5.7/10
6,584
40 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:

James Bridges

Writers:

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

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Michael J. Fox ... Jamie
Kiefer Sutherland ... Tad
Phoebe Cates ... Amanda
Swoosie Kurtz ... Megan
Frances Sternhagen ... Clara
Tracy Pollan ... Vicky
John Houseman ... Mr. Vogel
Charlie Schlatter ... Michael
David Warrilow David Warrilow ... Rittenhouse
Dianne Wiest ... Mother
Alec Mapa ... Yasu Wade
William Hickey ... Ferret Man
Gina Belafonte Gina Belafonte ... Kathy
Sam Robards ... Rich Vanier
Bernard Zette 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:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English | French

Release Date:

1 April 1988 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Die grellen Lichter der Großstadt See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$25,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$5,126,791, 1 April 1988, Wide Release

Gross USA:

$16,118,077
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby Stereo

Color:

Color (DuArt)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

In 1985 Jerry Weintraub became the chief executive of United Artists and brought this property with him. Since that meant he couldn't or wouldn't be able to produce it, he looked around for another producer. Sydney Pollack and Mark Rosenberg agreed to do it, but wanted a rewrite of the script, for which they hired Julie Hickson. Tom Cruise and Joel Schumacher grew tired of waiting for a workable script, but before they could be replaced, Weintraub left United Artists. The project became entangled in a complicated settlement with the studio, resulting in a production delay of several months before it was finally made by United Artists. 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

Jamie Conway: [voice over] You are not the kind of guy who would be at a place like this at this time of the morning and, though the details are fuzzy, you cannot say that the terrain is entirely unfamiliar.
See more »

Connections

Featured in At the Movies: They'll Do It Every Time: Part Two (1992) 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 moonspinner55See 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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