Four years after the cultural phenomenon that was Sex and the City went off the air, the girlfriends are back, this time on the big screen. With shoes and high fashion and lusty relationships at stake, can producers Sarah Jessica Parker and Michael Patrick King recapture the magic?
Picking up four years after the show's finale, the story begins with our heroines all settling into their daily grooves. Carrie Bradshaw (Sarah Jessica Parker) is finally happy in a long-term relationship with her once off-again-off-again beau, Mr. Big (Chris Noth). She's a best-selling author and a contributor at Vogue. Meanwhile, Samantha Jones (Kim Cattrall) has moved to Los Angeles to manage her boyfriend's (Jason Lewis) booming TV career. Charlotte (Kristin Davis) is in domestic bliss with husband Harry (Evan Handler) and adopted daughter Lily (Alexandra and Parker Fong). Miranda (Cynthia Nixon), however, is having problems juggling between her career (as a lawyer), motherhood, her marriage to Steve (David Eigenberg) while taking care of his mother who's suffering from Alzheimer's.
While things are going strong, Carrie can't help but feel a bit insecure about Mr. Big, given their turbulent history. But things get better when Mr. Big finally asks her if she wants to get married. Of course, she says yes. Charlotte goes into a frenzy planning Carrie's wedding, and things get bigger and more glamourous. It's a dream come true for Carrie.
And then, Miranda receives some bad news that changes her outlook, making her feel defeated. Then more things happen (I won't give out spoilers here) and everyone becomes really sad. Meanwhile, Samantha is feeling restless in her relationship; and the hot stud next door isn't helping either. Charlotte discovers that she's pregnant, but she's so afraid that something bad is going to happen to her perfect life.
Sarah Jessica Parker (Smart People) has said Carrie Bradshaw is a role of a lifetime for her. It's probably true. It remains one of her most memorable performances. Carrie is the ultimate material girl, what with her Manolo shoes and Louis Vitton handbags. But Parker also reveals deep layers of Carrie's emotional life. Carrie the writer is a perpetual philosopher. She muses over love, pain, disappointments, and forgiveness while she herself can't seem to see through the veil. Parker has done some good movies such as Smart People and the Family Stone and some not so good ones (Failure to Launch) but Carrie Bradshaw remains her signature performance.
Kim Cattrall (Ice Princess) has the showiest role in the series as well as the movie. Her cougar is sexy, fun, and always full of life. She's definitely the SEX in Sex and the City. However, her character arc in the film seems to be inconsistent and superficial. I have a feeling that the writers don't really know what to do with her well-defined character. Kristin Davis (Deck the Halls) doesn't really have much to do here. Her story arc is the most stagnant (simply because she's happy, devoid of any drama). Cynthia Nixon (One Last Thing) has the meatiest role next to Parker, and she delivers. Her story arc is the most layered and human, and she's a such as good actress. Jennifer Hudson (Dreamgirls) is a new addition -- she's adequate in her underwritten role.
The men are functional in such an estrogen-laden film. Chris Noth (The Perfect Man) is obviously the top gun here. Mr. Big is charming, dashing, sophisticated, rich, and seemingly emotionally reserved -- no wonder he's every woman's Prince Charming. David Eigenberg (Raines) is also very good as Steve, Miranda's troubled husband. Even Handler (Californication), like his onscreen wife, doesn't have much to do.
Written by Sex's alum Michael Patrick King, the script is tight and crisp. Since he has to tell the stories of four different women, it doesn't leave him a lot of room for anything else. Even at 148 minutes, the film feels short -- it's as if they try to cram a four-hour-long episode into a 2-hour-30-minute movie. The dialogue, however, is witty, funny, and sharp, much like in the show. The observations about relationships are also spot on. There are certain cliches -- it's chick lit, after all -- and the high fashion and parade of shoes can be intimidating (especially to a guy like me).
By and large, however, King keeps the story and characters real. It's not some high fantasy or fairytale set in the Big Apple. Yes, the plot is actually rather predictable, but at the same time, how the characters act and react to situations feels authentic -- except for Samantha. I feel that her arc is forced, and it seems that King has run of options for her.
Glitzy, well-produced and fast-paced, the film does feel like a long TV episode. Personally I think it will play better on TV than in theater. As I said before, I think the story deserves a four-hour treatment. The peripheral characters as well as the men didn't get enough screen time. And the women deserve their own longer arcs. That said, the film certainly lives up to the hype and expectations, and should please the fans (mostly women and the occasional men) who are craving for sex. And love.
Stars: Sarah Jessica Parker, Kim Cattrall, Kristin Davis, Cythia Nixon, Chris Noth, Candice Bergen, Jennifer Hudson, David Eigenberg, Evan Handler
Director: Michael Patrick King
Writer: Michael Patrick King
Distributor: New Line
MPAA Rating: R for strong sexual content and graphic nudity
Running Time: 148 Minutes
Script – 7
Performance – 8
Direction – 7
Cinematography – 8
Editing – 7
Production – 8
Total – 7.5 out of 10