In the interests of science, this movie review will be handled in a little different way. My friend Melanie is a long-time fan of the show, and went to see the movie with her mom. I had watched maybe half of one show in the first season and just couldn’t get into it, and never went back — I had no intention of seeing the movie at all. Sure, I know some things from the series, thanks to its ubiquity in pop culture media, but basically I am a noob. I’ll start with my review, and end with Melanie’s.
I convinced two people who were equally disinclined to see this movie to go with me in the interests of science. One was a female lit major type who cringes every time the show’s dialogue reaches her ears. The other was a male nerd-type friend who really, really is uncomfortable in girlie movies. No, I could not convince the boyfriend to go.
The film opens with a little back-story montage just to summarize the dynamics of the four leads and how long they have been close, and through what. It was handled neatly and efficiently and was much appreciated later in the film. The plot line of the film centers around Carrie (Sarah Jessica Parker) and her relationship to Mr. Big (Chris Noth), a man that Entertainment Weekly and the other characters tells me was a huge epic romance in her life, but on screen with none of that behind him, was…kind of boring. He seems nice enough, and he’s richer than anything. What I could gather about Carrie (had I not known from outside sources) from the movie is that she thinks nothing of $500 shoes, $500 purses, so she would need a zillionaire just to pay the rent in Manhattan, never mind support her sartorial habits. Labels labels labels, crushing any sense of attractiveness in one’s style, opting for ridiculous and outrageous rather than flattering or even painless to the eye. The amount of awful clothes and insane conspicuous consumption in this movie was very queasy-making.
That said, the story swings into a whole lot of huge things (I’m including Dante) happening to our foursome, some of which we can react to without knowing any back-story, and some of which we can’t. It’s not clear Miranda (Cynthia Nixon) is with that guy in the first place, he’s simpering and unpleasant the whole movie, It’s not clear why Big is such a big deal to Carrie, what do they have to talk about except spending money? At the same time, certain characters’ responses reminded me of good friends of mine, and I have to say, every female performance rang true to me. Most of the time I was wondering why a man was doing what he was doing, but everything the ladies did made perfect sense (after they got dressed, anyway). It did have a lot of heart, and it did have a lot more humor than I imagined I would be able to get. There were some things that one could tell were for the fans and that’s great, I applaud that in a movie adaptation, but it didn’t make me a new fan. I missed many layers, but besides the male motives, the movie does stand on its own as a movie, so check it out.
My lit friend: “I didn’t hate it nearly as much as I expected to. I didn’t hate it at all.”
My guy friend’s response: “Not so much.”
Melanie’s review of Sex and the City
Matinee (caveat: for fans of the show, matinee plus snacks)
For fans of the show it was everything we could want in the movie version: bigger, longer, and the chance to get to see what our 4 TV girlfriends are up to four years later. Although there is some helpful character introduction through the familiar Carrie-voice-over trope, if you didn’t watch the show then most of what happens in this movie will either a.) make zero sense or b.) fail to make you care about what’s happening to these characters. Which is too bad because Carrie, Miranda, Samantha, and to a lesser degree, Charlotte experience life-changing events, some larger than others but all affecting. Some of the movie events aren’t enough by themselves to suck you in if you’re not a fan. But at the same time, they are major life changing events.
Much has been said about the silliness of SatC (the clothes, the “nothing happens outside of Manhattan” ethos, the careless way in which the women treat men-although I disagree with that last assessment. While there have been many men in and out of these characters’ lives, the goal for all, Samantha excepted, has been to find lasting love. If it take going through some bad apples to get the good one, well then that’s life. At its core it has always been a story about four friends who stick together through thick and thin.
Four years after the show ended the ladies are as close as they can be given the circumstances: Miranda and Charlotte are married with kids; Carries is still single but in a committed relationship with Mr. Big; and Samantha is out in Hollywood, managing the career of her younger boyfriend, Smith. There isn’t a lot that happens in this movie that wouldn’t be unfamiliar to anyone who’s seen a romantic comedy. There is betrayal, despair, grief, and finally, hope and joy at the end of this couture-laden tunnel but any connection I felt to what was happening on screen was based on being a loyal viewer of the show. Even as I cried along with Miranda’s character, it was clear to me that in order to fully empathize with her gut-wrenching pain you had to know her back-story (Cynthia Nixon’s performance is worth the price of a ticket). I’d have to hear from someone who’s seen the movie but didn’t watch the show for their take but I tried to watch the movie with Cinerina (not a fan of the TV show) on my shoulder for impartiality. [Ed. Note: awww!]
Throughout the movie my companion and I (another SatC loyalist, my mom) were apt to say out loud, “after all that she went through!” and “ha, typical Samantha” but sotto voce, of course. However, everyone around us was doing the same! Again, this is one movie where the built-in audience factor helps. The catch-22 being that those who weren’t fans of the show will probably stay away.
Should they stay away? As much as I abhor the term, SatC is the chick flick. About women for women. A celebration of female friendships and what women do for each other. There has been (as only to be expected) lots of feminist backlash about the “silliness” of their lifestyles — not that they are sluts, and quite frankly, there is not as much sex in the movie as the title suggests, but more that these women are frivolous. I think it’s mostly BS and there’s other stuff going on under the couture and the fabulousness. But here’s what I see as the core of this movie (and the show): men may come and go but in order to survive (and thrive) in life you need to be strong and you need your girlfriends. What’s more “sisterly” than that?
Ok so, draw your own conclusions, Constant and Loyal Readers, but you can’t say it won’t be an informed decision.
MPAA Rating R-strong sexual content, graphic nudity and language
Release date 5/30/08
Time in minutes 145
Director Michael Patrick King
Studio New Line Cinema