What you definitely know her from:
Sex And The City, Hocus Pocus
What you might know her from:
Mars Attacks, New Year’s Eve
What you probably don’t know her from:
Ed Wood, The First Wives Club
A fashion icon. A cultural icon. The butt of many a good horse joke. Sarah Jessica Parker, or as she’s better known (particularly in my house) SJP, defined female orientated television for a generation. What’s she actually like as an actress, though? Let’s take a look.
Sex And The City
Let’s start with the big one. SJP doesn’t just play Carrie Bradshaw, she is Carrie Bradshaw. An annoying, indecisive, flawed woman with a predilection for asking herself questions as she sits and types at her laptop, Carrie Bradshaw is the main character of this show and yet, interestingly, probably the least likeable. Flitting between the infamous Mr Big and a whole host of other men with varying success, constantly making incredibly stupid decisions. Seriously, Carrie, you choose Big over AIDAN?! And then decide to screw it all over by making a poor decision in a second movie (itself a poor decision). Carrie is infuriating and yet somehow, SJP manages to keep us coming back to her. It’s actually a better performance than she’s given credit for. Just take a look at the scene where she begs Aidan for forgiveness after going back to Big. Despite the fact that this is a problem she has caused completely by herself, we still feel sorry for her. Watching her plead ‘You have to forgive me’ over and over is heartbreaking. Undoubtedly SJP’s best role.
A truly great film, whatever way you look at it. SJP gets the chance to show off some great comedy and display her ability to time a line perfectly. There’s something endearing about watching SJP prance about on a pavement hollering ‘Firm as stone firm as stone!’ Parker has a very clear role in this film, and it is simply to be the eye candy. Laced into a gravity defying corset which somehow manages to make her look as though she’s actually got breasts, SJP dances about, sits on bus drivers laps and giggles adorably throughout. It’s fun, endearing and pretty hilarious. Nothing groundbreaking, but solid enough work. Let’s be clear, though – this is the Bette Midler show, and everyone else is just trying to get their face noticed while the Divine Miss M hams it up.
Another comedy film, and again, Parker shows off some fine comedy acting, although not quite as great as Hocus Pocus. She plays Michael J Fox’s television presenter beau who eventually gets her head grafted onto that of a tiny dog. As hard as she tries, there’s not really much to go on with the performance, it all seems a little empty and futile, much like the film does, to be honest. Fantastic actors fighting for screen time make this a jarring comedy without much actual comedy, and it ultimately falls flat, with too much going off at once. Greater actors like Glenn Close and Jack Nicholson manage to escape unscathed and manage to create semi-memorable performances, while SJP gets left behind in a completely forgettable role.
She wears a dress well. She’s fond of crazy headpieces. She’s the darling of the fashion world. Can she actually act, though? It’s debatable. She’s not terrible, and there have been times when she has really shown that she can. She’s made a lot of poor decisions, though, and more often than not is pretty forgettable. She will always be remembered as Carrie Bradshaw, and that’s not a bad thing. It’s the best of her work, and over the course of six seasons and two movies she gets to show us that there is a reason she’s consistently in work. A lot of the time, though, her performances just lack heart. They’re hollow. Whether that’s down to the films or SJP is debatable. She can crack a quip and occasionally make us cry, but she rarely inhabits a role. You’re constantly aware that you are watching SJP on a cowboy ranch, or being a busy working mother, or running around New York on New Year’s Eve. That kinda works for Sex And The City, because Carrie and Sarah are almost one person, but for everything else? No way.
Overall Grade: C