Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Sexually Charged

Sex and the City: The Movie - Michael Patrick King - 2008 - 8/10

There's nudity, graphic sex scenes, flatulence jokes and pubic jokes, and this isn't Beerfest or the next movie from the directors of Beerfest, but Sex and the City: The Movie. The movie struggles from a bout of identity confusion as it waffles between Vogue fashion show and humor even Adam Sandler wouldn't touch. But for the most part, it works, despite the movie's loss of the show's perfect balance between witty humor and dramatic sexcapades.


The movie picks up four years later after the dramatic conclusion of season six with Carrie and Big about to live happily ever after in a new apartment, Samantha in LA managing the career of her boy-toy, and Charlotte living with her beautiful adopted little girl Lily. And then there's Miranda. I always hated her character and her character's plotline but Miranda's career is destroying her marriage and blah blah blah it just gets annoying from there. But happiness starts to unravel when Carrie's wedding plans begin to wear down the happiness she and Big share and Samantha grows tired of monogamy and that evil "R" word, relationship. Charlotte meanwhile enjoys total happiness while Miranda quickly descends into yes-I-can-be-more-annoying-than-you-even-thought-possible mode.


The first half IS little more than a Vogue fashion show and it does it in a way that gratuitously genders the movie. Sure the show is for girls, I get it (cue comparisons to why Entourage is for guys) but the show was still funny and a bunch of guys watched it for the sex (for a kid who never had cable before to discover Sex and the City...). But the movie's fashion is thrust down your throats in pointless inefficient scenes that have the nerve to inform you of the exact designer names, sizes, and prices. Do you want your receipt?

The second act of the movie moves in a much better direction - a much more entertaining one - albeit at the cost of some respect for the show. While the humor on the show was usually based on the hilarity of awkward situations or the fact that one character could be so blunt, "Bye. Good Sex." But the movie struggles to reach that witty humor nexus and instead relies on cheap gags that would seem politically incorrect in most frat comedies. Apparently women find crapping your pants and disgusting pubic hair hilarious. And guys are the "pigs" who go crazy when they see boobs in National Lampoon direct-to-DVDs but Sex and the City can't wait to up the ante and throw in a little male frontal nudity.

By the end of the movie its become painfully obvious that all of the other characters and plotlines have received painfully short shrift due to Carrie's storyline hogging all the attention, aided by an unnecessary new character to the show's dynamic (played very well by Jennifer Hudson). Charlotte's absolute happiness is pretty much assumed from the get go and her character pretty much has ZERO conflict. Samantha's "conflict" seems a little petty and the resolution seems like a foregone conclusion. Miranda's conflict is probably the most realistic and I would have liked it if I would have sympathized (or empathized) with Miranda at all, but I just learned to hate her more.

But then in the car ride home with a die-hard Sex and the City fan awaiting my opinion of a movie she'd already seen several times I realized that the movie was actually pretty good. Sure there were things I would change to be more true to the show. But what they did change appealed to their core viewers - who rewarded them by buying tickets several times. Just accepting the movie for what it was did a hell of a lot for me to realize that for what it was, the movie was pretty good. In terms of the story that fans wanted to see, the story delivered. In terms of following the characters and trying hard to reach the same tempo of the show, the movie succeeded.

The acting was good, which was hard for me to admit because besides these two characters, I pretty much hate Sarah Jessica Parker and Chris Noth, but they did wonders. The rest of the characters had little screentime to really do more than they did in a 25-minute episode but the addition of Jennifer Hudson added a solid performance from a character who seemed genuine, and someone that most fans could relate to.

What really surprised me was (despite how predictable the ending became after a few scenes) was that the movie did not leave itself open to an obvious sequel. This surprised me because I thought the show would reach a midway point - resolution of the storylines so half of the girls were still out in the cold. But there wasn't and now there is a push for a sequel and even I don't have an easy answer for what direction it could/should go in.

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