Sex and the City
Directed by Michael Patrick King
2008, New Line Cinema
By Madeleine Sims-Fewer
Sitting in the packed cinema, inhaling estrogen fumes from all sides, I felt a little out of place. Yes, I am a woman, and yes, I have seen every episode of Sex and the City (though as a self-proclaimed feminist I pretend otherwise). I had no giggly gaggle of friends to share the experience with, only my notepad and a box of vegetarian dumplings, which I closed tight after one woman felt the need to shout, “Eew, what’s that smell?” (I’d like to point out that she was chomping on a cholesterol castle of a burger.) Travelling in packs must be what makes the film enjoyable, because if it weren’t for the rows of pointy heels I would have had to negotiate past on my way to the door, I would have walked out.
From the opening credits, Sex and the City is a fluffy, consumer product that cannot stand out as its own movie. The theme song shimmers through the speakers, prompting applause from the audience, but it is the revamped, Fergie-styled song that takes over, with her signature bark and tacky lyrics that make the film reminiscent of an episode of The Hills. Carrie’s voice-over sums up the series in a few quips, bringing us up to date and making it clear that this is a film for fans only. It doesn’t have two legs to stand on, let alone a pair of Manolos to walk in.
Then we get down to business, back in the lives of our four protagonists four years after the show gave them the happy endings we should have accepted and moved on from. Carrie’s relationship with Big still has an air of the high school about it, Charlotte is annoyingly happy with her cute daughter and perfect sex life, Miranda is cranky with a husband who, quite frankly, you can hardly blame for cheating on her, and Samantha…well, she just wants to have sex.
The film plods along, dragging its heels through mundane writing and a plot that misses the point of the show. There is no structure, no stakes or character progression, nothing to pull you in, unless you are already a fan of the series. For dramatic effect, it should have started with the wedding of Carrie and Big, but for some reason it starts pretty much where the show left off, but with a time lapse where not much seems to have happened. When big dramatic scenes are set up, like Miranda finding out that Steve has cheated, the writers avoid all the juicy dramatic details that the audience wants to see and conveniently skip to the aftermath. This happens several times, and it feels like an episode that has been chopped up and scaled down for daytime television.
The actors aren’t given much to work with, yet happily some of them do quite well. Sarah Jessica Parker and Cynthia Nixon give solid performances displaying depth and range. However, the fact that this was written, filmed, and acted like a TV show is patently obvious, especially in the more emotional scenes, where what should have been sensitive close ups reveal hammy facial expressions that you can let go in your living room, but in the cinema just make you squirm. Jennifer Hudson as Carrie’s assistant is utterly superfluous, turning in an embarrassingly earnest performance and saying lines like “my very own Louis Vuitton” with a wide-eyed enthusiasm that would be embarrassing for any Oscar winner.
Inevitably there will be a sequel, if not two. I just hope that the writers can throw away the fashion jargon in favour of the witty dialogue that peppered the original series and gave it so much flavour. Why, I ask, did they not just make season seven? Ahh yes, bigger paychecks.