Doodad Kind of Town

"Sex and the City: The Movie" Reviewed
May 30, 2008, 8:43 pm
Filed under: Sex and the City

Well, kids, I’m home from the matinee and still buzzed from our post-movie round of Cosmos, so let me get right down to brass tacks here. And be warned, I’m going to throw a few spoilers in here and there – so if you haven’t seen it yet, you might want to come back later.

Bottom line: I was a bit disappointed.

Not that it wasn’t entertaining. There were some laugh-out-loud moments, mainly when Charlotte literally shit her pants after absent-mindedly drinking the water on a Mexican vacation, and the repeated sight gag of Samantha’s new puppy furiously humping sofa pillows.

As you will note, the big laughs in this movie are not largely character-driven.

There is one genuinely touching moment between Steve and Miranda in the middle of the Brooklyn Bridge. It was the only time I teared up in nearly two-and-a-half hours. The moments that should have been equally touching – Charlotte discovering she’s pregnant, Big proposing to Carrie on bended knee – are treated so perfunctorily that they have almost no emotional wallop whatsoever.

I saw “Sex and the City” with my friend, Jen, the witty and insightful writer of the fashion/travel/beauty blog Monkey Posh, and we came to this conclusion over lunch: We know those characters better than SATC creator Michael Patrick King thought we did. And in “SATC: The Movie,” they mostly behave in ways that feel very contrived and out of character.

(In fact, I think one or both of us may have uttered the phrase “Fuck you, Michael Patrick King!”I can’t say for sure. I’m remembering this from the other side of a vodka-and-cranberry-juice-induced haze, after all.)

Just as “SATC: The TV Series” was about what happens to women in their thirties while they’re looking for love, “SATC: The Movie” is about what happens to women in their forties when they’ve landed in stable relationships. It’s about loss, forgiveness and the challenge of keeping romance alive. I’ll just say that the story lines involving Miranda and Samantha fulfill these worthy objectives pretty darn well, Charlotte and Carrie’s stories less so.

Steve and Miranda’s lives are a blur of work, school and family commitments. They’re short on sleep and quality time, and haven’t had sex in six months. And (as you may have guessed from a confession scene that was included in early trailers), Steve has a one-time sexual encounter with another woman which leaves him wracked with horrible guilt. When she finds out, the typically hard-headed Miranda moves out and refuses to forgive him. You ache for Miranda to come to her senses and give Steve another chance; their relationship has the highest emotional stakes of any in the movie,and both Cynthia Nixon and David Eigenberg play them for all they’re worth. In fact, Jen felt that Cynthia Nixon was the real star of the movie. And Eigenberg is, notably, the only man other than Chris Noth to be given an appropriately substantial role

Meanwhile, on the West Coast, where Samantha now resides with her hunky actor boyfriend, Smith Jerrod, things are no better. Samantha, fifty-year-old fox that she is, still craves hot sex and adventure, but Smith spends more time at the studio than in her bed. She’s lonely, bored, driven to compulsive shopping and eating to fill up her emptiness. Kim Catrall gives it her best shot, but this Samantha is a whole let less fun. (We never once see her getting it on with Smith – or anyone else.) Yet the arc of her relationship with Smith feels pretty true to her character.

On the other hand…

If I were Kristin Davis, I think I’d be pissed off about my underwritten afterthought of a role in the big screen SATC. Apart from her surprise pregnancy, which is given very little screen time, nothing interesting happens to Charlotte. She’s mostly just there to provide prissy, Pollyanna-ish reactions to the events in her friends’ lives (in a way that seems like a throwback to the pre-Trey McDougall-era Charlotte, not the one who’s married to heart-of-gold Harry Goldenblatt.) We don’t get to see her interact with Harry at all, and her adopted daughter, Lily, pops up only as a cute, background distraction when Charlotte is hanging out with her girlfriends. Wouldn’t you have loved to see Harry in action as a doting dad? I know I would have. Too bad there’s none of that here.

And as for Big and Carrie…

You can count me among those who never quite bought into the whole “Big and Carrie live happily ever after” note on which the series ended. Big (real name: John James Preston) was all about head games and emotional unavailability until the last two episodes of the show when he suddenly turned into Mr. White Knight/Rescuer/Heart on his Sleeve guy, professing his love for Carrie and bringing her home from Paris. That transition always felt contrived to me, and so does everything that happens between Big and Carrie in this movie.

First there’s a non-proposal kind of proposal that’s motivated more by Carrie’s need to avoid homelessness and legal hassles if their relationship should end (“I wouldn’t mind being married to you. Would you mind being married to me?” “Well, no, not if that’s what you wanted.”) Then suddenly Carrie is modeling designer wedding gowns for the over-40 bride in the pages of Vogue and planning a 200-guest wing ding at the New York City Public Library.

And Big gets – wait for it! – cold feet!!! Betcha didn’t see that coming!

It starts at the rehearsal dinner, where some drunken jackass from Big’s office gives him shit about being a three-time groom. Then Miranda and Steve have a fight, and Miranda tells Big “You should never get married. Marriage ruins everything.” This is something which the Miranda we know and love would never say to Big -although Big is acting true to form when he takes this ominous warning to heart.

Then, there’s a whole lot of trumped-up wedding day trauma involving missed cell phone calls and Big leaving – then returning – to the scene of the wedding, where Carrie screams, bashes him over the head with her bouquet and runs, while Charlotte flounces along beside her in a too-tight black bridesmaid dress for comic relief. The whole scene is badly paced and completely unconvincing, with Carrie flying off the handle way too soon. It’s impossible to watch without thinking “WTF, Carrie – get your ass back there and talk to him!” This is the part of the movie where I started to think that both Carrie and Miranda were starting to behave like self-involved jackasses.

So Carrie goes into a year-long funk during which she has her hair dyed to a funereal brunette shade, her old apartment redecorated (by Pier One, from the looks of it) and hires a personal assistant, played by Jennifer Hudson. The jury’s still out on whether Hudson can handle a non-singing role; here she’s competent, but little else. But Carrie prizes her organizational abilities and, in gratitude, bestows her with the butt-ugliest handbag that ever came out of the Louis Vuitton factory.

(A side note on the fashions: they’re disappointing, too. Carrie wears the same Versace gladiator sandals in several scenes. She also recycles a godawful black, metal-studded belt way too often, and wears a white belt to her engagement party that I swear is from SJP’s everything-under-$20 Bitten line for Steve and Barry’s. From Jen, these observations: Samantha’s suits, with their peplums and shoulder pads, are very reminiscent of Kathie Lee Gifford’s late ’80s heyday. Also, Carrie’s bridal lipstick – a garish swipe of bright red – complements neither her peachy complexion nor her cream-colored gown.)

My other big complaint: Stanford Blatch (Willie Garson) is pretty much an afterthought in this movie, too. As Carrie’s ‘gay husband,’ he ought to get at least one scene to himself with her. As it is, he’s barely more than a cameo. Worse yet, his cute-but-dim boyfriend, Marcus, is nowhere to be seen, and no explanation is given for his absence.

In the days when I was watching new episodes of “Sex and the City” on HBO, I would literally be disappointed when the show was over each week. I wanted the stories to go on and on. “Sex and the City: The Movie” gave me no such feeling. At just under two-and-a-half hours, it was a bit of a grind to get through and I was happy to get up and leave when the end credits rolled. After four years of waiting, I really wish it had amounted to more than this.


7 Comments so far
Leave a comment

Bravo!Great Reveiw Pat–seriously.I am still rolling in the floor with laughter at your adamant desire for MORE MARCUS!!!! The tone is the same throughout I wanted MORE CARRIE, MORE MIRANDA, MORE FASHION, MORE NEW YORK…..ETC. I just wanted more.The movie was different than the show –We get it, but we all loved the show, and we knew the show. I feel so much of this writing was just filler, and that is a total shame.And yes WTF with that damn belt and POX on Michael Patrick King.Oh well at least for our money we got a narrarator….*rolls eyes*.I hope David Eigenberg gets more work after this. I kinda think I love him.Oh and I loved all the Pollack coverage. So befitting when movie bloggers honor the greats in their blogging genre. Have a nice time with your family this weekend.

Comment by Parisjasmal

To clarify–the Pollack coverage was just on the blogs–NOT in the movie.After I re-read my comment I thought it made no sense.

Comment by Parisjasmal

yes but please can some one tells me whether carrie ends up single and alone?

Comment by Anonymous

I love ya dearly, Pat, but you know I’ll have to respectfully disagree. Did you miss the glare of rage that Charlotte shot Big when he was trying to talk to Carrie? That was the first tear-up moment for me. It was more about the fact that Charlotte knew what her friend was going through, and was literally ready to murder the person who put her in that situation.I agree about Harry, though. I would have loved more of him.

Comment by Nayana Anthony

Hey PJ – I’m glad we saw it together, and are of the same mind about it. Anonymous – Sorry, there is a limit to the spoilers I will share. I suggest you go out and see it for yourself.Nayana – No worries, disagreements among movie lovers are what make the blogosphere such a lively place. Actually I envy you – I really wish I’d been able to enjoy it as much as you did.

Comment by Pat

My stars! What language!You loved the SATC the show, when it ended every week after a half hour you mourned, and yet this is more (5 times more) and you didn’t like it.Hmmm … seems the film-makers missed a chance here to flesh out the characters in the longer format. For instance, it was 2.5 hours long and still an underwritten role for Charlotte.Do you suppose Producer Sarah Jessica Parker could have something to do with that?

Comment by Rick Olson

Rick -Sorry about my language – it is indeed much saltier than usual and I attribute that to the lingering effects of the vodka when I was writing. :)Yeah, they had extra time, but they didn’t use it well. Both Miranda’s and Carrie’s stories could have been written much tighter; they both spent a huge chunk of the movie not speaking to their significant others when I was just dying for them to hash our their differences. On the big screen, the “filler” of fashion shows and shopping and such felt so much emptier than it did on television.

Comment by Pat

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