Saturday, May 31, 2008

Smells fishy (what? she was covered in Sushi, what did you think I meant?)

The other night I braved a sea (a sea I tell you) of rabid female fans in order to watch the Sex and the City Movie. I wonder if when a few weeks ago Manhola Dargis of the New York Times was clamoring about the summer movie season providing little recourse for women was she really talking about a lack of event films for women. If she was, well Manhola need worry no more, at least not for this week. For millions of female fans this movie is ground zero this summer. It's Iron Man, Batman and Indiana Jones combined. I found myself in line two hours ahead of time because of my friend Allison (a fan but "not a die-hard fan") wanting to see it for her birthday. Let me tell you, oh loyal reader, that was one crowded, rowdy line. People were camped out, lying down right on the floor of the theater, taking pictures, eating dinner, women were dressed to the nines and they brought all their classic accessories (handbags, cell phones, over-sized sunglasses, a gay man). Now at this point I should say that obviously not all women love Sex and the City (or that the ones who do are vapid morons-I'm not about to get into a whole ewww girls internet fanboy rhetoric here), some like Highlander and helpfully get rid of your extra furniture as they're moving out (THANKS DANI), but a lot of them do. I saw a large, large group of women (about a 15:1 female to male ratio) in the theater of a variety of ages, class and ethnicities and they seemed pretty enamored of the film. Or perhaps it was that they felt more enamored of the characters and getting an opportunity to see them again since the film itself is no great shakes. Executive producer, writer and director Michael Patrick King, has for all intents and purposes created a very long, predictable romantic comedy, or if you'd rather, offered up fans a five episode extra glossy finale marathon.

A fun, frisky, garishly glittery opening brings the audience up to date (and unfortunate newcomers a quick catch up). There's former WASP turned JAP Charlotte (Kristen Davis, who aside from a simple pregnancy and some unfortunate waddling scenes isn't given much to do other than look cute), responsible and dour mom and lawyer Miranda (Cynthia Nixon giving the movie it's dramatic heft), horny and brassy Samantha (Kim Catrall, who has less to do than Charlotte and can appear in New York like magic despite living in LA, is the clear audience favorite) and of course queen-bee Carrie (Sarah Jessica Parker) who's impending nuptials to Chris Noth's Mr. Big and where THAT story goes make up the bulk of the film's run-time. The film purports to not be a fairy-tale (a fact driven home by it's characters again and again) but how could it be anything else? If by my mere description of the characters hasn't tipped you off to their eventual fates might I bid you a happy welcome to the world of narrative fiction. I hope you'll enjoy your stay. These are women who despite all obstacles do find love and contrary to their remarks ARE defined by their relationships. There may be some bumps along the way, but ultimately it's nothing that a makeover, impromptu fashion show (hope you like clothing montages, there's at least four of them) or a bonding session filled with something-tinis won't fix. The film even goes so far as to have a digital age fairy godmother for Carrie, Louise (Jennifer "I have more Oscars than any of these veteran actors" Hudson). Hudson acquires a job as Parker's new personal assistant by saying that she came to New York in search of love. By all means try this technique at your next job interview and let me know how THAT goes.

Hudson helps Parker get her groove back in the film but she doesn't really do any kind of dramatic work to build off that Oscar win of hers. The actors themselves seem to be enjoying themselves and settle comfortably in their roles. Nixon and her on the outs hubby Steve (David Eigenberg) provide the film's gravitas as their marriage unravels and creates a series of other obstacles for the characters, though Noth and Parker also get some good scenes together. I'd be lying if I said I didn't get a few laughs out of the film, but not in proportion to it's run-time. Michael Patrick King knows how to push the fan buttons but the film never really escapes it's TV roots, it's just an episode of the show writ large. The moment this film was announced I think the entire would-be audience decided whether or not they'd be in attendance so ultimately you've made your decision, all I can say is that he film provides a nice tidy, FAIRY TALE bow to the world of these characters, which is probably for the best. As for the title, well there is plenty of New York City (at least they got that right-though it is a part of the city that I, no being a woman in her forties see much of) but a surprisingly little amount of on-screen sex. I found this problematic give the m.o. of the show, here was an opportunity for some well orchestrated eroticism on a mainstream screen, but with one short exception there really isn't that much sex or nudity on display. I hope now that this story is resolved these actresses and writers can go and create something smarter and more progressive to add to the romantic comedy genre rather than just be the big lazy fish in the increasingly dwindling pond.


Allison said...

I would like to point out that we were there 2 hours early so that we could eat dinner. We were only in line an hour before hand thankyouverymuch.

I think I should also be given credit (with humor royalties actually going to David) for what unquestionably was the funniest part of the movie watching experience.

El Gigante said...

For those of you who are actually curious about all this (and god help you if you are) Allison is referring to midway through the film during one of it's more dramatic scenes turning to me and saying [of Sarah Jessica Parker] "She looks like a foot." I literally had to bite my first to keep from laughing so hard that I'd completely interrupt the movie. people around me heard a great deal of stifled wheezing.

Football Chick said...

I totally agree that this movie was almost fatally flawed (coming to New York to find love? the final plot point with Carrie and Big? Charlotte's adpoted-daughter-as-prop?). But the key word is almost. Even though they all looked a little worse for wear, these are the same characters we already care about, so the work the movie actually has to do is completely short-handed. The main theme, which is that women rely on each other when the men in their lives disappoint them, is so universally true that it still works. It got me, anyway, skeptical though I was. Carrie showing up for Miranda on New Years - cheesy yes, but also cathartic.

And I know I'm not supposed to give away any plot, but when the line "I am humiliated" is screamed, is that not a little bit of convincing acting? A tiny bit?

WaywardJam said...

She does look like a foot! Watching her in those hideous mismatches of clothes and shoes was the main reason I could never sit through the entire series.

Nice write-up. Hit all the points that nagged at me, plus some I didn't mention.

I went with 3 women to see this - guess folks might have labeled me the 'gay man' of the group!

El Gigante said...

I'll give it up FB chick as big and over the top the "You humiliated me" scene was, it was well acted. Ridiculous, but well acted.