Bright Lights, Big City
is a film directed by James Bridges and starring Michael J. Fox, released in 1988. It was adapted from the eponymous novel by Jay McInerney, who also wrote the film's screenplay.
Jamie Conway is a man in free fall. Once upon a time he arrived in New York with dreams of literary success, but he has found himself stuck in an unrewarding job as a fact-checker for a literary magazine, his wife has left him to embrace a career as an international model, his mother has died, and his twin cocaine and alcohol habits are wrecking his life. The narrative follows him in the course of a week or so, as he careens towards rock bottom.
The film, like the novel, is a nonjudgemental but candid depiction of the drug-fueled lifestyle of 1980s New York yuppies.
This film contains examples of:
- A Threesome is Hot: Referenced as Jamie follows two girls he was chatting up into the club's restrooms, expecting to find them doing coke. In fact they're making out with each other, and playfully ask him "Wanna join in?"
- The Alcoholic: Alex Hardy, an older co-worker of Jamie's, goes through life in a permanent drunken stupor.
- Big Applesauce
- Contemplative Boss: Jamie's boss at the magazine he works for strikes the pose before lecturing him about a sloppy job he did.
- Deadly Nosebleed: When Jamie has a cocaine-induced meltdown, he starts bleeding from the nose. Justified in that his drug habit had probably been wreaking havoc on his sinuses. The incident finally convinces him that he needs help.
- Functional Addict: Jamie's friend Tad seems to sustain himself exclusively on booze and coke, yet unlike Jamie, doesn't seem adversely affected by chronic substance abuse.
- The Other Marty: When the original director Joyce Chopra was fired and replaced with James Bridges, he recast most of the principal cast except for Dianne Wiest and (ironically considering he was partially responsible for the trope namer) Michael J. Fox.
- Playing Against Type: Until then, Michael J. Fox was mostly known for his comedy roles and for playing Marty McFly in Back to the Future. Playing a self-destructive cokehead was quite a change for him.
- Titled After the Song
- Train Escape: Jamie hops on a departing subway train to escape from his estranged brother.
- Unintentional Period Piece