New Year’s Eve

December 9, 2011 by  
Filed under Reviews

Starring: Sarah Jessica Parker, Jessica Biel, Ashton Kutcher
Directed by: Gary Marshall (“Valentine’s Day”)
Written by: Katherine Fugate (“Valentine’s Day”)

Forget about eating healthier or going to the gym more often. Don’t worry about watching less TV or cutting back on coffee in the morning. If you really want to make a New Year’s resolution that will benefit your well-being, promise yourself not to feed the holiday cinematic beast called “New Year’s Eve,” the second purposeless celebrity mishmash rom-com brought to you by Hollywood nice-guy director Gary Marshall (“Pretty Woman”).

It’s been quite a while since Marshall has given audiences anything with substance. Unless you liked the torturously unfunny “Valentine’s Day” of last year, there’s no need to subject yourself to the same humdrum narrative pattern screenwriter Katherine Fugate has tried once again to pass off as something resembling a logical script. As if “Valentine’s Day” never happened, Fugate fails to realize that squeezing a sizeable series of storylines into one movie is like force feeding a full person. There is literally no room to expand on anything and – more than likely – things are bound to get messy.

Even more curious than the shameful script is the fact that so many high-profile stars decided to add their name to the swelling cast. Sure, money (and what was probably a short production schedule) talks, but actors like Robert De Niro, Halle Berry and Hilary Swank can’t be that hard up for work to take on a project as thinly-written as this. They should’ve known something was wrong when the New York City they inhabit in this movie is one where comedian Seth Meyers has a chance to make babies with Jessica Biel.

Sex and the City 2

May 28, 2010 by  
Filed under Reviews

Starring: Sarah Jessica Parker, Kristin Davis, Kim Cattrall, Cynthia Nixon
Directed by: Michael Patrick King (“Sex and the City”)
Written by: Michael Patrick King (“Sex and the City”)

While we might have given New York City fashionista and professional bachelorette Carrie Bradshaw (Sarah Jessica Parker) free reign to dole out anecdotes about her single life throughout the late 90s and entire Aughts, it would probably be a good idea now if she tucked away those six-inch heels before somebody gets hurt.

After a half dozen entertaining seasons on TV and one frivolous feature film two years ago, director/writer Michael Patrick King refuses to recognize when enough is enough. Instead, King unleashes “Sex in the City 2,” a sequel larger in scope, style and senselessness and less focused on script.

It may be just the fix indiscriminate female fans of the series need to get them through the summer, but for everyone else the antics of the fab four – Carrie, Samantha (Kim Cattrall), Charlotte (Kristin Davis), and Miranda (Cynthia Nixon) – are beyond intolerable.

Attempting to squeeze herself into a mold she does not fit (the new generation’s feminist extraordinaire), Carrie, the self-absorbed character most female fans flock to for a vicarious fantasy, is once again up to her neck in emotional turmoil.

Marriage life with Mr. Big (Chris Noth) is not how she envisioned it. Feeling like her wings have been clipped because Big would rather watch TV and order in instead of painting the town like they used to, Carrie decides she needs to freshen up her life with a trip to Abu Dhabi with her gal pals.

The all-expenses-paid trip courtesy of Samantha’s potential new business partner comes at the most opportune time. Not only is Carrie suffering from cabin fever, Miranda is stressed out about how her job keeps her from spending enough time with Steve (David Eigenberg) and her son (going out of the country makes sense), Charlotte is worried about Harry (Evan Handler) cheating on her with the braless Irish nanny (Alice Eve), and Samantha is trying to handle her new life of hormonal hell with enough pills and creams to start her own pharmacy.

It is obvious King seriously thought he had an epic story here that could fill a bloated 145 minutes of ridiculous dialogue and enough politically incorrect Muslim humor to get them on at least one extremist’s hit list. While in Abu Dhabi, the ladies, who already look like their faces are melting away even before they go camel riding in the desert, share their thoughts on love, sex, relationships, and motherhood with little substance to offer on any of the topics.

Even as lightweight and cloaked in hypocrisy as the first film was, at least it felt like an offshoot to the TV series – a bad four episodes but part of the whole nonetheless. With “Sex and the City 2” the women have nothing besides their names and unattractive attitudes to link them back to what made their friendships interesting in the first place.

Tossing out random scenes where the foursome sings Helen Reddy’s “I Am Woman” at a karaoke bar or wonders how Arab women in abayas can live in a culture where Chanel and Dolce & Gabbana don’t exist doesn’t cut it. We’re not sure how much longer Carrie can continue to pretend like she’s the voice of female empowerment (50 years old? 60?!) but let’s just be relieved to know Manolo Blahnik has yet to design their version of a therapeutic shoe.

Did You Hear About the Morgans?

January 26, 2010 by  
Filed under CineStrays

Starring: Hugh Grant, Sarah Jessica Parker, Natalia Klimas
Directed by: Marc Lawrence (“Music and Lyrics”)
Written by: Marc Lawrence (“Music and Lyrics”)

Another fish-out-of-water story that sinks to the bottom of the sea, “Did You Hear About the Morgans?” pits likeable Hugh Grant and Sarah Jessica Parker into an asinine story that is predictable, cliché and  incredibly unfunny. In the film, Grant and Parker play an estranged married couple who are sent to Wyoming to live under the witness protection program. Someone needs to tell director/writer Marc Lawrence that he might want to rethink writing a four romantic comedy after he’s bored us to death with “Morgans,” “Music and Lyrics” and “Two-Weeks Notice.”

Sex and the City: The Movie

May 25, 2008 by  
Filed under Reviews

Starring: Sarah Jessica Parker, Kim Cattrall, Cynthia Nixon
Directed by: Michael Patrick King (TV’s “Sex and the City”)
Written by: Michael Patrick King (TV’s “Sex and the City”)

After keeping women everywhere at bay for four years since the HBO series came to an end, everyone’s favorite New York City girls are back with more emotional issues than before in the film version of “Sex and the City.”

Where the TV series was charming, witty, and as light as yogurt, “Sex” at the cinema can wear you down like a triple cheeseburger sitting in your small intestine. Unless you are an estrogen-filled super fan who would maim their girlfriends over a designer handbag, skip the martinis and instead buy the $200 pink felt-covered collector’s giftset. At least then you can remember the ladies as they were in those fabulous six TV seasons. Although the names and problems basically stay the same, there is less spirit and story spread over the movie’s 135-minute mini-marathon.

In the film, the always lovable and neurotic Carrie Bradshaw (Sarah Jessica Parker) reunites with hopeless romantic Charlotte York (Kristin Davis), sexualized cougar Samantha Jones (Kim Cattrall), and practical redhead Miranda Hobbes (Cynthia Nixon) for her extravagant wedding to Mr. Big (Chris Noth).

But when Big gets cold feet (or whatever you would call what happens during those ridiculous scenes where he doesn’t show up for the wedding), the ladies must lean on each other for support as each of them (with the exception of Charlotte whose life is picture perfect) find themselves facing a new set of relationship problems.

Written and directed by TV series regular Michael Patrick King, “Sex in the City,” when compared to the show, lacks thematically. It’s not the length the film runs that is bothersome. It’s that King can’t seem to find anything to fill the space with other than scenes of self-pity. When the girls do finally come around and realize they’re supposed to be having fun, it’s far too late to save any of them.

King simply flattens the characters instead of broadening them for the big screen. All the girls are the same, which might be great for avid fans, but bland for others who were hoping for more from the screenplay. It’s been four years and the foursome hasn’t changed in the slightest. That might be nice to hear for Manolo Blahnik lovers but not for women who like their female empowering heroes built with a little less desperation.

Smart People

April 6, 2008 by  
Filed under Reviews

Starring: Dennis Quaid, Sarah Jessica Parker, Ellen Page
Directed by: Noam Murro
Written by: Mark Poirier (debut)

Director Noam Murro isn’t director/writer Noah Baumbach (“The Squid and the Whale,” “Margot at the Wedding”) when it comes to scathing witticism between family members, but in his feature film debut “Smart People,” he manages to get in a few solid shots below the belt to give his characters enough spirit to last them through the entire fight.

In “Smart People,” Murro and screenwriter Mark Poirier tell the snarky story of the dysfunctional albeit intellectual Weatherhold family, who are well aware of their above average intelligence and carry themselves in such a manner.

Lawrence (Dennis Quaid), is a tenured college professor who doesn’t really like teaching anymore and always seems on edge probably because his manuscript is continually being rejected by important publishing houses. His daughter Vanessa (Ellen Page), is basically the mirror image of her father – bookish, lonely, and a tad mean. Her only worries in life include the number of academically-admirable extracurricular activities she can add to her resume and scoring a 1600 on the SAT. There’s also a brother character, but his role in the film is inconsequential except for the childish arguments he has with his sister.

When Lawrence suffers a seizure after falling from a fence while trying to illegally retrieve something from his impounded car, Dr. Janet Hartigan (Sarah Jessica Paker) orders him to follow the law and stop driving for six months. With no one in the family willing to step up and become their dad’s chauffer, Lawrence’s slacker (and adopted) brother Chuck (Thomas Hayden Church) moves in despite objection from Lawrence who knows the only reason he is volunteering is because he wants something.

With everyone under one roof, the family dynamic becomes more uncomfortable as Chuck attempts to get his niece out of her shell and Lawrence jumps into the dating scene again by asking the good doctor Hartigan out for dinner. At times, it almost feels like “The Royal Tenenbaums” with less snappiness and stylistic fervor.

The film hosts a wonderful, offbeat cast especially with Church as the cool, middle-aged uncle who smokes out and buys beer for his teenage niece. Call Church officially reestablished in the industry. With a gem like “Sideways” and now this, he can be a nice addition to any cast. The same goes for Page, who is coming off her best year as a young actress for her Academy Award-nominated portrayal of the titular character in “Juno.” In “Smart People,” she’s just as charming, but in a depressing and Republican sort of way.

In all, “Smart People” is a cleverly-written little picture that will probably slide under the radar unless your part of the indie house crowd. If you’re not, you’re definitely missing out on a stark, character-driven dark comedy that anyone with a bit of a snobby side can enjoy.