Susan's Blog

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Drek and the Dim-Witty

I’ve come to bury the film Sex and the City, not to praise it.
–Shakespeare (and me)

Ned and I had an argument when we were first dating, about what beautiful meant. In true Ned fashion, he told me that “there is no universal, absolute consensus on Beauty. There is only each person’s opinion.” Not at all satisfied, in typical Sue fashion, I had to dissect this. “But why? What is beautiful?” and all manner of questioning that was guaranteed to completely shut him down. He told me, “There is beautiful, and there is Magazine Pretty. You are not Magazine Pretty.” He said some other nice things but that particular phrase jumped out at me. Stung me, idiot that I was.

I found myself thinking about this question as I watched the movie Sex and the City last night. It was not about sex, or the city, or about anything actually beautiful or even fun. Carrie’s voice over warns you right from the start “Young women come to New York in search of the two L’s: Labels and Love.” Huh? Silly me, I thought that people come to New York in search of an amazing job or a more interesting life. So I should have realized it would not be about the city or even about good sex. It could have been called, Magazine Sex, Fashion and a Disneyworld Version of New York City, but that is not nearly as catchy.

I totally hated the movie. We had both loved the show. Ned wasn’t expecting that much from the film, so he felt it was pretty much like the show: enjoyable enough. I thought it would be like the show, a glimpse of a fantasy life of four friends working and playing in New York, and all the issues that come up in both.

But working did not enter the picture much at all, and neither did playing. Where in the TV show all four women’s jobs had been a fairly central element, in the movie, playing was remarkably absent, and work was non-existent. Even when the four go off to Mexico, it is a gloomy time interspersed with a little light-hearted diarrhea. Without any of those fixtures, you are left with some pretty vapid stuff, even for Sex and the City: a lot of branding, and a lot of “Romance”/blithering dialog about people cheating or not satisfying, rather than about love, friendship, careers, family problems, etc.

The movie wasn’t even actually about sex. The characters whom you mostly see having sex are abundantly-implanted-and-buff strangers in the apartment next door. Well, there is one very raw meat, up close glimpse of Miranda and Steve having sex, but that felt too much like stumbling upon your friends doing it. The television show managed to have a lot of provocative, interesting naked body sex scenes for all four of the women, that were part of the plot, but the movie shied away from that, except for the Miranda and Steve scene which went from zero to 80 in seconds. No sexual tension build-up, not even much conversational build-up. (Not even wax build-up: everyone’s apartments were just beyond perfect. Crazy perfect, immaculate, and air-brushed.)

Yes, the show was shallow, too, but at least in the show there were interesting episodes about issues such as how to deal with a mother-in-law who might have Alzheimer’s (Miranda); how to deal with a difficult boss even though the Vogue job is great (Carrie); breast cancer and sexuality (Samantha); an impotent husband who won’t admit to a problem (Charlotte). The movie’s main “issues” were more like Cosmo headlines: “I’m bored living in L.A.! (Samantha)”; or “I’m pregnant and incubating!” (Charlotte); or “Steve cheated on me!” (Miranda); or “Big built me the closet of my dreams but came late to our wedding, so I guess he doesn’t love me!”(Carrie)

And yes, the show was no PBS Masterpiece Theatre. The show was all butter-cream-frosted over with labels and cool clubbing, but at least there was a funky and creative vibe to it. So in this way, the movie was not even about The City. Where the show sprinkled in a little Tribeca and Village and four-flight walk-ups, the movie was all 5th Avenue and midtown. The movie was only whip cream, not even any cake.

It was a Dynasty version of Sex and the City, without any of the plot twists that Dynasty was famous for. Even the clothes were a disappointment. In the show, Carrie’s clothes were pieced-together blue-jeans-and-bra-straps-type of creative while Miranda wore lawyerly suits; in the movie, it was all 5-inch heels and the highest couture dresses for all of them all the time. (And what was with all the Charlotte and Samantha monochromatic dresses?)

A whole lot of garish, screaming nothing. As Ned put it, “There were way too many scenes of them screaming over Samantha showing up.” They would have been better off calling it Much Doo-Doo About Nothing.

2 comments

Well, you pretty much nailed all the reasons why I don’t want to see the movie! I never watched the show…I used to live in NYC and religiously read the column in the Observer. NOTHING can top that in my opinion.

Think I’ll go see Kung Fu Panda instead; I’ve actually been hearing some really great things from people who saw it!

— added by Niksmom on Sunday, June 8, 2008 at 8:50 am

Wow, excellent review. I’m sure I’ll see the film at some point. Good ripping, and you backed it up!

Have fun at the Cape.

— added by Someone Said on Sunday, June 8, 2008 at 12:22 pm

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