Michael J. Fox
Donít get me wrong. Michael J. Fox is a solid actor, and heís quite good in his role in BRIGHT LIGHTS. Thereís 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 naÔve 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 itís almost cute.
I think the bigger issue here is not the acting; itís the story. Thereís 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, thereís 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 Sutherlandís penis (still seriously!). That feels like it belongs in a slapstick comedy, not a serious drama.
But perhaps the biggest disappointment was Phoebe CatesÖwho was barely in the movie despite top billing. Thatís a serious crime.
Commentary by author/screenwriter Jay McInerny: Youíd think writing both the movie and the novel on which itís based would give McInerny plenty to talk about. He does cover a lot of ground, but doesnít talk a whole lot.
Commentary by cinematographer Gordon Willis: I donít 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 didnít think so.
Jay McInernyís 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 Iíve never heard of talk about the culture behind the filmóboth the world of the 80s and the world of the struggling author.
A Photo Gallery.
Extra Tidbit: Both Tom Cruise and Charlie Sheen were up for the role of Jamie.