Sex and the City
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145 min.
Release Date
Sex and the City

Stylish. Superficial. Sensual. Sentimental. A chance for alliteration: Sex and the City. Finally the four women from HBO’s trendy dramedy have their own movie. But they don’t waste the opportunity on humdrum sexcapades as the title suggests. Each of the characters finds themselves in a solid relationship, in no need of sexual experimentation—which for one or two of them ironically turns out to be problematic. Show creator Michael Patrick King wrote and directed the film, assuring each of his quartet has some growing to do within the much too long two-and-a-half hour episode: The writer-narrator Carrie (Sarah Jessica Parker) ponders marriage with her curiously bland and apathetic man-friend Mr. Big (Chris Noth). Los Angeles-relocated cougar Samantha (Kim Cattrall) ponders finally settling down with her seemingly perfect movie star lover Jerry Smith (Jason Lewis). Realist Miranda (Cynthia Nixon) finds her life rocked when her husband Steve (David Eigenberg) confesses an infidelity. And Charlotte (Kristin Davis) copes with her perfect marriage in lieu of Montezuma’s Revenge.

Possibly taking a cue from George Cukor’s 1939 dramedy The Women, King slaps a big fashion show right in the middle of his movie, reminding us all it’s not just about the laughs and cries: it’s about the labels. A woman in the row behind me couldn’t contain herself. “Look at those heels,” she announced. “Look at that closet!” If only the theater’s concessions stand sold cosmopolitans. Fans seem to have waved off the movie’s so-so reviews, arguing that the majority of critics are male and thus not the intended audience. But it’s a surefire drawback to any film when, in attempting to write about the romantic adventures of TV’s favorite New York women, the critic is hounded for their maleness. Indeed, this is the only time I felt out of place during a screening. Even during the advance showing of 27 Dresses, when I was in the theater with three hundred or more giggling women and their daughters, I felt more at home.

And so, I might not be the correct person to write a Sex and the City review, not only because I’m oblivious to their chic designer references and fashion know-how, but I’ve hardly been exposed to the show—only a glimpse here and there during channel surfing. Perhaps I could’ve done some pre-film research and rented the series’ six seasons on DVD, or read the last few months’ issues of Vogue. But should I really have to? When they make references to (what I assume are) past events on the show, I don’t know specifically of what they speak. When they all laugh knowingly about Carrie’s ongoing romances with Mr. Big, I can’t join in the fun. And I kept asking myself why Carrie’s cell phone was duct taped. The movie is jealously written for viewers of the show, leaving everyone else in the theater somewhat discarded.

When television makes the leap from your living-room to the nearest multiplex, you have to ask yourself: Why? What is communicated on film that couldn’t be via cable? In this case, King doesn’t wisp us away in cinematic glory, rather keeps his camera in television mode. Playing out like several episodes strung together, the movie’s story could’ve been an extra special series finale, complete with all the frivolous dilly-dallying lauded over in the show. Once again we see how television’s inherent (and ill-fated) desire to become film results in a somewhat unsuccessful TV-to-film adaptation.

I did say “somewhat”. Fans of the show will find themselves at home in the familiar conversations about sex and relationships, and loveable kinship between the four women. From the exclusive fan point of view, I suppose this film offers up yet another chance to revel in the magic that made the show work—the movie opportunity Sex and the City fans were waiting for that has now finally arrived. Perhaps I’m just sour (and jealous) that this wasn’t a Deadwood movie. But still, at its center is essentially a four-tiered love story, and I’m a sap for romance. While Samantha and Charlotte’s story arcs seem strung along from the show, I was involved in the burgeoning and dwindling romances of Carrie and Miranda, which when taken on their own are simple enough to bring me close to tears. It’s all the fluff adorning those stories that got in the way.

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