Friday, May 21, 2010

The Complete Seventh Season. A Review of Sex and the City: The Movie



SEX AND THE CITY

I'm man enough to admit that I've seen a few episodes of Sex and the City. The one I remember involved role reversals. The Slutty One (Kim Cattrall) found a woman who was a bigger whore than she was, while The Uptight One (Kristin Davis) started raving to her sorority sisters about how she wanted a "good f*^#". How The Star (Sarah Jessica Parker) or The Other One (Cynthia Nixon) fit into all this I don't know since I only saw parts of this episode.

I was never a fan of the show, so the lives of four women in New York City who go on endlessly about clothes and sex (I believe in that order) was of no real interest to me. They were, however, of passionate devotion to many women and I gather many gay men. (Side Note: I know three men who admit to being fans of the show--all of whom say they are straight, so I've yet to meet anyone who belongs to this gay fan base, but I digress).

After SATC ended its run, the inevitable movie was made. As I see it, Sex And The City: The Movie is the equivalent of a fix for an addict: it will satisfy the one taking it but it will not benefit anyone.

It has been three years since we last left The Star (known as Carrie), The Uptight One (called Charlotte), The Slutty One (that would be Samantha), and The Other One (whoever is leftover...oh yes, Miranda). We get a quick history lesson in an opening montage for those of us not initiated into the cult of Cosmopolitans, and then we get the the story. Actually, I should say stories, because with FOUR main character you get FOUR stories:
  1. The Other One & her husband Steve Brady (David Eigenberg).
  2. The Uptight One & her husband Harry Goldenblatt (Evan Handler)
  3. The Slutty One & her much younger lover, Smith Jerrod (Jason Lewis)
  4. The Star & her on/off/on/off/on/off/on/off/on lover John James Preston better known as Big or Mr. Big (Chris Noth)
WARNING: FOR THOSE INTO SATC THERE WILL BE SPOILERS GALORE (IT CANNOT BE AVOIDED).

Story One: The Other One is generally cold and emotionally distant from her regular-Joe husband, to the point where she tells Steve as they're having sex, "Let's get it over with". Steve, hurt, rejected, and in need of some companionship, confesses to a one-night stand but The Other One refuses to forgive or forget.

Story Two: The Uptight One is in throws of delight with her newly adopted daughter, but discovers later that she is pregnant and is concerned that she will lose the baby.

Story Three: The Slutty One is growing dissatisfied with being a one-woman girl (even if the man she's with she turned into a star and stuck by her through chemotherapy--which happened on the show) and is lusting after her next door neighbor who is also a slut (Gilles Marini).

Story Four: The Star has finally gotten what she has wanted: a luxurious apartment with LOTS and LOTS of closet space, and after 10 years she and Big are finally going to marry.

THE FOLLOWING IS AN EDITORIAL BY MR. RICK ARAGON WHICH HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH THE REVIEW.

I have certain rules for relationships. The Number One Rule is: After Three Years You Must Get Engaged or End It. I believe that after three years, you already know the person, their quirks, their likes, their dislikes, and they're not likely to change. Therefore, it is time to make the union official (and yes, legal). Anything longer than that doesn't make you a Girlfriend; it makes you a Mistress.

I'm not saying "Get Married at the End of Three Years". I am saying that both parties should make their commitment so unique to each other that one makes a promise to the other to be exclusive from now on. By waiting ten years, they have wasted too much time for no other reason than their selfishness.

END OF EDITORIAL.



Now, here's the dilemma in Sex and the City: what works in hourly installments on premium cable flops within the confines of a feature film, even one as long as this one (clocking in at about two-and-a-half hours). Each story is enough for a feature film of its own, but because each character weaves her way into the other stories they get all mashed up and it soon becomes tedious for someone who has little or no knowledge of who The Star, The Slutty One, The Uptight One, or The Other One are.

I figure the main story is that of The Star and Big, but we have to give attention to all the other goings-on of the three other characters. No matter how writer/director Michael Patrick King tries to unite all these disparate episodes, nothing will unite them in the time allotted.

There are also other major problems. There is nothing more contrived than having Lilly (The Uptight One's daughter) take the phone just when Big is calling The Star. (Side Note: I couldn't help but wonder why, after we learn in the final episode of the series Mr. Big's real name--the most generic name imaginable--why all the women INSISTED on still calling him Big. It's as if they're still going by the code they'd established on the show, which shows they haven't moved on, which also shows this film was made strictly for the fans, but I digress).

We then have to endure all these little bits that don't have anything to do with the story/stories themselves. The audience gets not one, not two, but THREE fashion shows, and while all the women on SATC love clothes, we are left to wonder, 'how is this relevant to the plot/plots?

One part I especially hated was the actual wedding ceremony between Big & The Star (or lack thereof). When The Star is told by Big over the phone that he's not coming, is there anything more clichéd than having the phone drop from her hand in slow-motion? Is there nothing more clichéd than Big contemplating a flower from The Star's bouquet?

Of course, when it comes to Sex and The City, the actual performers are not the stars. It's the clothes! As mentioned earlier, we are treated to three fashion montages, and I wondered if King couldn't have cut them to move the story along. It's amazing that for a film of its length, it still found very little to nothing to say. Yes, the costumes were lovely (Marie Antoinette would have been proud) but when the focus becomes the clothing and not the story/stories, then what is the point?

Again and again I keep asking 'what is the point?'

Overall, I found that while the four actresses had their parts down pat, I didn't want to spend any time with them. The Slutty One is so amazingly self-absorbed and horny, The Uptight One so dumb and a little bit bigoted (she will eat only prepacked pudding and bottled water in a five-star Mexican resort because its a Mexican resort, i.e. it must be dirty says the Queen of the WASPs--and converting to Judaism does not make you abdicate your throne, Queen Charlotte), The Other One so cold and unforgiving and even cruel. The Star struck me as just neurotic, fashion-conscious and weak.

I found each of these women so remarkably shallow I'm at a lost to understand why so many women (and yes, many gay men and my three straight male friends) would care about any of them.

There were points of logic I didn't understand. For the Valentine's Day sequence with The Slutty One, she covers her 49-year-old naked body with sushi. All I kept wondering was, 'how did she put everything on herself without anyone helping her?' (Is it strange to think it would be difficult to put some vegetables on your vagina, and then some rice on your nipples, without something falling off?).

I also didn't understand Jennifer Hudson as The Star's assistant (whether she had many assistants a la Murphy Brown or this was a new thing I wouldn't venture a guess...which reminds me, Candice Bergen has a cameo as Carrie's editor at Vogue, which wasn't bad). She really had very little to do except unpack all of The Star's boxes and sort through her mail (and Oscar notwithstanding, she gives a blank performance, pointless, rather like the movie itself).  My guess is that Hudson is there to show that there are black people in New York, something which I think the show was criticized for.

Giving one throwaway role to one black actress doth not diversity make.

As for the men, they are pretty useless (like on the show). Noth's John/Big was almost frightening in his appearance, oozing an exaggerated self-confidence that was bordering on creepy. Again, when he told The Star the penthouse was theirs by saying, "I got it" (meaning he could afford it), I wondered what exactly he did for a living.  Did they ever mention that on the show?

Handler and Eigenberg did manage to create more sympathetic characters, though given the length of the film they had very little to do. (Side Note: while I strongly object to adultery, given how The Other One had basically locked Steve out of her life, I don't blame him for his indiscretion, and I disagree with The Other One's assessment that he "broke us". I think SHE broke them, not so much by refusing him sexually, but by refusing him emotionally to the point he sought human connection outside his marriage to have any kind of connection).

There is even confusion sometimes about what exactly was going on. In a "comedy" bit, The Uptight One ends up defecating in her pants while in Mexico as part of the group comforting The Star after her failed nuptuals. My friend Fidel Gomez, Jr. (one of the three straight fans who may or may not be dead) thought it was because she took a small sip of water while in the shower (side note: Kristin Davis does have a nice body) and didn't think it funny. I disagreed with his assertion and told him it had to do with the fact that she ate nothing but prepackaged pudding (but I didn't think it funny either).  That, and not 'dirty water' at a five-star resort, gave her the runs.

This is a point of contention between us which will never get resolved, but I digress.


A film like Sex and The City can do one of two things: it can expand the fan base by letting newcomers into the story, or it can be made strictly for the fans. It's obvious that it was the second. In that respects, it is a failure because those not into this Cosmopolitan Cult won't A.) understand fully, and B.) care at all. A film adaptation of a television series I believe should do the former.

It certainly did with Wayne's World, because that production saw itself as an actual movie, not just a collection of more episodes/sketches. In the scene where The Slutty One is breaking up with Smith, she tells him, "I love you but I love me more". That seems a pretty apt motto for everything involving Sex and The City--the television series as well as the feature film.

I'm glad fans were able to get a fix and see their favorite characters three years on. They'll certainly get their money's worth. When Carrie gets jilted at the altar, I turned to my friend Fidel to see his reaction, only to observe he was crying. I saw the tears streaming down his cheek. I decided not to ask him if it was worse to get dumped over a text message or a Post-It note (I vote Post-It). The fans will love it, but everyone else will be bored with it.

Speaking for myself (and I am unanimous in this), I can tell Carrie Bradshaw, Charlotte York, Miranda Hobbes, and Samantha Jones, frankly, I'm just not that into you.

DECISION: D-

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