Sex and the City
Directed by Michael Patrick King
HBO Films/New Line Cinema 2008
By Rachel West
Sex and the City finally hit the big screen, and faithful female fans (and a few males) turned up in droves to be reunited with their best friends: Carrie, Charlotte, Samantha, and Miranda. It’s been three years since the fab four took their final bows in the series finale, and the big screen version was filled with all the show’s trademark breakups and breakdowns, haute couture and horrendous outfits, shopping, men, sex, and the city.
It seems like a lot to cram into a single movie — and it is. Clocking in at just under two and a half hours (or the equivalent of five episodes), the Sex and the City movie manages to make characters who were formally so full of life into dull, whining women over 40. Lacking any of the series’ charm, vitality, or wit, the movie makes caricatures out of characters who, at times, seem shallow on the big screen.
The topics of marriage, divorce, childbirth, monogamy, apartment hunting, and watered-down sex round out the general plot, which is too drawn out to describe in detail. If you’re looking for the often borderline X-rated sex scenes and colourful, expletive-laden language of the series, you’ll be sorely disappointed. The film has toned down the very things that made the series both provocative and progressive. While not wholly sanitized (there are a few scenes of a steamy-nature), it’s nowhere near the usual levels of a 30 minute episode.
The film smartly picks up where the series ended by tying up loose ends left hanging in the finale and moving on from there instead of revisiting the past. The opening credits do a handy job of recapping the series and giving the lowdown on the four women for those who aren’t familiar with the series; but let’s face it: the Sex and the City movie is only going to attract fans of the show, and it’s debatable if the film will attract new viewers to the series on DVD.
Carrie (Sarah Jessica Parker), the once strong voice of love and the single life in New York, becomes as dull and faded as last season’s designer duds. As she ponders life and love for the over 40 set, she becomes as bland as any other romantic comedy cookie cutter star. Carrie just isn’t as in control as she was in the series. The other characters suffer similar fates: sex-crazed Samantha (Kim Cattrall) lacks the fiery spirit she once embodied, and Charlotte (Kritisn Davis) merrily skips along the perky path of life without any trials or tribulations. One unfortunate addition as Carrie’s assistant Louise is Oscar-winner Jennifer Hudson, who doesn’t exactly prove her acting merit with a stereotyped role and a bit of soon-to-be-dated pop culture casting. The one gem in the over-jeweled designer crown is Cynthia Nixon, who is handed the meatiest acting part in the film as Miranda. She stands out from the other characters thanks in part to the script.
The men are back too—Mr. Big, Harry, Stanford, Steve, and Smith—to various underused degrees, as is Candice Bergen who reprises her role as Vogue’s editor-in-chief.
Diehard fans are sure to be disappointed that the women they have grown to love aren’t back in full force. But they will delight in seeing their favourites back in the spotlight. For the uninitiated, however, Sex and the City plays out like any other romantic comedy, albeit one with better shoes and designer outfits.