Tuesday, June 10, 2008

A TV Movie: Sex and the City hits the screen

I just saw the Sex and the City movie. I watched the whole series again in anticipation (a retrospect review to come shortly) and... (ALERT: SPOILERS AHEAD!!!) ... I had many of the same problems with the film that I had with the series; mostly that the men got a tough deal. My brother came home from the movie and the only thing he had to report was that the men got completely beat up for 98% of it.

For some part, I agree with him, mostly on the Big front. Just like in the TV series, every time Big (aka John James Preston) experienced a human moment of doubt or fear, Carrie would dump him and blame it completely on his "inability to commit". After the plentiful examples (given above) of this in the show, the movie managed to somehow embellish this annoying tradition with some turquoise feathers, a lot of white flowers and a dab of over-acting. Big was a villain in Carrie's, Samantha's, Miranda's, Charlotte's, (writer/director) Michael Patrick King's and the audience's eyes. Luckily, Carrie has a moment of realization when audiences are given hope that perhaps she has found a way to see Big as something other than a villain and herself as something other than a victim. This "I let the wedding get bigger than Big" moment of truth, however, is instantly drowned when Carrie finds a way to somehow blame Miranda for everything. It does allow for the inevitably predictable yet rushed "happy ending", but one brief and quickly forgotten moment of realization can hardly make up for Carrie's (and the film's)completely unfair treatment of Big. The man must really love her if he keeps coming back for more after that much blame being thrown his way.

As for the other 3 leading men, I didn't have a problem at all with how they were represented.

Yes Miranda overreacted to Steve's infidelity, but the film made it clear that she was overreacting and the other characters knew it. Carrie's response to Big's mistake was treated with the reverence of a judge handing down a life sentence to a heartless killer. Miranda's was acknowledged to be unfair and was a response very true to her character. Steve may have been put through the wringer but it came from an honest place.

I really liked how Smith came off in the film (not that he ever came off as anything other than perfect throughout the series). This is, I think, where my brother got the wrong idea. To the unfamiliar eye it may seem as though Samantha's feelings of unhappiness are being blamed on Smith. She resents that he has become the centre of her life. But Smith is never anything but sweet and considerate towards Samantha. In actuality, Samantha's antagonist in the film is Samantha; she's allowed herself to be pulled too far from who she really is. Sam knows this, and while she may resent Smith for being the centre of her life she never blames him for his being there, she knows it was her who put him there and it's her who has to change it. Samantha's is, I think, my favourite story-line in the film. She breaks Smith's heart but she does it not because she's blaming him for everything that's wrong with their relationship (like Carrie) or because she's afraid of trusting someone who's hurt her (like Miranda) but because she is being true to herself.

and as for Harry... well, Harry hasn't been anything but perfect since he got the tea bag situation under control and learned to put something between his ass and the white couch. In fact, Harry (though he is drastically under utilized in the film) is the sole voice cheering for Big. Harry doesn't say that Big didn't do anything wrong and he certainly doesn't say that Carrie did, but he does suggest that, perhaps, Big is worthy of a little forgiveness.

Now, on to my only other real pet peeve about the film... Stanford and Anthony. All I'm going to say is 1) why did bit player Anthony get twenty times more screen time than Carrie's final best friend and sidekick Stanford? and 2) the fact that they are the only 2 featured gay men on the show does not mean that they should be thrown together in the end. In fact, that is incredibly irresponsible character development on the part of a usually relationship-conscious show. Not only did Stanford and Anthony hate each other (as of the end of the series) but Stanford was happily dating the man of his dreams, they even had a summer home in the Hamptons together. If the writers felt the need to throw together the unlikely pair of Stanford and Anthony they should have at least given the story a little more time to be explained.

I didn't like the predictable nature of the writing. I didn't like the exposition and clips from the show at the beginning. I didn't like that Samantha had moved away. I didn't like Carrie (but I almost never do).

I DID like Carrie's apartment makeover.

I liked the callbacks to the series.

Jennifer Hudson? I liked her, and I usually don't like her. I liked St. Louise from St. Louis and I liked what she did for Carrie.

I liked Charlotte's storyline about feeling like she can't simply be happy when her friends' lives didn't work out as well as hers.

I LOVED the sequence when Carrie tried on old outfits from her closet. I loved the line "it took 4 friends 3 days to pack 20 years into 38 boxes".

I liked the wedding dress sequence for the photo shoot.

I liked seeing Enid (Candace Bergen) again.

I liked that there was meaty Miranda-Carrie stuff at the heart of the film.

I liked it, it worked. I loved seeing the girls again and knowing that they can still make me laugh and cry. I only wish that, after years of wishing this film into production, they could have found themselves a better script that could have really made a splash.


Nadia said...

I'm curious...Why is telling your partner that he broke your relationship by sleeping with another woman labeled an overreaction? I agree that Carrie was being a hypocritical drama queen in her desire to force a public, overblown wedding on Big (didn't she break up with Aidan because of his pushing and her marriage-related fears) but why is cheating suddenly considered a small indiscretion? Not seeing eye to eye on the number of wedding guests is one thing (especially after she makes a promise to him to keep it small) but disagreeing on whether you're going to screw other people is quite a bit more serious (especially when you're married).

Kelly said...

I wasn't intending to imply that Steve's infidelity wasn't a big deal... it was a very big deal. He betrayed her trust, and for Miranda almost nothing hurts more. But the focus of Miranda's story line was not Steve's infidelity but rather that (in the eyes of all the other characters)Miranda overreacted to it. She had every right to be angry and hurt, to take some time away or demand couples counselling, anything like that, but immediately ending the marriage (especially with Brady in the picture) when the love was still mutually there and refusing to believe that 1) it was anything other than a personal attack on her and 2) he really was sorry, is Miranda putting up her emotional walls again. It was her overreacting. Carrie (the suposed "voice of the audience") told us so.

Excellent point about Big by the way, I'd forgotten that her break-up with Aidan touched on the same issues.

Nadia said...

I totally forgot that I posted here; glad to see a reply.

What I posted was a result of frustration, mostly at Carrie. She seems to believe that forgiving Miranda for her words of warning to Big is somehow just as hard as forgiving Steve's one-night stand. Really? Am I really asked to believe that lesson? Well, I don't buy it for one bit Miss Carrie Bradshaw.

Actually, I don't even see how Miranda could be blamed for Big's actions (I didn't see her holding a gun to the guy's head). If a any man is that willing to listen to criticisms of his upcoming nuptials, then he's not ready to get hitched. Big knew what happened between Miranda and Steve and he knew Miranda was hurting. Why did he let her words bother him so? Because the seed of fear was already planted in him and it didn't help to see his future wife ignore him in favor of completely superficial things.

My point is that I always see Carrie exaggerating her problems. She acts as if Miranda slept with Big before the big day. So, if your post was conveying Carrie's view of Miranda's actions then I completely agree with you; of course Carrie would gravitate to Steve's aid, they're both cheaters! But from where I'm sitting, I find Miranda's course believable and I understand it. Part of Steve's explanation of why he did what he did involved saying that he wasn't really having much sex with Miranda. He might not have been trying to blame her but it sure sounded like "If you'd had more sex with me I might not have done cheated..." and I can understand why she took it personally. I guess I sympathize with Miranda because, throughout the show, I've always seen Steve as a big kid who could never understand how much pressure she was under and expected her to drop whatever she was doing in order to play with him (sometimes his attitude was great in helping Miranda see the lighter side of life but at other times it was just plain infuriating). Maybe she wasn't thinking of Brady when she distanced herself but she needed to regain stability and perspective, to come out of shell-shock. Living with a man who would have surely moped and begged her for forgiveness wouldn't have given her any time to herself. I don't think staying at the house would have made for a happy living arrangement for anyone.

And as far as Miranda being criticized by her buddies for shutting Steve out of her life completely, it's funny that Carrie would think this action was an overreaction since she (Carrie) completely ignored Big for at least six months. Miranda allowed Steve to enter her new apartment to drop off or pick up Brady; Carrie avoided Big like the plague. And while Charlotte and Samantha seemed to really hurt alongside Carrie, they kept nagging Samantha to stop being such a bitch and give Steve one more chance. What is up with that? Is it because they all expected more from Steve? Well, if that's the case, why can't they understand that Steve's "good guy" status might have made his actions even more capable of causing pain? It's like being slammed by a train that's come out of nowhere.

Whew, can't believe I wrote so much. I guess I must be really disappointed with many parts of this movie.

Kelly said...

I understand your frustration with Carrie. My biggest problem with the entire series is that Carrie blows her problems way out of proportion. Particularly, whenever Big and her break up it is usually her running at the smallest mistake on his part and then crying heartbreak. It's never fair to Big, she did the same thing with other men on the series and it's most certainly not fair to her friends who go through even more traumatic events than her and never seem to matter as much. Carrie is without a doubt my least favourite of the core four for many of the reasons you laid out in your complaints about the film.