene. Directionless at times, but efficient. Surrounding the air is an oozing, bluesy music score, which is perfect at expressing the running emotions. Tightly edited and it's well written by Jay McKiernan (adapting his own novel) making good sense of the witty dilogues and character complexities, despite not entirely being clear with the motivations. Edgy location details were superbly brought across.
"Bright Lights, Big City" is a contemplative character drama with excellent performances grounding it.
5 out of 8 people found the following review useful:
very sad movie., 24 November 2003
Author: triple8 from Conn
I saw this a long time ago and still remmeber how good it was. Who hasn't had a "jaime" in their life at some point? Michael J. Fox did an excellent job with tihs role and it's a movie that anybody who appreciates movies about the pitfalls of addictions and the destruction that living on the darkside can wreak would enjoy. It's not a happy movie and it is very 80's(it came out in the late 80's as I recall) but is still very well done and should be seen by anyone who appreciates movies of this genre.
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