Let’s talk about ‘Sex’

Anticipating the anguished emails of readers who may take umbrage to any critiquing whatsoever of their beloved characters from “Sex and the City,” I opted for a different (read: cowardly) approach to this review which enlists the talents of my editor, one Jen Ellingsworth – perhaps the target audience for this show.

My theory is that if the producers wanted to make a film that catered specifically to the audience, it would have been released in the comfortable confines of its HBO home. Since it was debuting at the multiplex, however, it should be fair game for a standard critique on how it stands up as a film. (For example, if Pixar films are for children, shouldn’t they be open to adult reviewers?)

Since I was a virgin to “Sex” – I have never watched an episode, nor was I overcome with any desire in which to do so – I felt the thoughts and comments of one who had spent many an hour with our fab foursome would be of relative importance.

So below are transcripts of our post-screening conversation over a few rounds of martinis and Budweiser.

For those wanting to hear a podcast of our entire conversation, here you go(or just read the transcript after the jump.

RR: You being, would you say, a quasi-fan?

JE: I would say a pretty rabid fan.

RR: That’s fantastic because that puts us at two polar opposites.

RR: You went to see this with your mother. Is she also a fan?

JE: No, I think she’s seen snippets of episode, but never a whole ‘Sex and the City” episode. She certainly knows the characters from the media and pop culture, but she loved it. I think it was just a piece of confection…it has no nutritional value whatsoever. But it was just a lot of fun.

RR: My thought process for this is, for guys, movies like “Transformers” have their explosions and guns, and this is kind of the estrogen-filled antithesis of a male-oriented blockbuster, in that the explosions come in the form of Louis Vuitton bags and the guns come in the form of 3-inch stiletto heels.

JE: The Manolo Blahniks.

RR: See, I don’t even know how to pronounce it, that’s why I was hoping that you would say it.

JE: You are going to have to Google that name, trust me.

RR: I am so fashionably challenged, it’s sad. But that’s a good place to start with this movie because it is so fashion conscious. And because my fashion can literally be found in the back of magazines where you can buy T-shirts with sayings from the 80s on them. This (film) looked like I was at Le Cirque du Soleil. It looked like some of the best fashion designers in the country got together and vomited up the worst aberrations of fabric that they could onto these women.

JE: I agree. I mean the bird in the hair (worn by Carrie, played by Sarah Jessica Parker) during her wedding scene. That, to me, was just deplorable. But some of the things were very, very cute, Rob. Maybe not for those of us in the Cape Region.

RR: I’m going to guess that it really doesn’t have to do with the regions of the country, but rather regions of the body of whether or not you are going to enjoy this film. Because my feeling is that a lot of guys were drug through with misty eyes as they passed by the “Iron Man” and “Indiana Jones” marquee and had to be seated in there with Carrie Bradshaw and her friends… (Let’s ) go over the premise of this film.

JE: It was basically revisiting the girls – Charlotte (played by Kristin Davis), Miranda (played by Cynthia Nixon), Carrie and Samantha (played by Kim Cattrell) – four years after the series ended to see where they are in their lives. Basically, the whole plot revolves around Carrie and Big (played by Chris Noth), her on-again, off-again love interest, who…get engaged and…

RR: They fall in and out of love (repeatedly).

JE: Exactly. They’ve had a tumultuous ten-year relationship and it’s seeing what the next step is for that. And babies and jobs and things like that ensue for the foursome.

RR: For you, as a fan, was (the film) a big payoff? Did the series end at such a point where this tied everything up in a nice, tidy bow, or was it something that felt like a few more episodes?

JE: I feel like it was a few more episodes, quite honestly…

RR: It was a LOT of more episodes, let’s say. Two and a half freakin’ hours? Come on! It was like “Dances with Martinis.”

JE: I know, what’s next, the two-and-a-half-hour movie of “Two and a Half Men?” To me, it felt like a very long episode. Or, if I had rented the box set of a season of episodes.

RR: It’s didn’t feel cinematic to me. New York has looked better after it was leveled by aliens in “Independence Day.” For having “City” in the title, it didn’t feel like it really showcased the beauty of New York. And it felt very confined and cramped. There wasn’t much flair from a cinematic perspective.

JE: I can see that… (but) they were trying to shoehorn so much in those two and a half hours with how many years of “Sex and the City” on television, ten?

RR: The term “excess” comes to mind in every sense of the word. Not just the materialism of the leads (who were) very materialistic…they solved crises by retail therapy and alcoholism.

JE: It’s true. That is “Sex and the City.” If you are a tried and true fan, you will really enjoy this movie because they’ve done right by the TV series. But does it belong on the big screen? I don’t know. For me, it was good because I did watch the series and I still do.

RR: As far as the product placement, was the series as filled with name dropping as there was in this, because honestly, it seemed like there was something being hawked every few minutes of this film, whether it was a designer name or a mineral water or the name of a restaurant, everybody had something to pimp out in this film.

JE: The movie was shameless in that respect. The series, not so much.

RR: As far as the comedy was concerned in this, at times, I honestly felt like maybe they had the Farrelly Brothers (“Something About Mary”) stop in and direct some of it. In specific, there was an instance where one of the character, Miranda, the lawyer, is rather negligent in, let’s say, “landscaping” of the body. It seemed like a very broad style of comedy where it wanted to play with the sexy shenanigans of the Farrellys…The women of the film, and this is from someone who has not spent any time, but in that time that I spent in a darkened theater with them, they seemed so shallow and narcissistic and materialistic that I didn’t feel that I could find anything worth merit for these girls, and I’m hoping that the series preceding this helped to flesh them out, but for a newcomer, the movie certainly did not.

JE: I can totally understand what you are saying. My whole point is, as a viewer, even for the first time, which my mom basically was, you have to look at it like that cell phone that Carrie had in the movie…it’s pretty and shiny, but the prettiness and shininess really doesn’t mean anything. And it’s not meant to mean anything. It’s just like escapism. It was just eye candy – the clothes, the fashion, even the music. And there are strung throughout the movie little nuggets that only people who have watched it from the beginning would get, but I think a lot of that movie could have ended up on the editing room floor.

RR: Believe me, I did my research on this. “Entertainment Weekly” put out an entire volume on “Sex and the City” and I read every damn episode guide.

JE: Good job!

RR: I know. I wanted to make sure that I knew my stuff going in here because I knew the wrath that I would face if I were a tad too harsh on this. It seemed to me that from a male perspective, there was a real anti-romantic vide in this movie. For as “Cinderella-story” as it wanted to be, there seemed to be this entire undercurrent of how romance really is kind of a fallacy.

JE: They do eventually get to the point at the end, where they wrap it up nicely, I think. But they could have wrapped it up a little sooner.

RR: There’s a new character that was introduced and it was Carrie’s assistant. Jennifer Hudson of “Dreamgirls” plays her.

JE: Beautiful girl.

RR: And Oscar-nominated, I should add.

JE: I was shocked to see her in it. I had no idea.

RR: Personally, I was disappointed because here you have an Oscar-nominated actress, who, I felt, was put in (the film) to say, “Hey look, let’s try to pick up the black market.”

JE: I felt the same thing. At one point Carrie gives her a rather extravagant gift, and it was so schmaltzy…. (and I’m) saying that from the fan standpoint. That was just a little too much.

RR: In that scene, Carrie says “You gave me my life back,” and her assistant says “You gave me a Louis Vuitton”… and that to me summed up the mentality of these four women. Their life can essentially be compacted into a handbag and toted away as long as the Chihuahua can fit in it.

JE: Things. A lot of “thing” envy. Excess.

RR: From a straight male perspective, I can probably say that I would not walk but run to the other side of the street if any of these women were approaching from the opposite direction. At least based upon this film, I could not see myself cozying up to any of these four characters, because there was just zip appeal to me and they felt more narcissistic than most leads that I should feel compassion for, in a feature film, at least.

JE: I think if you spent more time, which you probably will not based on what I’m hearing now… you know, rent the box set, get some Cosmos going… Seriously, I have already talked to my friends who are fans and said “As a fan, you should check this out.” Now, someone who is not that familiar with the series? Put it at the bottom of the Netflix queue.

RR: I would go a step further and say, make plans to have kidney stone removal or something… Jen, any closing comments on “Sex and the City?”

JE: It is, I cannot say enough, confection. No nutritional value, just sex…and the city.

RR: I thought the sex was rather unsexy, but this is why I ambushed you to accompany me on this journey, so that I would at least be buoyed by your positive comments and not suffer the wrath as I would expect. So, thank you very much.

JE: Thank you, Rob.

RR: I will have this on your desk promptly, boss!

~ by usesoapfilm on June 3, 2008.

One Response to “Let’s talk about ‘Sex’”

  1. As much as I hate a lot of the things that this movie represents (the materialism, the selfish, anti-feminist undercurrent), the thing that bothered me most was the Jennifer Hudson bit. While I’m not sure if your “black market” theory is correct, they definitely shoehorned Hudson for a bit of something new, and her whole part could have been cut to shave this film down to a reasonable length.

    Hudson, by the way, is an Oscar winner, not just a nominee. Judging from this film, and her overrated Dreamgirls performance, I’d like to suggest that she’s the worst Oscar winner EVER. Any takers?


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