MPAA Rating: R

Entertainment: +3

Content: -2 1/2

This whimsical movie with a first rate cast takes place in the summer of 1990. The setting is a small smoke shop in Brooklyn, owned by good-hearted Auggie (Harvey Keitel) who loves to spin great stories. Every morning he takes a snapshot of his street corner at exactly the same time. Imagine looking through albums filled with 4,000 pictures of the same scene. That's what Paul (William Hurt) does one night when he stops in at closing time to buy his favorite cigar. Intellectual Paul is a writer in a terrible slump since his young pregnant wife was killed in a neighborhood drive-by shooting. One day Paul is knocked clear of a speeding car by a black teenager called Rashid (Harold Perrineau). Paul discovers the boy is temporarily homeless and offers him a place to stay for a few nights. Rashid, though likable and smart, is a troubled youth in search of his long lost father. With the aid of a bundle of stolen money none of them wants, Auggie, Paul and Rashid reach out to each other in this unusual story of friendship. SMOKE may not have enough action for some, but those who relish character studies will enjoy this unusual film.

Although Auggie, Paul and Rashid are certainly not saints, each is sensitive and caring. Auggie hopes to make some money through some illegally imported cigars, but when Rashid accidentally ruins the deal, Auggie is quick to forgive. When Rashid recovers a bag of stolen money from a gang of thieves, he neglects to turn it over to the police, but he does not want it for himself. He's also a very convincing con-man, using his charm to manipulate. Paul has become almost a hermit since his wife's death, wallowing in grief and self-pity. His genuine concern for Rashid brings back his zest for life. The film's strengths however, are almost overshadowed by its foul language. Over 40 regular profanities and obscenities do not add to the funny, heartwarming story - they merely make you cringe. One brief scene featuring a young woman trapped in a world of drugs, prostitution and physical abuse contains at least half of the most offensive language and very crude references to sex. Violence is limited to one fist fight, but it is neither excessive nor gratuitous. SMOKE is another example of a quality film tainted just enough to spoil its acceptability for discerning viewers.

Preview Reviewer: Mary Draughon
Miramax Films, 18 E. 48th St., NY, NY 10017

The following categories contain objective listings of film content which contribute to the subjective numeric Content ratings posted to the left and on the Home page.

Crude Language: Many (14) times - Mild 5, Moderate 9

Obscene Language: Many (28) times (f-word 13, s-word 12, other 3)

Profanity: Many (13) times - Regular 12 (J, G-d, G), Exclamatory 1

Violence: Once - Moderate (fist fight)

Sex: None

Nudity: None

Sexual Dialogue/Gesture: Several times (prostitute spews out crude terms for sex)

Drugs: Many times (cigar smoking, beer drinking)

Other: None

Running Time:
Intended Audience: Adults

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