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Movie Time: Sex and the City

Up front, I'll have you know that $5.75 matinee prices still make me sad.

Everyone said the movie was fantastic.  I was so worried it wouldn't live up to my expectations, but it did.  My expectations, you understand, were not exceptionally high.  That's not really a criticism of the movie so much as I went in knowing that all I wanted to see was a bit more in the lives of the gals, and that's what I got.  A couple more hours to slip into the lives of women I've grown to love in spite of their many, many faults and/or unfortunate husband choices.  The movie was nothing to write home about on its own.  As a continuation of a TV series, though, like some luxury DVD feature, it was satisfying.

Let's start with...

The Less Than Great
Chief quibble #1: the number of scenes that had me going "Oh dear" and rolling my eyes to stare pointedly at the theater wall beside me.  I actually lost count, which was troubling, though not so troubling as the fact that there was rarely enough warning for me to realize I should look away, as suddenly I would be confronted with a flash of nipple or full-on intercourse before I whipped my eyes to the right.  I knew that had to be in there, just because audiences would throw fits if they didn't get the the title-promised sex they were accustomed to, but most of it felt so very unnecessary.  I mean, if you stop to think about it, surely talented writers could have expressed Samantha's frustrations without actually showing us what she saw in her neighbor's wild sex life.

As I read other reviews, though, apparently there was full-frontal male nudity at one point, and that I thankfully did not see.  *applauds self* 

Chief quibble #2: Jennifer Hudson.  I'm sure she is a wonderful and lovely person in real life, but she has just had so much praise lavished upon her by the media for being all amazing despite her size and/or being gypped on American Idol, that it felt like stunt casting to me.  I don't care how many times they tried to bash "Louise from St. Louis" into my head (and oh, they tried hard), I just kept seeing Jennifer Hudson.  As a result, her lines came off scripted and rehearsed, which is a shame since I feel like Louise's role was meant to bring a real, regular person into the somewhat unbelievable world in which these women operate.  And a lesser-known actress might have pulled it off.

Regular quibble #1: Miranda & Steve.  No, I'm not even talking about their two wholly eye-scarring and unnecessary sex scenes (which, you could maybe make a case for having the first one.  The second one, OH HOLY HELL NO and I will be pouring bleach into my brain for weeks even though I only saw a second of it.  My love for this couple only extends so far).  I hated pretty much the whole handling of it.  I knew he was going to cheat on her, which pissed me off when I first heard it.  But surprisingly, the cheating in and of itself was a very minor part in the movie, a past action merely referenced and not shown.  The lack of buildup made Miranda's instantaneous and irreversible GET THE HELL OUT OF MY LIFE reaction seem extremely over the top and kind of unwarranted.  

It went on for a ridiculously long time without making any progress, which was a bit boring.  Halfway through the movie, I started trying to work out how they might patch things up, and I figured Carrie would forgive Big first and go through with the marriage, which in turn would soften Miranda's heart enough to forgive Steve.  I had a beautiful scenario all worked out in my head, with emotion and tears and promises.  And then I got a marriage counselor.  SERIOUSLY.  A MARRIAGE COUNSELOR.  Way to wreck the emotional quotient!  As nice as the reunion on the bridge was, with the hugging and desperate kissing and Steve's face breaking my heart all to pieces, the fact that it was so formally and clinically arranged beforehand took some of the pleasure out of it.  And then of course, their ultimate resolution is all...brain-bleach bedroom time.  I mean, I possibly could have handled normal lovemaking!  Possibly!  When I watched it without my mother!  But that?  Uh-uh.  No.  My sails are all out of wind.  What a disappointing resolution for my beloved couple.  Was it so much to ask for a family scene at the end?

I do appreciate that their dog made a brief appearance at one point, though.  I appreciate it a lot.  :D

Regular quibble #2: I spent the whole movie waiting for bad things to happen to Charlotte and Harry.  It didn't even have to be permanent, just a little bit of punishment for Harry's ugly existence!  I mean, uh, "conflict."  Conflict is good.  Gives a story action and stuff.  Isn't that usually how they justify things?  Tell me why the one time I actually want bad things to happen to a couple, they sail along all happy and glowy and PREGNANT.  *rolls eyes*  I get nothing.  Mildly bad things happen to Charlotte - "poughkipsied in her pants" cannot be justified in any way, as far as I'm concerned; was one of the freaking stupidest and not funny things in the whole movie; and while her outdoor showering doesn't specifically break my Rules of Nudity, it blatantly flaunts the fact that it's tap-dancing on the line by showing everything but - but Ugly Harry's just all "Still in love and have a totally and undeservingly beautiful family, go me!"  *is annoyed*  

Regular quibble #3: I will never say that a movie with characters I know is too long - because I want as much time with them as possible, understand?  Give us maximum raw material to work the fanfic and daydreams with - but I will say that this movie dragged a bit in the second half.  I mean, the first 40 minutes or so, or however long it was up to the wedding day, was pretty brilliant.  Everything was great fun to watch, even when you knew it was going way too well, way too fast not to have a catastrophe.  But I wish they'd pushed more of the friendship scenes into the beginning.  God knows the friendship between the 4 is the biggest draw about the show, but by Christmas it was like "OK, can we stop hating men now?  No?  Dammit."  That's what made the movie drag - they started off so well, and then they just couldn't keep the momentum going.  But, moving on:

The Good!
+ I'm not a fan of Mr. Big, normally.  I really can't stand him in most of the series, until the finale.  Finale Big is a whole different character, softened and romantic.  To my great pleasure, it turns out that Finale Big is the man in this movie.  I loved him the whole way through, from the way he just gazes at Carrie with a smile as she exclaims over the gorgeous new apartment to the slew of retyped love letters she finally finds at the end.  Even when he's invisible, they're the central storyline in the movie, and for once they deserve the spotlight.  I'm just going to pretend that horribly awkward "So do you want to get married?" conversation happened in some other, abbreviated way, as I was writhing and dying of embarrassment in my seat. 

I think my very favorite bit of the whole movie may be the reading/cuddling in bed, with her teasing him about his classmates "like Volataire" being in the book of Greatest Love Letters, and him scoffing at her for actually checking out library books and for getting all starry-eyed over the romantic fluff...when clearly he adores everything she does.  Actually, I think it was the simple gesture of her stealing his reading glasses that sold me hook, line and sinker on them.  It's a cute moment of banter, but it also signals extremely comfortable intimacy - and as a bonus note, none of that old "OH MY GOD WE HAVEN'T HAD SEX IN THREE DATES WE'RE DOOMED" anxiety.

I lost track of all the cute moments they had.  And is my memory full of holes, or was Carrie the only woman who kept all her clothes on throughout the movie?  I'm racking my brain, but either I was exceptionally good at dodging bad stuff, or she and Big were Cute the whole way through.  I never thought I would say this, but God, I loved them.  Oh, oh!  And the moment at the end, when they finally do get married at the courthouse, and he tells her he knows she would have liked the girls to be there...which is why he called them?  FANTASTIC.  

+ The photo shoot for Vogue was beautiful.  I loved all those pictuers, especially the Westwood dress, which - I'm sorry - is 16,500 times better than that ugly thing she ultimately got married in.  That thing is not even a dress.  I'm a great believer in inexpensive and/or vintage wedding dresses, especially if you wear one not specifically designed as a wedding dress, but that had distinctly pantsuit-like qualities.  Ew.  I know Carrie's fashion sense is often questionable, but...wait, I'm in the "good" section, aren't I?  

In that case, gorgeous photo shoot.  And the choosing to get married in the library?  You know, even knowing Carrie's a writer, an author, I never really imagined her having that rapport with older books.  Especially library books.  I always saw her as being solely caught up with the shiny new stuff.  So that fact that she's so enraptured by the (admittedly gorgeous) library that she wants to get married there endeared her to me a whole bunch.  

+ And speaking of the wedding, I still don't understand the blue bird in Carrie's hair.  Just a touch too odd for me.  And I frankly think Miranda outshone the bride, in a stunning blue dress that nicely offset her red hair, which itself was beautifully curled under.  And I'm still not sure why Charlotte got shafted with the boring black dress.  

+ Did I forget to mention the closet proposal?  I did, didn't I.  Well, that was beautiful and completely made up for the awkward conversation at the beginning of the movie. 

+ Charlotte's first daughter, Lily, is SO MUCH cuter as a 3-year-old than a baby.  Like, cutest child ever.  I no longer mind the whole Chinese adoption thing at all, as they look adorable together, and Charlotte makes the most fantastic mommy in the world.  Really.  Insanely cute at the all-girls sleepover.  Let's just try to forget about the part where I wanted to murder her the next day for hanging up on Big and then surreptitiously stealing Carrie's phone and literally ruining the wedding.  I'm telling you, Miranda may have planted the seed of doubt in Big's mind, BUT IT IS THAT DEMON CHILD'S FAULT.  *cough* Other than that, uh, totally cute!

+ Speaking of cute things, CHARLOTTE'S DOGGIES!  Oh my God, greatest thing ever to see Charlotte walking not only Elizabeth Taylor, but her two mixed-breed offspring.  I love how thorough they were about rounding up all the recurring characters.  :P  And it was a nice parallel, in a way I've never actually connected before, to Charlotte's own daughter not looking quite like her but belonging all the same.  Now, get with the times, Carrie!  You're the last of the Fab Four without a pet!

+ I honestly didn't think Smith was going to be in the movie, given his total absence from the previews with Samantha salivating all over Random Hunky Guy, so I was pleasantly surprised to find he and Samantha were still in their relationship.  Still not back to his Hot Long Hair standards of attractiveness, but he really does have a dazzling smile.  Far too muscled for my general tastes, but oddly appealing all the same.  He didn't exactly have a starring role, but I liked what we did see.  And frankly, I was amazed that Samantha didn't cheat on him at any point.  Also, for once I think it would have solved some problems and possibly saved them if she'd just scratched the itch once.  More on this in the next section.

+ I waver on which friendship duo I like best, but I think Miranda & Carrie might be one of my favorites.  The shopping (for Halloween costumes, among other things) was great, for one.  And then, the only time I came vaguely close to crying - other than New Year's Eve, with poor Miranda being all alone and then Carrie showing up at her door - was the Valentine's Day dinner where Miranda finally admitted what she'd said to Big, tears in her eyes, and and Carrie stormed out and refused to speak to her. 

+ Sanford and, uh, Irritating Sicilian Whose Name I Can't Remember had relatively minor roles in the movie, which made me happy, as they both annoy me a lot unless taken in very small doses.  The doses were appropriately small, and I subsequently found them funny rather than aggravating.  Especially that short, awkward kiss at New Year's.    

+ Loved the very sweet phone conversation Carrie & Big had the night before, which started with me wanting to slap him silly for getting all panicky, and ended with me practically purring at the way she handled it, reassuring him about both the vows and the wedding - "just you and me" - and to simply write "I will love you" if all else failed.  Reinforced my still-new belief that they may actually be made for each other.  That, and the part where she reminded him that the good news is, "we have both already done everything possible to screw this up."  So true. 

+ Charlotte's hilarious attempt to run waddle out of the restaurant upon seeing Big, only to make a big scene and draw his attention, followed by her getting so upset/cursing the day he was born (HEE) that she goes into labor...was another of my favorite bits.  I've decided that I very much like their rapport, and wish she'd been able to maintain the same benefit of the doubt for him that she had for Steve.  Poor man looked so earnest and hopeful when he saw her, figuring that out of all the women, she was his best shot at convincing Carrie to speak to him again.  And him insistently rushing her to the hospital was awkwardly cute.

+ I AM still terribly glad that Charlotte got to be pregnant and have a second baby that was her own flesh and blood, though.  I am stubbornly fond of genetic links, no matter what anyone says.  I liked the Lily-and-Rose thing.  And I guess they do make kind of a cute and perfect family, if only I could get over my raging hatred for Ugly Harry for two minutes.  (Mom: Is it a crime to be unattractive?  Me: When your wife is that pretty, and you're a fictional character, YES!)

The Puzzlesome
-I like the fact that Samantha got a dog, even a little rat of a Yorkie dog, but having to watch that humping habit over and over again?  Disgusting.  In a related note, I want to know what kind of shelter adopts its dogs out to random people passing on the street who don't even live in the state.  Because that's a red-tape-free shelter I want to adopt from.

-Also, I am a little saddened that Samantha dumped Smith, if only because for the most part, despite twists and turns, the movie preserved all of the TV show's happy endings.  And then they took this one away from me.  Yet, weirdly, it didn't devastate me.  There was a lot of class in having Samantha do everything she could to stay in, and I liked her coming back to the fact that he'd stayed with her through chemotherapy.  I liked the way he knew right away where she was going with "We need to talk," like he'd always known this couldn't last forever and in the back of his mind he'd been resigned to this happening someday.  I suppose in the grand scheme of things, it makes sense for their relationship to end, and I can console myself with the thought that they had 5 years, which is a length record she'll probably never break again.  Doesn't stop me from making a sadface, though.

-OK, here's the thing I really don't understand: why was Big's misstep so much worse than Steve's?  Steve HAD SEX WITH SOMEONE ELSE.  BREAKING MARRIAGE VOWS.  Big failed to show up to his wedding.  Admittedly pretty bad, especially considering his past transgressions, but still not on the same level!  AND FURTHERMORE, he realized what an idiot he was being about fifteen minutes after this fact and bust a couple of traffic laws in a desperate attempt to remedy it.  There were apologies in the middle of the street!  And what does he get for his trouble?  A hysterical fiancee beating him over the head with her (very expensive, Mom noted) bouquet of flowers and breaking all contact with him.

Both men spend months sending unacknowledged apologies.  Yet while the other women wonder why Miranda can't forgive Steve, they all agree that what Big did was clearly The Worst Thing Ever In The History Of The World.  And that's what baffles me.  Yes, I can sympathize with Carrie sobbing that he humiliated her.  I can even maybe sympathize with her falling apart when she thinks they're over and sinking into depression so deep she won't eat or leave the bed, even though she mostly did that to herself. I cannot sympathize with her making herself miserable for months afterwards and refusing to hear any of his apologies.  It was clearly a forgivable offense.  You have to survive the humiliation of seeing your friends and loved ones afterwards anyway; wouldn't it be easier to do so if you still had him in your life?  Once the anger burns off, if he comes crawling back, why would you drive him off?

As for Steve's offense,well, a bit less forgivable.  After Miranda's "So it's my fault because I let the sex go out of my marriage?", I realized, yeah, I was kinda guilty of thinking that.  I promptly slapped myself for that line of thinking, since it is entirely Steve's fault for going out and choosing to cheat on his wife.  But I still think it's just the teensiest bit unfair of Miranda to act all mightily outraged and claim that he's ruined their trust forever, "broke them," when she appeared to have mentally checked out of their marriage already and reburied herself in her work.  So what Steve did was...I'm not going to say understandable, exactly, but surely after a couple of months of punishment, I should think the complete misery on his face would be enough to start working towards forgiveness.  It's Steve.  Does he strike you as a compulsive cheater?  It's not like you uncovered a secret affair.  He told you about one time.  Isn't honesty supposed to count for something?  I don't know.  I just felt like they struck the wrong chord with this storyline and didn't set it up right to make the conflict drag on as long as it did.  And wow, I just cannot let this go.

*sneaks in one more thing* Also, the whole mess of cliche lines he was bleating out in his initial confession, "it was just once" and "it didn't mean anything" sent me hurtling right back to Joan of Arcadia.  That's not a place I want to go! 

-Mom and I were discussing which woman looked the most changed/the oldest, and we agreed that Charlotte looks exactly the same - gift of eternal youth and beauty, that one - but debated on the rest.  She thought Miranda looked oldest, but I say that distinction definitely belongs to Carrie.  Even when she's all made up and pretty, she has a lot of premature wrinkles around her eyes, and her skin just looks kind of tired.  Even her extraordinarily fit body looks more plain skinny than trim-and-sexy.  A little bit sad.

-Also, Carrie needs to never be a brunette again.  That is all.

FINAL CONCLUSION: Mom was enthralled by the fashion, of course - she's always maintained that the clothes are her favorite part of the show/why she fell in love with it in the first place - but we both agreed that the writing could have been tighter.  I don't blame them for the cliche plotlines they followed, but as I said, the friendship scenes should have carried the movie, and instead they were dragged down by the broken relationship issues.  

There were a lot of good things, though, even if I mostly mean Carrie/Big and the dogs.  First movie I've deemed worthy of seeing in theaters this year, and it was indeed worth the price of admission.

I am satisfied.  But now, as it is 5:30 AM, I have to leave the cozy computer lab and go back to my apartment to get ready for work.  Sigh.

Comments

rainbowstevie
Jun. 18th, 2008 12:41 am (UTC)
I was really bothered by the discrepancy in treating Steve/Big.
I kept thinking it was weird that none of the characters seemed to realize that. I thought maybe they were intentionally setting up for a big lightswitch-flipping-moment, but then Miranda started using literally the exact same lines on Carrie that Steve had used on her, and yet that apparently triggered nothing in her memory.

As for Charlotte's Mexico tragedy, such as it was, I just find it sad that in at least half the reviews I read, people were going "LOL FUNNIEST PART!"

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