40. Bright Lights, Big City

As a child growing up, I was obsessed, and I mean *obsessed* with Back to the Future.  Therefore I also thought Michael J. Fox could do no wrong.  I can vividly remember the previews for Bright Lights, Big City on tv and begging my mom to see it.  She wisely put her foot down, and I didn’t get to see an R rated film in the theatres until 1993 when my father took me to see The Getaway starring Alec Baldwin and Kim Basinger.  I was especially pissed off when a show on Nickelodeon with kid movie critics reviewed the film.  In hindsight, I’m shocked they promoted the film on a children’s network then.  (actually-if you can name a PG movie that uses the word “fuck” I’ll give you mad props…I only know of one…leave it in the comments)

Ok, I”m off track.  On with the review!

In Bright Lights, Big City Michael J. Fox stars as Jamie Conway, an aspiring novelist who is stuck as a fact checker at a prominent magazine.  After his ex-wife leaves him and his mother (Dianne Wiest) dies of leukemia, he goes into a tailspin of cocaine addiction.  As he parties the nights away in New York with his buddy (Kiefer Sutherland) until the breakadawn, Jamie becomes more and more careless with his partying and is eventually fired from his job.  He also learns that his ex-wife played by Phoebe Cates (who is now a successful model) has returned to New York which causes even more problems as he searches for the real reasons why she left him.  As his cocaine use spirals out of control, it’s only a matter of if he can turn his life around before hitting rock bottom.

Bright Lights, Big City brings about mixed feelings for me.  While I’ve always adored Michael J. Fox, it’s almost as if he’s just too nice a guy to be an out of control drug addict.  When he throws tantrums and screams expletives it is almost unbelievable.  I don’t feel the film is deserving of a terrible review, but it definitely felt like the film was devoid of direction and a worthy conclusion.  On the other hand I enjoyed how the seedy club life of late 80’s New York was portrayed.  If you’re looking for a compelling film about 80’s drug addicts gone wild, may I suggest Clean and Sober starring Michael Keaton.

I am too conflicted to give a star rating, so I’ll just give this film a “C minus”


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Categories: 100 Films

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