I wish the Sex and the City movie had been a musical, with our four favorite fashion plates addressing their relationship problems by bursting into song and dance.
That, or turned into a Bourne Ultimatum-style thriller with car chases and explosions. Either of those would have been awesome. Instead, the film covers the same ground as the much-loved TV show did, which will be welcome news to the show’s devotees. For the casual fan, not so much.
The movie arrives four years after the TV show’s demise, so a similar length of time has passed in the characters’ lives. Carrie Bradshaw (Sarah Jessica Parker) and John “Mr. Big” Preston (Chris Noth) are happily attached, but Carrie decides she needs the legal protection offered by marriage, so they agree to get hitched. This being Carrie and Big, it doesn’t go smoothly. The other plotlines, in decreasing order of interest, are: Miranda (Cynthia Nixon) leaves Steve (David Eigenberg) after he cheats on her, Samantha (Kim Cattrall) grows dissatisfied with both life in L.A. and being tied down to one guy, and Charlotte (Kristin Davis) gets pregnant. Don’t worry if you’re an infrequent viewer of the show like me – you’ll still pick up the action pretty quickly.
The main problem here is easy to sniff out: Writer/director Michael Patrick King (head writer on the show) tries to squeeze a whole TV season’s worth of plotlines into this 135-minute film, and it’s like trying to fit a size 6 body into a size 2 dress. A lot of stuff happens, yet the movie still runs into dead spots. The male characters are reduced to bystanders, and a shoehorned-in Jennifer Hudson really gets shorted as Carrie’s new assistant. By comparison, last summer’s The Simpsons Movie didn’t tack in any radically different directions either, but it was a much more satisfying film because it had just enough material to fill out its running time.
The DELETE is quite funny in spots, and the four stars are charming enough to redeem these superficial characters. Like the show, the movie is at its best when it forgets about the fashions and focuses on the friendships among these women. The sequence with Carrie running across a snow-covered Manhattan to comfort a lonely and depressed Miranda on New Year’s Eve is rousing stuff, and the movie’s one authentic surprise comes after Carrie’s wedding implodes, which inspires Charlotte (of all people!) to scream at Big with a look of pure, cold fury on her face. Shortly thereafter, Carrie flees to Mexico and catches her reflection in her hotel room mirror, with no makeup and looking about 112 years old – a rare moment of unfabulousness that’s rather fabulous in its honesty.
Still, these are only moments. There are so few movies anymore about female friendship, and this one’s hugely successful opening weekend proves once again that there’s an audience for such films that Hollywood somehow doesn’t see. Those crowds deserve a movie that kicks ass, and in a good-looking pair of designer shoes, too. The Sex and the City film occasionally is that movie, but not quite often enough.
Sex and the City:The Movie
Starring Sarah Jessica Parker, Kim Cattrall, Kristin Davis, and Cynthia Nixon. Written and directed by Michael Patrick King, based on the TV show created by Darren Star. Rated R.