sex and what city?

In ALL, MOVIES by Stephanie Klein18 Comments

My off the cuff, unedited take on this whole matter of deux:

Overall, I was pleasantly surprised by the first two acts of Sex & The City 2 (despite the repeated use of the term "interfriendtion"), also my expectations were low, especially after hearing that I might want to wear a blindfold, it’s that bad. People with low expectations see the world in color. The problem with this particular film is that it showed us Oz, only to disappoint us with a final act that felt undeveloped, unbelievable, unrealistic, and uncolored. It was almost as if the writers (if it wasn’t penned only by Michael Patrick King) spent all their time tweaking the beginning and middle and were pressured for an ending, stat. So they slapped one on and hoped it would stick. It didn’t. But, here’s the real question, does it matter?

I can answer for myself, and say no. I mean, yes, it sucks that the final act wasn’t a class act, but on the whole, the film did its job: it made me feel. It pressed on the emotional pressure points (though mostly in the moments that dealt with motherhood), which is all I need to feel satisfied.

kim cattrall kristen davis sarah jessica parker cynthia nixon on set of satc 2 862x1024

Comedies are supposed to make you laugh. I get that. The Sex & The City television series was a comedy about love, sex, and friendship—a chick flick of a show, really. So when its chick flick of a movie counterpart came along, I didn’t for a second expect it to be so funny I’d fart. Because no one goes to a chick flick to laugh, not really. We don’t see them for their funny; we see them for their feel.

sex cupcakes

That’s what I wanted from the movie. I wanted to feel, to ache, to believe the struggle- to cry – to think about my own life. I watch chick flicks for their insight, for the way they reveal a moment we’ve already lived, even though our life is nothing like the ones being lived on screen. At the end of the day, we connect to emotion, not gags and one-liners (Though Samantha’s “Have we met?” in response to Charlotte’s “How will you swallow all those?” was a beautiful thing—in the trailer anyway).

I saw the film trailer, with Carrie in Abu Dhabi bumping into Aiden, and I wondered if the movie would explore the notion of fate, of meant to be, maybe even a “what if” glimpse into an alternate future. Because who doesn’t question “What if I’d ended up with him, instead of where I’ve ended up today?” It would be a bit Sliding Doors meets Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol, but we’re game for anything. The ladies have been missed. We’re ready for Sex. For The City. But as it turns out, really, there’d be neither. And what we would get of it, would be gratuitous.

SATC2

The whole Abu Dhabi escape was just that, a departure from what we loved so much about the series: the friendships, the struggle, and the love affair, the rapture, with Manhattan. But look what the writers were up against. They basically were charged with creating a satisfying story of hell and back while keeping everything status quo at the close of the film.

It’s not easy to write a story about a happily married couple, to rip them apart without actually ripping them apart, then piece them back together. Because there’s somehow less at stake. There’s less ache, less restlessness, less wanting. And those are the emotions to which we connected most in the TV series. Knowing what you want, desperately trying to find it, to believe in it, to get it and to keep it. This was a story about wanting what you have when it’s already yours. And it’s hard to show arc, growth, to really take us on a journey with those constraints.

If I were tasked with writing a "Now That The Charmings Are Married" feature while preserving the marriage in the end, it would likely become "The Story of Us," with the raw, sometimes sad, reality of making things work. Heavy on compromise, on power struggles, on feeling understood. The second guessing—the should I‘s?— but how do you deliver a satisfying ending? With our gal finally embracing her choice, believing she’ll now be happy, ever after, without wondering, even for a moment, if she’s made the right choice?

sarah jessica parker 06

I suppose it’s about taking us through the nightmare, really into the thick of it, the intimacy of a fight, and seeing us through to the other side, stronger. That’s all we want. To be dragged through the mud in the hopes that we’ll have glowing skin (with minimized pores) in the end. Did I see that in this film? I saw glimpses of it, but I didn’t feel it. Not the way I felt the reality and ache of motherhood—that’s what I felt most. Not exactly what you’d expect from a film with “Sex” in the title.

BRING ON THE SPOILERS: MY SCENE + STORY REACTIONS…

miranda 80s

Loved the quick flashes of how the girls first met, the hair, the clothes, the ’80s. This is where they get to take their funny out for a spin, without a line of dialogue. But then we’re dragged into a wedding that seems irrelevant.

kim cattral sex and the city 2 80s style

The Liza Minnelli thing: I couldn’t help but panic. I worried she’d drop dead—not the way you want to begin a marriage. Speaking of which, why bring up the whole “He’s allowed to cheat” thing? Anthony telling everyone he can cheat on Stanford if he wants to? It’s like putting a gun on a mantel. You’ve got to use it if you show it. Here, they presented us with this issue, and we see that Charlotte cares about it, Carrie, too. The issue has been given real estate on the page, but it goes nowhere. We never hear of it again. Because this isn’t what the movie is about. Some might argue that it introduced the idea of cheating, but was it really needed? Or funny?

I also could have done without having to listen to Carrie and Big John play-argue about the emphasis of gay wedding. Bore to the ing. Aside from this, though, I was on board.

charlotte tennis

The Charlotte, Harry, and The Nanny Storyline: The writers took the easy way out. Here was an opportunity to really explore insecurity, both as a mother and wife. A bra-less nanny steps in, adored by the children, desired by men. And how’s it dealt with? Charlotte acting psycho, to which I can actually relate on some level, but she never really confronts her insecurities. Again, I was along for the ride, ready for the insight and growth. And it was well-done until it was tied up in the end by revealing that the nanny is a lesbian. It’s just too easy. It gave the writers an out, without having to deal with the real issue: that no matter how beautiful you are, there will always be the threat of NEW, of different. And you can spend your time worrying about it, or you can say, I’m damn fine the way I am, and I trust the shit out of that man. If he’s gonna cheat, he’s gonna cheat, and there’s nothing I can do to control any of it, just myself, and I refuse to act like an insecure school girl when I have my own girls to raise.

sam suit

Samantha Ain’t The Only Thing Getting’ Old: Samantha eating yams: funny. Samantha having her yams fondled: been there, admired those. Yes, it’s called Sex & The City, so there’s the expectation of some actual sex. Still, there was an opportunity here to explore something new, to bring a fresh perspective, to see some type of growth, change, or revelation for Samantha, now 52. Have her resist, but come to embrace modesty, explore want without acting on it, have her experience the forbidden—hell, make it about Tantra if you must (yeah, yeah, so what if it’s Buddhist not Muslim). At least let her explore the phenomenon of injaculation. Give us something. And please, in the end, throw us some sort of epiphany that will make all the silly frivolity worth it.

desert nightmare

Why must Miranda always look like an awkward fashion "don’t?" Aside from the opening moments, where she’s in an asymmetrical dress, and in the paisley number, she looks like she got knocked up by the age of Aquarius. She’s a technicolor acid trip of awkward. Not fair. Equally as unfair: the way her story line was wrapped up. She’s feels like she’s not taken seriously at her current firm, given the disrespected hand in the air, and it’s all wrapped up neatly, as part of a closing montage, with the camera pulling away, seeing Miranda at a smaller, simpler, firm, at a rooftop lunch. That fast. Again, it’s like the writers had time to spend on the first and second acts, but were forced to throw that third act together in a hurry, which brings us to the biggest offender: the Big ending.

Yes, the scene in Abu Dhabi with the Arab women wearing Dior dresses beneath their burkas was beyond stupid and should have remained on the cutting room floor. And the bit where Carrie points out Charlotte’s unfortunate case of camel toe, after falling off a camel (badumbum) would have been sad in and of itself, had Carrie not had her own horrendous case of camel only a scene prior. But…

The biggest offense was the Big finale: By phone, Carrie confesses to Big that she kissed Aiden. A selfish move on her part–even telling him, knowing it was a mistake. And she returns to their apartment, no Big. Until he turns up and punishes her, but giving her a black diamond ring, one she needs to wear on her finger. Pahleeze.

Oh, we get it. Begin with Carrie wanting her own last name on the wedding program, have her resist ever wearing a big ring. Have her dig in her designer heels about what she wants to do, make it all I, not us. Then give us an ending where we see her embrace compromise, make her comfortable with we and ours. Make it clear enough to the audience that we can see it, as clear as the rock on her manicured finger. This is in no way believable or satisfying. It’s an easy out, again. 

charlotte confession

All that said… the insecurity about motherhood—experienced by Miranda juggling work and life, and by Charlotte having to raise these children she’s always wanted, coming to terms with the fact that you’re going to fail sometimes, you’ll disappoint, you’ll lock yourself in a closet and pretend you’re not crying, you won’t get it right, but in the end, it will be alright—was poignant. And it was nice to see the intimacy between friends, the confessions of "bad mothers," because it’s sharing those moments in our lives, admitting our weaknesses, that strengthen our friendships. And at the end of the day, that’s exactly what you want to see in a film, essentially about friends who’ve become, and will always be, family.

Comments

  1. Loved your review – felt many of the same emotions. I would have (and did) go to the film regardless of the horrible reviews because, as I told my dad, it’s like when your old friends come back to town. Who cares if they’re having a bad-hair day, a divorce, a drama or just want to whine – you miss them and want to make sure they’re alive.

    I wanted to be enraptured…I wasn’t. I wanted to reaffirm my commitment to the characters…I struggled with it. I wanted to love each of them equally for all of their foibles…I couldn’t fully do it.

    Why did they do that to Samantha? That was a truly vile trajectory for her character.

    Ah well – it was still worth it, and in the depths of winter I may just watch it again.

  2. I agree that the only thing that really annoyed me in the movie was the “jewelry solves all your problems” conclusion with Carrie and Big.
    In general, I thought the movie had hints of interesting storylines for each of the character, but ironically in a two and half hour film, there didn’t seem to be time to actually explore them. Miranda’s unhappiness with her job was covered in what, 3 short scenes? Too much of the movie, to me, seemed like a mix of a Scooby Doo plot (uh, escaping a market in burqas? what?) and just a gratuitous ad for wildly expensive things. When did they all become mega millionaires? It reminded me of a plotline on the show when Carrie asked to borrow money from Charlotte, and she refused. That was when the show was still about real people, IMHO.

  3. i agree with you on miley cyrus, and the 4 women from sex in the city. Its because of all this trash that has allowed women to become materialistic whores.

  4. I was looking forward to this post! I did enjoy this movie more than the first, it felt more fun to me but I did feel that there was alot not explored. I agree about the ending. So she almost cheats and gets rewarded with a ring? Then again, Big left her at the alter and then she marries him anyway in the first film. I would have loved to have seen a more of a struggle with Carrie about “Did I choose the right one? than a moment of wondering about Aiden. They make the effort to put in that storyline and it feels so undone to me.

    I agree with Kat. . . when did they all become mega millionaires?! That is something I didn’t like. Especially with Carrie who during the series was always a struggling writer, and you felt like she was real. Now its all about the Benz and crazy expensive furniture and clothes. It made it hard for me to relate to her.

    I thought the gay wedding thing was unnecessary, how the hell did those two get together anyway? But I have to say I did like the Liza performance.

    As for Miranda, I have always liked her and this time around I really enjoyed seeing her loosen up and be more fun. I don’t have children but the scene with Charlotte and Miranda spilling their guts on motherhood over drinks was one of my favorites of the movie. There should have been more like that.

    With regard to Samantha and the menopause storyline. . . as a young breast cancer survivor who thought that they did a great job during the series with the cancer storyline felt disappointed that they just ignored the fact that she is a survivor. I understand that it is supposed to be a fun chick lit type of movie but I felt as though it was careless of them to have a breast cancer survivor slapping on estrogen and tons of hormone creams to deal with menopause symptoms when in reality it is something that is a definite no no because of the cancer history. In the last movie there is one mention that she had cancer and in this one it is like she never had it. As a survivor I would have liked to have seen the writers explore the realities of life after cancer and the struggle that goes on for many of us.

    All in all I did enjoy seeing the girls together again, could have done without the caper, and would have liked seeing them spend more time in NYC. . . the fifth character in the movie!

    Thanks Stephanie for your review!

  5. I’m in India and the movie is only coming to theaters the weekend of the 11th and while waiting for it I feel as if I’ve read EVERY SINGLE review out there. Loved yours. The movie will be entertaining – I’m sure.

  6. That scene between Miranda and Charlotte, and the scene with Charlotte locked in her pantry made the movie for me. And I thought it was interesting that it was the motherhood bit that I related to the most.

  7. Nicky and Rickard, Rickard and Nicky. First Nicky, then Rickard.

    Black Diamonds

    Shoes

    Clothes..

    I loved all of it. The materialistic, out of this stratosphere lifestyle, I’ll take that and SUPERSIZE IT PLEASE!

  8. Recently watched Post Grad. It’s one of the better romantic comedies I’ve seen in a while.

  9. I agree w/Cathy B. re Samantha and all the hormones. I spent half the movie trying to figure out if I was misremembering that she had breast cancer because it would be beyond insane to portray a bc survivor slapping hormones on every pore & orifice! Also agree w/Kat re Scooby Doo type plotline & way too much crammed into 2.5 hours YET I was glancing at my watch after about 1.5. I’d had enough.

  10. I cringed as they began spewing cliche after cliche (“Like Aladin, but with cocktails!”), and recycled lines from the TV show. That’s what I call scraping the bottom of the broke-ass barrel.

    And as I was sitting in the theater, five cosmos in my belly, I couldn’t help but wonder…who let this craptastic piece of trash be made?

    RIP the Original HBO Series.

  11. My husband & I went with absolutely no expectations whatsoever other than the hope that we’d be entertained. We were. That being said, as soon as I saw Samantha slathering on the hormone creams, I cringed, remembering the amount of time that was devoted to her bout with breast cancer. The writers, advisors, actors, etc. collectively must have been out to lunch the day that was added to the script. How could they have been so moronic?

    Agreed that the best and most realistic scene in the film was in the bar as Charlotte & Miranda shared their frustrations and drank themselves silly.

  12. I agree completely that the beginning and middle were good but the ending, sadly, was not. My favorite part was the Miranda/Charlotte scene. I love that we get an intimate view of their friendship.
    I so wanted to love this movie but, the designer duds under the burkas?
    The reward for kissing an ex is jewelry?
    The stupid camel toe joke?

    Puh-leeze!

  13. Totally agree on the camel toe front. I saw it on SJP in those high-wasted jeans. Bad news.

  14. I want to get married again and have a gay wedding like the one in the film: black + white, with an all gay choir. Also, heart your review.

  15. LOVED your review!!! I was so disappointed in the movie. With the exception of the scene between Charlotte and Miranda pouring their hearts out over how difficult it can be and is to be a mom, I could have done without the rest of it.

    They should have stopped at SATC 1.

  16. I had an unexpected day off yesterday and took myself to see SATC2. I wasn’t expecting much after hearing mixed reviews but I was very happy with it. It was hokey, corny and unrealistic but it was also like seeing old friends who you haven’t seen in a few years. I left wanting to see my “friends” again. PS isn’t Abu Dhabi is like a magical fairy land? It reminds me of what NYC was like for me as a child.

  17. I knew about the bad reviews but I love SATC and would have loved any opportunity to see them again.

    I loved the movie, although I got some scenes were out of place, like the girls of Abu Dhabi. But truly, this show was always an escape from reality… fashion, love, sex!! Cheers!

  18. I didn’t read this whole thing (spoilers) but I liked what you had to say at the beginning. Agree with you on the puns. Interfriendation…no!

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