Saturday, May 31, 2008

Charlotte would shit herself. Literally.

Or, Bile and the City, Part 2: Bupkis and the City

Some minor SPOILERS, but nothing more than is given away by the trailer...

Many reviewers have tried encapsulating the Sex and the City phenomenon by describing it as "frivolous, frothy and fun." I never really saw it that way... mainly because I watched the show. Sure, these women took pleasures in pleasure and indulged in the odd pair of shoes rather than paying their rent. The women I knew also suffered miscarriages, tangled with self-destructive affairs, fought cancer... "Frivolous, frothy and fun" barely sum up the show, even if it was a comedy series at its core. They do, however, do a bit to tackle the movie spinoff. It's fun in entirely unintended ways, frothy to the point of indigestion, and as frivolous as the men on the sidelines.

Three years have passed and nothing has changed but a few new book deals, a Mandarin baby, and a move to LA. This mundane setup is partially to blame. Did we really need another season about Carrie trying to break through to Big? We're to assume the theme is about what happens after finding that great love (see: painfully on-the-nose Cinderella parallels), but that message gets easily lost around episode three of the long mini-marathon.

Mr. Big (or John, since we're now on first name basis) can't go through with Carrie's "happily ever after" ending that he himself suggested. The flower throwing, shrieking and melodrama has begun, but it ain't exactly like old times. There's definitely a charm to seeing these ladies together again. The actresses can't be faulted, but the characters can. I felt tinges of guilt when I wanted to (and did) openly laugh at Carrie, a character I'd come to love, in the pits of her most shattering moments. There's even more sinister guilt when Charlotte becomes the source of reason. Something is terribly, terribly wrong.

Sarah Jessica Parker asking Michael Patrick King for a re-write and an editor. He refuses.

Charlotte's "surprise" pregnancy feels shamefully tacked on, as is the time wasting addition of assistant Louise from St. Louis, an over-earnest woman who wears her heart on her sleeve... make that her keyring. But Samantha gets the worst of it. Was this punishment for Kim Cattrall holding out for more cash? Not only is Samantha's sex life nearly void, she now struggles with an eating binge (intervention! she gained at least a half a pound!), buys a horny pooch (why again?), obsesses over a hot neighbor (admirably to get a penis in here somewhere), and goes through a breakup I'm still trying to figure out. I value any movie being greenlit with an ensemble of women over 40, and one that theoretically begins where most romantic comedies end. Nevertheless, the bittersweet soul-searching seems to have gone bitter.

It's all about labels and love, so they say. I label this movie a disappointment and yet I kind of loved it in its complete disregard for substance or anything of value. They sure did wear a lot of nice clothes, didn't they?

A few of my favorite bits:

  • Carrie: "Will I ever laugh again?" (Cue maudlin over-scoring...) More proof of Sarah Jessica Parker's immense talents to be able to deliver that line without actually laughing.
  • Carrie: (at her geographical punniest) "I've got to do something to pull me out of my Mexi-coma." / "I began thinking of her as Saint Louise from St. Louis." / "Back in Lost Angeles..." / "Charlotte Poughkeepsied in her pants."
  • Remember that episode of the show where Charlotte got the runs? I'm glad they saw fit to make that a character trait.
  • Michael Patrick King cast Valerie Cherish's hubby as the asshole at the reception dinner. Imagine if he'd have written in Valerie as Carrie's new assistant! I'm officially on board for that sequel.
  • That title sequence? One of the strangest things I've ever seen tacked onto the beginning of a movie. Completely gaudy and just unnecessary. On second thought, it sets up the movie pretty well.

The large ad plastered in the newspaper uses this quote: "If you are a woman there is nothing in the world that will keep you from this movie," says Josh Tyrangiel of TIME. Certainly if a man can speak for all women, I can be offended for them.


Adam said...

I know I'll get responses saying "lighten up," but watching it in the manner I did, I seemed to be having a lot more fun than the audience I was with.

I now plan a marathon of the show to make this sour streak subside.

Elizabeth said...

Good idea. I'll likewise soon be watching classic episodes to get the taste of that awful movie out of my mouth. Charlotte my favorite character? Painful fairytale parables? Haphazard injections of bitterness and liposuctioned lucidity? I can't help but wonder, what happens when a show based in questions can't come up with any?
Hopefully the parody came off there, I haven't been sleeping too well. Anyway, I do remember what our mid-movie bet was: (spoiler alert, kind of) that "John" would predictably win her back by writing love letters a la the beginning part of the movie. Which, duh, he did.