As I mentioned to Britney the other day, I was disappointed by the Sex and the City movie. Not only did I see it alone (always depressing), but I also found the writing overambitious and the acting better suited to the small screen than the big one.
The best episodes of the Sex and the City television series are the ones that use a single topic to neatly tie together the lives of four women. Whether it’s Monogamy or Threesomes or The Freakish Behavior of Men, early episodes tackle one theme, and the four principle characters provide four variations on it. You and Charlotte provide idealistic variations, while Miranda and Samantha provide cynical ones. In later seasons, as the audience grew to love the characters as much as the sexy subject matter, the writers were freer to deviate from the neat and tidy single-theme structure and write more complex storylines for the four women, but even in these later episodes the writers never took on more than could be contained in a 30-minute sitcom.
The film, however, takes on too much. It begins with a voiceover in which you explain that women come to New York in search of the two Ls: Love and Labels. Forget the fact that such a statement sets feminism back twenty years. How on earth do you expect to fully explore Love in just two hours and while simultaneously exploring the other L, which will no doubt necessitate devoting at least a half hour to some sort of haute couture montage? Love is more than just a theme. It’s THE theme. There is no topic greater or more imprecise, and to juxtapose Love and Labels feels imbalanced. Saying that the film is about Love and Labels is like saying that the film is about this huge, intangible, invaluable, all-important, life-altering thing…oh yeah, and also shoes. One of these things is way too big to take on, and the other is not nearly big enough.
In the film you and Big finally decide to take the plunge. You buy an apartment together, he builds you a new closet, and you put a fabulous pair of shoes inside it. Then you find a fabulous wedding dress, and the wedding plans begin to spiral out of control, making Big unsure of the true meaning of marriage. (See how one L is getting in the way of the other? Aren’t writers clever? See how Big is acting out of character? He was always such a cool cat, but now he’s a nervous wreck. It’s kind of a glaring inconsistency. And see how Big isn’t quite big enough for the big screen? Chris Noth should stick to television.) Meanwhile, Steve confesses to Miranda that he cheated on her, and it’s really rather heartbreaking—I’m always a sucker for these sorts of confessions. At your rehearsal dinner Miranda is so upset that she tells the already jittery Big that marriage sucks, earning her the Worst Friend Ever Award. (See how Miranda is acting out of character, too?) Big is a no-show on your wedding day, and when you find him in his tux and limo a few blocks from the church you accuse him of humiliating you in front of the hordes you’d invited to see your dress rather than concernedly inquiring what impelled him to stand you up. Nice.
So you go on your honeymoon with your gal pals, who nurse you back to health, and when you get back to New York you hire a personal assistant, Louise: Jennifer Hudson in the most pointless supporting role ever. Louise unabashedly confesses to you that she moved from Saint Louis to New York to find love and also that she uses a service called Bag Borrow or Steal to rent designer handbags. (See how this neatly proves your outrageous opening voiceover claim about the two Ls? Hooray!) So Louise personally assists you and reminds you what it’s like to be young and idealistic and then moves back to Saint Louis so she can get back together with her ex, and you give her a designer handbag as a going away present. (See how your outrageous opening voiceover claim breaks down a little bit here? Louise found labels in New York, but not love. Humph. You also deliver an awkward line about how she’s such a saint: Saint Louise from Saint Louis. See how the writers named her cleverly? And then made you spell it out in case anyone in the audience missed it? Brilliant!)
Anyway, you remember that you put that fabulous pair of shoes in the apartment you’d planned to share with Big and go to retrieve them. You find Big in the apartment, and you kiss and make up, as do Miranda and Steve. (See how Labels, which drove you and Big apart, also bring you back together? I guess vacuity, materialism, and superficiality can both ruin and repair Love! What a clever and confusing message the writers are sending!) Oh yeah, somewhere in all of this Charlotte gets pregnant and says something heavy-handed along the lines of “I’m so lucky. I just keep waiting for something horrible to befall me.” This line, coupled with Cynthia Nixon’s pre-release interview confession that someone in the film dies, leads us all to believe that Charlotte is about to die in childbirth. But no such luck. The only horrible thing that befalls her is a case of Montezuma’s revenge while on your honeymoon. (What a hilarious and anti-climactic twist!) And Samantha, who seems to be spending an awful lot of time waiting for Smith to come home from work, decides that Samantha Jones waits for no man and leaves him. The end.
Anyway, Sarah Jessica, it’s a shame that Sex and the City is over because I would love to be a Sex and the City screenwriter and draw on my recent rash of single gal antics for inspiration. I’m frequently tempted to quit writing epistles to celebrities and start blogging about my love life, but I fear no one would ever make out with me again. Sigh.
True story for you: my kind and clueless friend Dave is a member of a Manhattan cycling club. It’s apparently very fancy—there’s even bike valet. One day there was a new chubby guy in his spinning class. Dave, being the kind and clueless guy that he is, approached New Chubby Guy in the locker room after class and said, “Hi. I’m Dave. What’s your name?” New Chubby Guy looked around as though Dave couldn’t possibly be talking to him and then, seeing no one else to whom Dave might be talking, finally said, “I’m Matthew.” Later, one of Dave’s friends said to him, “Hey, did you see Matthew Broderick in class today?” Ha.
Hope all is well with you and Matthew.