It’s been four years since we last saw columnist Carrie Bradshaw (Sarah Jessica Parker) and her faithful best friends--Miranda (Cynthia Nixon) Charlotte (Kristin Davis) and Samantha (Kim Cattrall). The years have been kind to them: Charlotte is living her dream life with her loving husband Harry (Evan Handler) and adoptive 3-year-old Chinese daughter; Samantha has moved to L.A. to manage her boy toy Smith’s (Jason Lewis) acting career and give monogamy a chance; Miranda is a working mom in Brooklyn juggling her demanding career and her marriage to Steve (David Eigenberg); and finally Carrie now a bestselling author who has settled into domestic bliss with her beloved “man friend” John James Preston aka Mr. Big (Chris Noth). Domestic bliss? Carrie and Big? Is that possible? Well let’s just say the road to happiness still isn’t smooth for any of them (save maybe Charlotte) but the film’s outcome is a wholly satisfying experience. For our four lovely leading ladies reprising their Sexy alter egos must have been like riding a bicycle. Parker Nixon Davis and Cattrall defined their SATC roles so succinctly during the HBO show’s six-year run that watching them again feels as if they never stopped. Parker especially eases right back into Carrie mode albeit older and wiser. Gone are her earlier youthful hang ups about commitment replaced by a stronger more mature Carrie--who still has her quirky insecurities. And of course her fabulous one-liners still fly fast and furious (“I need to get out of this Mexi-coma” is a personal favorite). Oscar-winner Jennifer Hudson adds a fifth element to the proceedings as Carrie’s smart and sassy assistant who has firm belief in love. The men of SATC also fit right in again. Noth’s Big in particular continues to frustrate but ultimately becomes the man we all knew he could be. The road to a big-screen adaptation of Sex and the City was also not a smooth one. After the show ended in 2004 there were immediate talks about doing a movie version. But not everyone in the cast was ready to continue the gig--namely Kim Cattrall who decided she needed a break (and possibly more money). Still through the perseverance of producer Sarah Jessica Parker and writer/director Michael Patrick King SATC The Movie finally became a reality--and we are very thankful that it did. Many fans just couldn’t let go after the show’s series finale; they wanted more. And so the film gives back in spades bringing us back into these women’s lives for awhile longer--almost to a fault actually. The half-hour TV show was perfect but a SATC film at two hours and some change drags a little in the middle. There’s also the fact the film is certainly grander glossier in scale than the more grounded TV show. Nevertheless it’s just what the doctor ordered for those lovers of all things Sex and the City. Bring on the sequels!
At first glance The Family Stone appears to be yet another silly romp about family dynamics. But the Stones a vivacious loving liberal-minded New England family are more than just cardboard cut-outs; they’re as real as any dysfunctional family can be. The film begins with the Stones getting ready for their annual holiday gathering. Matriarch Sybil (Diane Keaton) is especially anxious to meet her eldest son’s (Dermot Mulroney) girlfriend Meredith (Sarah Jessica Parker). The family has been warned Meredith is a controlling neurotic New Yorker with very little redeemable qualities. And when Meredith arrives she certainly does nothing to dispel the notion meeting her potential eccentric in-laws with a mix of awkwardness confusion and hostility. Yet oddly enough the disruption brings about some needed changes within the family Stone allowing them to come together and realize their extraordinary capacity for love. Everyone in this stellar ensemble rises to the occasion and truly paints a very vivid picture of a family devoted to one another--but who are less than approachable to outsiders. As mom Keaton turns in yet another genuine look at a complicated woman dealing with some insurmountable obstacles while Craig T. Nelson as her loyal husband does a nice job conveying a warmth to their marriage. Playing their grownup children is Mulroney as the straight-laced “suit” Everett who isn’t all that priggish; Luke Wilson as the laid-back Ben who seems to have strayed the most from his family; and Rachel McAdams as the passionate if rather acerbic little sister. But the real revelation is Parker as the uptight highly unlikable Meredith. It’s quite a departure from her fun-lovin’ Sex
and the City days and the Parker--who truly is one of the better comedic actresses we have today--easily handles the unpleasant chores of playing someone suffering with chronic foot-in-mouth syndrome. Like many newbie filmmakers writer/director Thomas Bezucha--whose only other credit is the little seen indie Big Eden--has the advantage of having that certain fresh quality to his work. Stone’s dialogue is snappy poignant and spot-on as the Stones interact with each other in all too familiar ways. The whole Meredith scenario will perhaps have many of us remembering similar situations--from both sides of the fence. It’s just as painful to have to meet the family of someone you love for the first time as it is dealing with a family member’s poor choices in mates. And what makes
The Family Stone stand out even more is how Bezucha truly defines the term “dramedy.” From the trailer the film seemed to be a balls-out slap-sticky comedy which in many ways it is but you may be surprised to see how The Family Stone’s more serious tones will touch you.