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Bright Lights, Big City (SE)
DVD disk
Sep 4, 2008 By: Jason Adams
Bright Lights, Big City (SE) order
Director:
James Bridges

Actors:
Michael J. Fox
Kiefer Sutherland
Phoebe Cates

Rating:
Movie:
Extras:
Overall:

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WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
A small town writer transplanted to New York City gets lost in a world of booze and drugs as he tries to forget his problems with his wife and family. Or what most of us call Thursday through Sunday.
IS IT A GOOD MOVIE?
BRIGHT LIGHTS, BIG CITY was Michael J. Foxs attempt at being gritty as a means to ditch his squeaky clean image after years of Family Ties, BACK TO THE FUTURE and TEEN WOLF popularity. However, doing blow and reciting growly, noir-ish narration does not make Fox a tougher, more adult character. It makes him look like Marty McFly trying to play with the big boys.

Dont get me wrong. Michael J. Fox is a solid actor, and hes quite good in his role in BRIGHT LIGHTS. Theres a lengthy drunken monologue he gives that is impressive, maybe the best that I can remember seeing the actor. And while his innocent image does the story service as a nave small town kid in over his head in the big boy party scene of 1980s New York, its still hard to buy Fox completely. When he stares in to a mirror, hungover, unsure of what he did the night before and spouting introspective narration, his boyish charm is still what comes across and its almost cute.

I think the bigger issue here is not the acting; its the story. Theres really not much to the movie when you think about it. Fox likes to party each night and it endangers his day job. We find out he has some issues with his family and his wife leaving him. He gets over it and the movie ends. Based on a Jay McInerty's book of the same name, theres a very literary feel to it (including some heavy handed symbolism), which can work well and sustain a few hundred pages in a novel. But as a movie the plot needed more meat. This is why you get random things like an animatronic talking fetus (seriously!) and a ferret biting Kiefer Sutherlands penis (still seriously!). That feels like it belongs in a slapstick comedy, not a serious drama.

But perhaps the biggest disappointment was Phoebe Cateswho was barely in the movie despite top billing. Thats a serious crime.
THE EXTRAS
This Twentieth Anniversary special edition gets the basic expected DVD treatment.

Commentary by author/screenwriter Jay McInerny: Youd think writing both the movie and the novel on which its based would give McInerny plenty to talk about. He does cover a lot of ground, but doesnt talk a whole lot.

Commentary by cinematographer Gordon Willis: I dont mean to knock Mr. Willis, who seems like a nice guy. And the cinematography in the film was fine. But, really, does anybody truly care to listen to the DoP talk shop about a movie that left the public consciousness twenty years ago? I didnt think so.

Jay McInernys The Light Within (12:07): The author/screenwriter speaks about the world behind the movie, living in New York City himself and the film that eventually came from it.

Big City Lights (14:55): A bunch of people Ive never heard of talk about the culture behind the filmboth the world of the 80s and the world of the struggling author.

A Photo Gallery.
FINAL DIAGNOSIS
Some might look back fondly on BRIGHT LIGHTS, BIG CITY as the time Michael J. Fox tried to grow up and do some risky drama. But other than the shock value of seeing Marty McFly snort some blow, theres not much else this movie has to offer.

Extra Tidbit: Both Tom Cruise and Charlie Sheen were up for the role of Jamie.
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