Sunday, June 1, 2008
"Sex and the City," an Outsider's First Glimpse
I rarely go to movies, as my criteria for viewing are 1) no violence, 2) no suspense, and 3) no slapstick. I haven't watched TV since...okay, this sounds like a joke--1984. A condition of marriage to my husband was that our family never have a TV set. I thought it a bit extreme, a bit ridiculous, but since I loved this eccentric man and seldom watched my 10" diagonal set anyway, I said goodbye to cultural literacy and staples of social interaction such as The Cosby Show (not a single episode) and Frasier and a hundred other sources of chatter.
That included Sex and the City.
But last week, I got a glimpse, from afar, of the plugged-in life--I attended a screening of Sex and the City, the Movie. I'd been warned that this might be too risque for me, but hey, "no sex" is not one of my criteria. I'd been told it would be too superficial, what with the emphasis on designer clothes, botox and Manolo Blahniks. I was admonished that the romantic relationships the four friends experienced were selfish, and the plot setup contrived. But, I was also told that this was the story of four women loyal and supportive to each other, and that message is affirming and uplifting.
So, I saw the movie. All the little in-jokes and references went whooshing over my head. There was lots of nudity, and assumptions that sex outside of marriage is pretty much okay--except for a major subplot suggesting that, to the contrary, sex outside of marriage is devastating. And Carrie Bradshaw starts off the film getting engaged, hardly an unconventional step. Samantha Jones, the most overtly sexual of the quartet, is in a monogamous relationship, and goes as far as eating her way to an extra 15 lbs to remain so. And for the entire film, two main characters, Charlotte York, a sweet beauty queen, and Miranda Hobbes, a lawyer and mom of a five-year-old, remain married. Sexually daring? Promiscuous and free? No.
There were some sexy moments, but most of the lovemaking was to designer clothes.
The film felt like a soap opera condensed into a couple hours, and having never switched on HBO, I was out of the loop, but somehow managed to grab a curlicue and circle in on the flow and happily-ever-after finale. This may sound catty, but as a newbie to the show, I couldn't get past, pardon me, Sarah Jessica Parker's homeliness, and the lack of chemistry with her fiance, Big. But any movie involving a wedding, and scenes in the New York Public Library, Malibu and Acapulco can't be all bad. And this one wasn't; the mix of frou-frou and real-life relationship issues kept it moving and fun. Even the issues of life and death, aging and fidelity offered lighter angles to create the kind of movie you think about--for about two hours, and that's it.
This film is supposed to be Indiana Jones for women, and it's bound to make a stack of money, and for once, I get to be part of the cultural herd. (movie publicity photos copyright New Line Cinema)