Monday, June 2, 2008

This is SO Our Lives!

Sex and the City

Release: 05.30.2008
Rated R

2 hours, 28 minutes

For Fans:
Matinee ($$$)
For Moviegoers: Second-Run Seats ($$)

What started out as a Saturday movie date between my wife and I doubled when two of our female friends decided to join us for
Sex and the City. As I stood in line next to several quartets of women dressed in their most stylish summer wear, the irony of my situation did not escape me. After staking our claim on a set of seats, I headed back out for my routine bladder flush in preparation for the two-plus hours ahead. As I opened the door, the very definition of the movie's characters - a Northerner - was entering. Her face widened into a smile as she said to me in her best Samantha-esque tone, "A man. I love it!" Assuming this wasn't my natural musk affecting her and more the idea of a man coughing up the cash for a chick flick, I couldn't help but wonder: In the world we live in today is it wrong for a man to enjoy a film aimed directly at women? Would I be labeled a prick for not tearing up at the tender moments? Should I be offended ladies assume I won't relate because I have a prick?

Putting those questions aside for a moment, let's talk plot. Sex picks up four years after the HBO series ended its six-year-long run. Carrie and Big decide to move in together, which leads to the big M. One really fancy dress, a couple of opinionated loudmouths, two hundred guests and a heap of anxiety later, a plot is born.

For any virgin audience members or those needing a S&C refresher, writer-director Michael Patrick King opens with a brief, scrapbook-style clip show from the lives of Carrie (Sarah Jessica Parker, Honeymoon in Vegas), Miranda (Cynthia Nixon, Igby Goes Down), Samantha (Kim Cattrall, Mannequin) and Charlotte (Kristin Davis, Melrose Place). These ladies (listed in order according to screen-time and story significance) are reunited with all the regular supporting cast from Mr. Big (Chris Noth, The Glass House) to Stanford (Willie Garson, Fever Pitch) to Magda (Lynn Cohen, Munich).

Those who watched the series know a follow-up was unnecessary given its tidy conclusion. But hey, when the cow's still producing, don't put her out to pasture. In this case, the cow is King who develops some engaging new material. However, his bloated udders spew far too much story to be completely interesting. Sex and the City has far too many segues and plodding conversations that could have easily been cut for improved story-telling. Were three ad-hoc fashion montages really necessary?! Maybe if they'd been trimmed there would have been more time for equal story development among the four leads.

After six years in these roles would a long hiatus make the actors' reprisals clunky? As someone who has seen over half the episodes, the ladies and company are still true to form. The singular exception is the only new character, Carrie's assistant Louise (Jennifer Hudson, Dreamgirls). This role was not the best follow-up to Hudson's Oscar-winning performance. Further evidence of King's indulgent style, the role was conceived and implemented as a plot device, which gave her little to work with... so I can understand why she didn't really try.

Dirty Undies
For a film titled Sex and the City, the main ingredients have become the garnish. While the stories offer up adult situations, conversations and lots of use of the word sex, only half of the ladies offer up sexually graphic content. Me being a fan of Charlotte and Samantha, I wasn't entirely disappointed.

The Money Shot
Does my less-than-stellar experience prove the age-old adage that men weren't meant to understand women? Will men always view women from our perch atop Mars or can we possibly imagine life on Venus? Maybe we are asking all the wrong questions to all the wrong people. Maybe it's time we pull back that curtain and discover the great and powerful Oz is nothing more than a little man drunk on his own power.

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