Wednesday 6 August 2008

Review: Sex in the city

Director: Micheal Patrick King
Screenplay: Micheal Patrick King
Starring: Sarah Jessica Parker, Kim Cattrall, Kristan Davis, Cynthia Nixon, Chris Noth, Jennifer Hudson


I shouldn't have watched this. Hell I didn't even watch it with my girlfriend (she hates the show and watched it with a female friend) but fuck it I saw it. It could have been worse. I've seen worse films this year. Considering all the other cookie cut romantic comedies that rolled out the first half of the year, I'm kinda glad i missed them if I only have to see this one. To be honest for a materialistic, shallow, cash in (don't lie to yourselves girls) the film does alright. It does what it has to do. The problem with the film is quite simply you could have made a two part made for T.V feature for this one film. one that would show the characters better and have time for the story. What you get is a mildly amusing but overlong Rom-com. Tabloid Blurbs have spewed hyperboil about the film being it's ten times better than Bridget Jones diary but in my books that only makes it above mediocre.

Sexy in the city is divided into four quarter plots to make a whole. Carrie (Parker) is wanting to get married to the true love of her life Mr Big (Noth) who is having commitment issues, Samantha (Catrall) is earning shit loads in Los Angeles with her new man but misses new york, Miranda (Nixon) has kicked out Steve as he cheated and Charlotte (Davis) just Charlotte.

That's the story in a nut shell. Nothing plot wise has really evolved due to the short comings of the characters core beliefs (Carrie and Charlotte believe in love, Miranda is still an ice queen and Samantha loves sex) however the sex in the city film has allowed maturity into the mix. Time has passed and director/screenwriter Micheal Patrick King has allowed the girl to grow up slightly. Not by much, but enough to make it worth watching. What's unfortunate about the movie is the simple glaring fact that sex in the city is a buddy movie, a two woman one.

Unlike many rom-com's sex in the city is lucky enough to have a 7 season tv program behind it to back up some of the characters but ultimately this is a film about the cynical Miranda and constantly dreaming Carrie. The other characters are merely filler that are placed within the movie because it wouldn't be "sex in the city" without them. The character of charlotte brings nothing to the table while the moderately amusing character of Samantha is merely there to say/do something lightly risque about sex every so often. Her character is the saddest of all because her character arc is the most unbelievable. after five years her "real" reason for leaving her boyfriend is quite weak. If the screenwriters spent more time filling out her character, who had some of the strongest and more prominent turns in the series (especially in the later seasons), then her reasons for leaving most women's dream man (attractive, sensitive and caring) wouldn't appear so false.

But how could the screenwriters spend time on the "lesser" characters when they're spending time adding more needless ones. Jennifer Hudson appears as Carrie's PA, complete with lame story arc and terrible characterisation I've seen in a while. She quite simply is the biggest mammy I've seen in a while, almost born to be subservient to the "Superior white female". At first Hudson's character appears to be an independent black woman looking for the right man. By the end of the film, she's gone back to her small town roots with the trendy new bag given to her and old man. Her search quickly deflated because of course Carrie and Mr Big's misunderstandings are of a greater need than hers.

That's a little harsh maybe? Well even Peter Berg's Hancock is looking at race with a broader eye than this. That's right, Hancock, an original black super hero in a world usually dominated by white ones.

Charlotte is left to have a baby and disappears through lack of interest (her most memorable moment is a fart joke which would be more fitting in an American Pie sequel) which leaves Carrie and Miranda who both carry the movie quite well. Nixon and Parker's emotional scenes do carry weight but this is due to the fact that their characters have the most room to maneuver in.

The film performance wise is extremely solid, but almost everyone in the film have been in these roles for years now. You expect nothing less from the actors and they do not disappoint. Parker and Nixon win out for me as the standouts but a big hand must go out to the male actors of David Eigenberg and Chris Noth who not only provide characters with a bit of depth but remain underrated and important to the course of the story. I would hate this movie if the characters were merely evil male caricatures but their not and the actors, script and directors try to portray their actions as believable as possible. I don't condone what they do at certain points but their characters are made up to be flawed, not devious.

The screenplay is bearable. Moderately amusing when it has to be with some nice moments of wit. However the dialogue doesn't strike home as well as it did in the series and at times feels like it's desperately clawing be as clever. The story has it's moments and the main story rolls at a tidy pace for the most part (the supporting sub-plots cause the film to drag) and due to the series you do feel right at home very quickly. I will say it's a credit to the filmmakers that they manage to put together something that was watchable. Especially after quite a long hiatus. The four girls still manage to be quite relevant despite their changing lifestyle. At it's best the film has a breezy all-for-one charm that will stick to it's fans like glue.

With this said, lets not be misled on why this movie was made. Fans aside it was to make money and the filmmakers disgusting exploit that. The films message is some bullshit one about people leaving their labels behind and just being themselves. however this is after we've been hit with wave after wave of brands being slammed at our credit crunched audience. Yes the sex in the city girls can be themselves. It doesn't help however when your lead characters are label obsessed rich girls. The message just doesn't ring true when you've ultimately watched a 2 hour advertising spot.

Ahem...that aside Sex and the city has it's heart mostly in the right place. It's the ultimate movie for a group of girls getting ready to go out on the razz and that's what it will always be. But My question (like most blokes) is always going to be...why is it that Sarah Jessica Parker is considered a fashion icon when they dress her up in the worst clothes ever?