Apparently it’s been eight months since I railed against the Francophobic finale of Sex and the City, and I wasn’t in any rush particular rush to pick that scab again… but Ch4 televised the spin-off movie last Sunday, et voila, here we are! The last time we saw ‘Carrie Bradshaw’, she was being “rescued” from a fate worse than death (i.e., living a life of leisure and luxury in one of the most beautiful and exciting cities in Europe) by her on-again-off-again-oh-god-just-gag-me love interest, ‘Mr Big’, who safely returned her to the loving bosom of her three BFFs, ‘Samantha’, ‘Charlotte’ and ‘Miranda’. The movie picks up the story four years later, with Carrie and Big planning to buy an apartment together (what took them so long?), while Samantha suns herself in L.A. with her hunky film-star toy-boy, Charlotte dotes on her adopted Chinese daughter, and Miranda valiantly tries to balance her family-life with her lawyer-life.
Rather than trying to summarise the story that followed, I’d rather just poke at the parts that annoyed me… but where to start? Okay, the main focus of the movie is Carrie and Big’s decision to finally tie the knot, and the fallout that occurs when Big gets cold feet, and jilts her at the altar (technically, the steps of a library, but never mind that now) at the end of the first act! Of course, I’d long since lost any lingering sympathy for Carrie as a character, so this whole hoopla left me totally cold. She screwed Aidan over, and turned her back on France, so she can go choke on a tutu-skirt for all I care. The problem is that, despite the other cast members’ behind-the-scenes wrangling over pay and contracts, this movie is wall-to-wall Carrie. The other characters seem to get about as much solo screen-time here as they would have done in an average episode of the TV show… and considering the film runs well over two hours, that’s really saying something! The only relationship from the series I was still invested in was Miranda’s marriage to Steve, and I hate the way the writers split them up here, throwing in a totally out-of-the-blue admission of off-screen infidelity, followed by an immediate, unequivocal break-up. Bam! Yes, I got a little misty-eyed when they got back together again later in the movie, but I still resent being manipulated like that. The way I see it, the writers were just using Miranda as a plot device, to throw hurdles into Carrie’s path, which is a huge disservice to Cynthia Nixon and David Eigenberg, who are two of the most engaging and dynamic actors in the cast. Gah!
What else? Oh yeah… the “Samantha Shuffle” got quite irritating after a while, with her flying back and forth between the coasts at the drop of a hat, and the other gals shrieking every time she walked into a room. Her West Coast storyline was a total snooze-fest (aside from the gratuitous nudity), and as ever, all roads eventually lead back to New York, because… that’s the premise of the show, I guess. You’d think the writers could have broadened their horizons a little more, since the series was already dead, and there was no real need for them to restore the show’s default setting at the end of the story… but… yeah… whatever. The dialogue and narration also seemed to lack the trademark wit, wordplay and pizzaz that made the original so quotable, back in the day… aside from the pun quoted in this post’s title, that is (and even then the other characters pointed out that it was the first joke they’d heard Carrie make in a looong time).
Now, onto the parts that I did like… um… [extended pause]… Okay, well I loved seeing Charlotte’s anger towards Big, both on the wedding day, and afterwards, because Kristin Davis really seemed to be channelling some serious rage in those moments. That said, the shot of her gurning while she pooped her pants is probably the nadir of the series, not to mention Davis’s professional career (and quite possibly the history of Comedy as an art form). Oy! Sarah Jessica Parker looked pretty darn gorgeous throughout… although I don’t really think the brunette look she adopted in the latter half of the movie suited her (even if it is her natural colour). In the past I’ve claimed that “brunetter is better”, but I have to concede that sometimes blonde is best. It was nice to see ‘Stanford’ and ‘Mario’ again, although they got sod all screentime, despite supposedly being close friends of the four main characters. When the movie was being filmed, and the “on-set” photos were leaking out, I was heartened to learn that the writers were finally going to introduce a major African-American character to Carrie’s circle, in the shapely form of Jennifer Hudson. Unfortunately, ‘Louise’ doesn’t show up until about halfway through, and then all she does is schlepp around after the star, before buggering off back to St. Louis for an off-screen wedding, and never being seen or heard from again. As far as I can tell, she wasn’t even given a last name! Feh. Hudson does look super-cute here though, wearing way more glamorous outfits than the ones she was stuck with in The Secret Life of Bees, and they do include one of her songs on the soundtrack, so I guess she can’t complain…?
As for the supporting cast… Dreama Walker appears as an ‘Upper East Side Waitress’, who serves Charlotte shortly before she drops her sprog. Apparently Walker is best known for her recurring role as ‘Hazel Williams’ in Gossip Girl, but I prefer to think of her as ‘Becca’, the conniving girlfriend of Alicia’s son in The Good Wife, who got verbally smacked down by Eli Gold. Later this year she’ll be starring in a new ABC sitcom called Apartment 23 (originally titled “You Can’t Trust the Bitch in Apartment 23”) alongside Krysten Ritter and James Van Der Beek. Henriette Mantel appears as ‘Activist #1’, the anti-fur campaigner who throws red paint at Samantha’s coat. Mantel is an Emmy Award-winning writer, actress, producer, director, and stand-up comic, who I will always think of as ‘Alice’ the maid, in The Brady Bunch movies… but she’s also had minor roles in The Amanda Show, Will & Grace, Hitclown, The Office, I Want Someone to Eat Cheese With and The Sarah Silverman Program… while back in the real world, she’s worked as a writer/producer on The Osbournes and Michael Moore’s The Awful Truth. Suzanne Cryer appears as the ‘Dog Rescue Woman’ that Samantha buys a lascivious lapdog from. Cryer is probably best known for her role as ‘Ashley’ on Two Guys and a Girl, but also made two appearances on Frasier as Roz’s sister, and played a girlfriend of George’s on Seinfeld, who frequently used the phrase “yada yada” (in the episode of the same name).
Daphne Rubin-Vega appears as the ‘Baby Voiced Woman’ (their words, not mine) who chats with the gals in the auction room bathroom, and inadvertently sets the whole story rolling. Rubin-Vega is probably best known for originating the role of ‘Mimi Marquez’ in the Broadway musical Rent… although she couldn’t participate in the belated film adaptation, because she was pregnant at the time, so the role went to Rosario Dawson instead. Oh, and she also played ‘Det. Gloria Perez’, (aka the cop who wasn’t Kevin Bacon), in Wild Things. Joanna Gleason appears as the ‘Therapist’ that Miranda and Steve go to see, later in the movie… and was so convincing I just assumed she was an actual famous therapist that they’d convinced to make a cameo. Acting! Apparently Gleason is best known for her stage work, and has been honoured by the New England Theatre Conference with a Special Award for her Achievement in Theatre… but she’s also had recurring roles in Diff’rent Strokes, Tracey Takes On…, The West Wing, King of the Hill, and The Good Wife, as well as minor roles in Boogie Nights and The Wedding Planner.