44 user 33 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.


James Bridges


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




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 ... Kathy
Sam Robards ... Rich Vanier
Bernard Zette Bernard Zette ... Stevie (as Zette)


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 fact checker for a literary Manhattan magazine. Written by Larry B.

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


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




R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »

Did You Know?


In seven days James Bridges wrote a new draft and got rid of six cast members, replacing them with Jason Robards, Jr. John Houseman, Swoosie Kurtz, Frances Sternhagen and Tracy Pollan while keeping Kiefer Sutherland and Dianne Wiest. Those cast members took the part based on a reading of the novel, since there was no script at the time. See more »


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 »


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 »


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


BNT Blues
Performed by Bobby Forester
Produced by Donald Fagen
Music by Bobby Forester & Clarence "Tootsie" Bean
Released on the 1993 album "Five by Five"
See more »

User Reviews

Don't bother. Really. Don't even bother.
8 April 2003 | by JKazooSee all my reviews

I read the original book for a Freshman English class, and was enthralled by a unique character study from a Second Person perspective. Then, the teacher showed us this, and now I understand why "film snobs" always complain "The book was better." In this case, it most certainly IS. There's a major plot point toward the end of the book (which I won't mention here, not so I won't spoil the movie, but the book), that puts all that you read into perspective and makes it all worthwhile. Here, the point is revealed in the first 5 minutes, and it ruins any reason to sit through this motion picture. Instead of reading and wondering "Why is he like this?," which was one of the main reasons the book was such a page-turner, the movie tells you why he does it, and you just sit there and watch him do it, knowing why. Remember how people say they hate people who reveal the endings to things? Well, this movie just up and DOES IT ITSELF! If you still want to see the movie, first read the book, then have some fun with friends picking apart this mish-mosh of a noble failure.

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English | French

Release Date:

1 April 1988 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Bright Lights, Big City See more »


Box Office


$25,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$5,126,791, 3 April 1988

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Dolby Stereo



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

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