Revs-"Sex in the City";"Parenthood"

It was not planned that a 1989 old-fashioned film about parenting and the travails of same would air the seem weekend that I dutifully taped the very hip and modern "Sex in the City" but so it was.

So The Wise I gives a review of both movies, the similarities (few), the differences ( times change) and attempts to draw a moral from it all.

With pics and video you'll find nowhere else on the Internet.

Pic of the Day
Why is dog so big?

DISCLAIMER: Movie Reviews

I rarely see a first-run movie so any movie reviews I do are likely older ones. But if you're looking to rent a DVD for the weekend, or just want a new perspective on a movie you remember fondly, or not-so-fondly, read on.

Review Two Movies-One from 1989, One from 2008

I planned to watch one of the movies reviewed below as I went to great lengths to DVR the thing. The other movie happened to be playing at a time when I had nothing better to watch. I do pay a premium for these movies and so when I saw Steve Martin starring in yet another movie where he’s a great Dad I decided to settle in, surf the net, and let the movie play out as a sort of background noise.

This spur of the moment movie was titled “Parenthood” and let me say right now that Steve Martin should be the best father on the planet because he’s hardly ever in any other film besides being cast as a loving but beleaguered father. I don’t even know if Steve Martin has kids but I’d sure like to talk to them, get the inside scoop so to speak.

The other, properly DVR’d and relished for proper watching time was “Sex in the City”. Which is odd, I’d offer, in that I have NEVER watched a single episode of that vaunted TV show. I sure heard plenty about it, however, and I thought, cool, I’ll watch the movie and catch up on everything.

Both movies featured a segment of the population that were very far apart. And both movies did a pretty good job of it.

“Parenthood” was by far the better movie in terms of acting, fluidity of screen play, message and believability.

Yes indeed, yon reader, you read this right. One might think “Parenthood” would be a schmaltzy movie, a shallow affair that is filled with knee-jerk emotions and armchair solutions.

Well there’s that.

“Sex in the City” however, no matter how vaunted its TV predecessor, was a disjointed, illogical, confusing mess of a film. “Parenthood” flowed logically, was comprehensible and the acting was pretty good.

“Parenthood” is the story of the Buckman family. The patriarch of the Buckman, played wonderfully by Jason Robards, is himself an imperfect parent, at least as his grown kids see it. Frank Buckman has four kids and this movie is the story of those kids and how they struggle to deal with THEIR kids.

Gil Buckman, played by Martin, has three children. His kids are weird, the oldest labeled as psychologically troubled by the school, the youngest a toddler who oddly enjoys banging his head against things.

One of Gil’s sisters has a troublesome teenaged daughter and a son entering puberty roughly and without the help of a father. The movie deals with her struggles to deal with the daughter and her errant boyfriend, dating as a single parent, and that son who is overwhelmed as his body changes and new urges come upon him.

Gil’s other sister is married to an anal control freak, played by Rick Moranis. They have one daughter who the control freak spends endless hours teaching her things way above her age level.

The youngest of the Buckman brood is the black sheep who makes a sudden appearance after many years away. He brings back a son, obviously a half-black child who was abandoned on his doorstep by the child’s mother. The Buckman black sheep is his biological father as we are to understand.

This black sheep is beloved by patriarch Frank Buckman even as the cherished son attempts to steal his father’s joy, a classic car he nourished from junk to spit shine. This black sheep turns out to have amassed some huge gambling debts and when chicanery doesn’t work, he approaches his father for $26,000 to prevent his murder from those bookies he owes.

Montage PARENTHOOD movie

The movie plows along, engagingly and entertainingly, yes it does. The characters struggle with their children, quit their jobs, fulfill their obligations, see their children ran off, suffer the pain of life gone awry, deal with unwanted pregnancies, all the things parents deal with on a regular basis across America’s fruited plains.

As expected, the movie does have a semi-sweet ending. The solutions come but they are not perfect. The black sheep runs away rather than accept the maturity to handle his debts. The half-black son is abandoned but accepted with great love into the Buckman clan, an invitation the child eagerly accepts so the Buckmans can’t be all that bad. Remarriages happen, unplanned babies are birthed, teenage marriages succeed if only temporarily.

Frank Buckman’s mother sums the whole thing up in a scene and while it might be knee jerk, it’s different and thoughtful. Something about a roller coaster.

I quite enjoyed this movie and would recommend it to almost anyone. In fact I want my own granddaughter Kaitlyn Mae to watch it some day.

Below, one of Steve Martin’s best scenes in the movie.


Two actors in this movie went on to become way more famous than their bit parts would suggest. Jennifer Hudson plays writer Carrie Bradshaw’s assistant and we all know how far this former runner-up for American Idol has become.

And there’s Gilles Marini, a fellow whose penis was on display in this movie, if only for a few seconds. Marini now dances, very well, in ABC’s “Dancing With the Stars” and for this he will more likely be a household face than because of this movie.

Sex in the City Montage

I am sorry folks. This movie has two major, major flaws. First, parts of the plot are totally unbelievable. Second, the screenplay does not roll along engagingly. It is, instead, disjointed, rocky, confusing. The writers seemed to have randomly stuck scenes in for want of leaving an awkward vacuum.

This movie is about characters as far removed from those in “Parenthood”, reviewed above, as possible.

All of the main characters are female, they all seem to be financially well off, and while they are in relationships with the opposite sex of some sort, there’s very little going on in the way or parenthood. In fact, the film’s star doesn’t appear will ever have a child and doesn’t seemed concerned about it.

Another character, Samantha, played by Kim Cattrall, turns 50 in the film and has no children. Miranda, played by Cynthia Nixon, has a little boy but I question her devotion to her son, more on this later, and unbelievableness, later. Charlotte, played by Kristin Davis, has an adopted Chinese daughter and later becomes pregnant. I wonder about her motherhood skills as she constantly exposes her daughter to adult female sex talk totally inappropriate for such a young girl.

In fact, the characters in “Sex in the City” could be called, by the unkind, as vapid, shallow and possessing few morals. The kind would dismiss them as confused females sprung from today’s culture.

But hey, for movie viewers such as myself, it’s an escape into a fantasy world. I quite enjoyed the fashion and there was plenty of it. Surely any female tuning into to this movie would know, by virtue of the TV predecessor and its fame, that fashion was a benchmark of the series.

I don’t dress, or did I ever dress, like those women and for sure I never attended a fashion show as feature in the film clip below.

Again, it’s a movie, it’s fantasy, it’s about a life that ordinary women like me imagine is lived by some females out there even though most of us don’t know any of them.

If the movie had just stuck to the sex scenes, the fashion shows, maybe a little on the male/female relationships, no one could complain about not having gotten their money’s worth.

But no, they had to go and make a story line and this was the problem.

Nixon’s character confesses, during a lunch dinner, that her life has been so busy that she and her husband hadn’t had sex in six months.

Folks, SIX MONTHS? Any normal married couple in the mid to late 30’s as I surmise this character is, going without sex for six months should be on the verge of divorce. I’ll go out on a limb here and say there’s something seriously wrong with that marriage and I’m nowhere near the league of these characters in “Sex and the City”. These modern, young, hip, liberated women should be doing the deed every night as I envision, at least every other night. But nothing for six months?

At some point in time later, Nixon’s character’s husband suddenly confesses, out of nowhere, that he engaged in a one night stand. Folks, I find this totally unbelievable. Maybe I missed something but hey, it’s not like Nixon’s character CAUGHT the guy in the act. Everybody out there who’s got a husband who would voluntarily, for no reason save to assuage a guilty conscience, confess to adultery, please raise your hand. Hell, how many women would confess to such a thing if not required?

Not that I write with any expertise on the matter but hey, a spouse who ups and confesses to a one-night adulterous affair has one of two things going on…he or she wants his or her spouse to know that he or she was driven to such an act OR the adulterous spouse wants to brag.

We could understand a confession of an ongoing affair as maybe real love is involved, perhaps a request for a divorce. But to just up and confess such a thing?

Nixon’s character, she who admitted she and hubby had sex a full six months ago, proceeds to kick out her adulterous husband and the rest of the movie involves, in jagged, difficult to follow sequences, that character’s wrestling and coming to terms with the betrayal.

First, no sex for six months, right there something’s wrong. The guy admits he had a one night stand but sheesh, you’d think she’d cut him some slack. Don’t forget, Nixon’s character has a little boy and did she give that child any thought?

Yeah, eventually Nixon’s character reconciled with her husband but I wanted to slap her early on to get a grip, face that letting six months slip by with no physical activity (sure, in certain circumstances such a thing happens but in one’s mid-30’s?) was a sign something was amiss.

Then we have Parker’s character and her groom-to-be got cold feet on his wedding day.

Folks, I don’t think I’ve ever seen someone overreact like Parker’s character. Understand that the hunk she was marrying didn’t leave her standing at the altar. He did phone her up while he was in his limousine. He said he couldn’t go through with it but soon enough he realized his mistake and had his limo driver chase Parker’s character’s limo through town. He even got out of the car to express his regret and goodness, he was ready to get married. It was, as the viewer understand, a moment of cold feet. Instead Parker’s character beats the guy all to hell with her bouquet and leaves him cold.

This was unbelievable as well. Both of these women came off as cold, vapid, unforgiving, almost unhuman.

Of course the movie continued on after the initial break-ups. We had the characters going to Mexico, racing madly through town to be together on New Year’s Eve, moving out of apartments and back into apartments and meanwhile, over here, we had another character filled with the hots for some stud muffin (Gilles Marini…now dancing on ABC’s “Dancing With the Stars”) who beds a different babe every night, sometimes two a night. He’s hardly anybody I’d lust for but then I’m not a character on “Sex in the City”. Sure, he was a handsome dude but I stand by my belief that females are just not as into looks as our male counterparts. I’d have been turned off dead the moment I saw him in bed with two babes, which this character did witness. It only aroused her more.

Like I said, the “Sex in the City” characters were of a different breed, miles apart, from the “Parenthood” characters. Well of course, I understand, they were two very different screenplays telling two very different stories. It was a coincidence that I’d watched both movies on the same day but there was a certain serendipity about that bit of providence.

And on some level I did enjoy the film “Sex in the City”. It’s definitely a chick flick film but I’m willing to bet very few women who see this movie, or watched the TV show for that matter, were anything like the characters as depicted. For us less sophisticated and worldly women, this movie was more an intriguing peek into a world we know we’d never populate and most importantly, we’d never want to.

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1 comment:

  1. I'm ignoring the "Sex in the City" review. The entire series is a gay man's fantasy about how straight women would act if they acted like gay men. If you imagined what you saw on screen being played entirely by gay men, then the series makes sense. Otherwise, it needs to be ignored. (I for one have *never* met *any* women who act like the Sex in the City gals; the women I encounter in real life all have brains and at least a modicum of morality.)

    I would like to note OTOH that PARENTHOOD is a brilliant movie.

    In particular, Mr. Martin's travails with his eldest, eight year old son is portrayed with absolute perfection... not just by Mr. Martin, but by the remarkable youngster who plays the boy.

    It's clear (looking back 20 years) that the child suffers from Asperger's Syndrome, a form of autism. It's the only realistic portrayal of Aspergerdom I've ever seen in the movies, and it is flawless. The actor? Jasen Fisher, his name was; he was only in three movies, and he is now living somewhere in Illinois. Alas.

    Richard L. Kent, Esq.