Well, kids, I finally got away from my endless duties at Historiann.com HQ to see Sex and the City: The Movie. And, what can I say? It was a two-hour-plus excursion to Candy Land for me. It was also a damn fine character-driven comedy/drama–and how many of those are there out there that don’t star extremely unphotogenic men? The four main broads in this movie looked like movie stars–and how many movies are there out there that feature adult roles for women in their 40s? Be warned, if you haven’t seen it yet: it’s a full three-hanky weeper, much to my surprise. I’m not sure what the movie would offer someone who’s not already a fan of the show, with an extensive knowledge of each character’s back story, but that viewer is not Historiann. Anyway, on with the review–spoiler alert! Don’t click “continue reading” if you don’t want to know!
Plot: The movie gives a pretty realistic look at where the women are four years after we last saw them. The major plot turn is that John Preston (a.k.a. “Mr. Big,” played by Chris Noth) agrees to marry Carrie (Sarah Jessica Parker), then jilts her (in her Vivienne Westwood wedding gown) at the altar. Yes–Mr. Big is just as emotionally unavailable, immature, and manipulative as ever, and in this, he does not disappoint. Meanwhile, Miranda’s (Cynthia Nixon) marriage to Steve (David Eigenberg) is foundering on the shoals of sexlessness, then implodes when Steve confesses to having had a brief extramarital affair. Charlotte (Kirsten Davis) continues to bask drama-free in the love and adoration of Harry (Evan Handler) and their adorable adopted daugher, Lily. And Samantha (Kim Cattrall) finds herself bored and restless in L.A. as the publicist for boyfriend Smith Jared (Jason Lewis, hunkier than ever). Will Carrie ever find true love, with or without Mr. Big? Will Miranda and Steve get back together? Can Charlotte really be that happy? And, how will Samantha resolve her restlessness without cheating on Smith with her very hunky, very available, and very naked exhibitionist next-door-neighbor?
The plot gave fans of the show what they were looking for–four more extended plots delving into the specifics of each of their lives and loves. I liked the way the movie dealt with issues that people in their 40s must face (although I wouldn’t know myself, being still very much an under-40 myself!): the end of the fairytale romance, the onset of married middle-age, with its children, chores, ageing parents, and even slight weight gain.
Fashion: There was indeed a lot of it, and thankfully, most of it was much better than that intro shot they used for the publicity shots (see photo at right). Carrie wore a lot of cute dresses, but she also wore a lot of schmattas of the Scarlet-O’Hara’s-drapes variety (like the photo of her above the jump). Charlotte was super-cute in preppy prints and trapeze dresses. Samantha looked great–although her style is too severe and too mature for me. Miranda looked really gorgeous in the movie, and because Nixon is the best actress of the lot, she kind of ran away with the movie. Historiann was partial to some of her looks (although not the oversized print dresses), as well as Charlotte’s wardrobe. I don’t believe the fashionistas who say that the dress is so over–dresses were all over this movie. Dresses were the default costume for each main character. (And fortunately, Annie Hall made only a brief appearance in the intro scene you see above!)
New York: The city part of Sex and the City finally features brown, black, and Asian people. It was refreshing to see SATC finally acknowledge some of the diversity that is New York. The TV show was embarrassingly retro when it came to ethnicity–it was as white as other famous so-called “New York” shows like Friends and Seinfeld. Jennifer Hudson does a star turn as Louise, the personal assistant that Carrie hires after she’s left at the altar by Big. But, I agree with Diary of an Anxious Black Woman’s take on the Hudson character, who comes to Carrie’s rescue:
Of course, in the case of Carrie, this is where elite white privilege comes in. She’s such a mess after this public humiliation, she’s got the resources to hire a personal assistant to organize her life. Enter Mammy 2.0 (yes, that’s the gig Jennifer Hudson gets post-Oscar, and her name is Louise!!! As in Louise Beavers? Are they for real?). And Miss Louise is such a trooper and the perfect mammylike comforter – she can get Carrie the online hookup (like renting the best Louis Vuitton handbags), update her website, her email files, and even all her “love letters” from Mr. Big, which she will not read. And of course a nice sympathetic ear and big shoulders to cry on. . . . I just love how the twentysomething black girl is still the one with the all-knowing wisdom and the strength and courage and know-how to help resuscitate the fortysomething white woman back to her self.
It was great to have a central character played by an African American actor, and it was sweet to see Carrie mentor the younger woman, whom she clearly saw as a younger version of herself. However, having her essentially serve as Carrie’s “mammy” was an unfortunately stereotypical trope for an African American actor. But, Hudson (as always) is excellent, and is surely destined for better roles.
Gay friends: Why couldn’t Stanford (Willie Garson, pictured at left) or Anthony (Mario Cantone) find love, too? (And I don’t mean with each other–as though those are the only two homosexuals in Manhattan.) Why does this show, which has featured several gay male characters, refuse to let them have any romantic plots or sex life? I get it that the show is focused on the four straight, white women characters, but Hudson’s Louise gets to have a boyfriend and a happy romantic ending–why not the gay boys?
Conclusion: Mr. Big is a Big Disappointment. In the end, Carrie and Big get back together (after several months), but I thought the “happily ever after” ending was forced. (Reader, she married him!) The endings to the other 3 women’s stories were better and more realistic: Miranda and Steve got back together, Charlotte actually got pregnant the old-fashioned way and had another little girl, and Samantha left Smith and went back to New York on her own. All three of them were true to themselves, unlike Carrie. I thought that after Big humiliated her in that spectacular way on their putative wedding day, Carrie should have given him the final heave-ho and struck out on her own like Samantha. Be assured that a guy like that will disappoint you the next time you really need him: like when Carrie wants to adopt a baby, or when she must deal with ageing and dying parents, or when for whatever reason, their relationship stops being about Mr. Big and he has to deal with Carrie’s career, needs, and desires. Big’s a schmuck, and Carrie’s a schmuck too for buying that load of crap. Again! I guess she’ll never learn.