Movie Review: Sex and the City
By Matthew Huntley
June 2, 2008

Sarah Jessica Parker's inability to remember her lines is well documented.

I'm not sure I should be the one reviewing Sex and the City. Not only am I unfamiliar with the HBO series (I've only seen one or two episodes), I'm also not a fan of these characters. That is to say, I don't find them particularly interesting. To me, Carrie, Samantha, Charlotte and Miranda (actually, Miranda may be the lone exception) are self-centered, superficial, chipper and wasteful individuals. It's hard for me to sympathize with them. They only seem to be preoccupied with one thing: themselves. Granted, they're not mean or judgmental, but they prance around New York City in their hedonistic search for love, comfort and happiness. They're not people I care to spend time with.

I know I'm in the minority on this. There are millions of SATC fans out there who adore what these women stand for and what they do, but I am not one of them. My girlfriend suggests my negative review comes as a result of my being male, not to mention each male character in the movie is either looked upon negatively or barely allotted any screen time. I'm willing to accept that theory, but I think my opinion has also been formed by the simple fact this movie lacks an interesting story, three-dimensional characters and a sharp visual style. Maybe it has nothing to do with my being male. It's possible this is just poor filmmaking.

In a lively opening montage, Carrie Bradshaw (Sarah Jessica Parker) brings us up to speed on her love life and those of her three "fabulous" friends - the hyper-sexualized Samantha (Kim Cattrall), now managing her actor-boyfriend in Los Angeles; the cute-faced Charlotte (Kristin Davis), married and raising her adopted child; and Miranda (Cynthia Nixon), married, raising her own child, and trying to balance her demanding job as an attorney.

Over the course of a year, we watch these women deal with their changing lives and relationships, primarily Carrie, who struggles with plans to wed her longtime, on-again/off-again boyfriend, Mr. Big (Chris Noth). The three others deal with various issues pertaining to fidelity, forgiveness, fear and uncertainty, although using these words makes it sound like the movie has more substance than it really does.

For me, the problem with this long, drawn out comedy-drama was being unable to find a story within it that's worth caring about. As someone who's unfamiliar with the show, I never felt like writer-director Michael Patrick King made enough of an effort to appeal it to non-fans of the series. It's not that I couldn't follow it; it's that I didn't care about it. Perhaps if I watched the show regularly, I would, but the movie shouldn't make that a requirement. If The Simpsons Movie could make itself accessible to non-Simpsons fans, surely SATC could too.

The narrative is jumbled and lacks a sound structure. With an exceedingly long 135-minute runtime, it never finds a balance and is unable to give all its characters ample weight, especially the men. They're tossed aside and only appear at the convenience of the screenplay.

Too many scenes seemed written merely to give the characters something to do, especially Charlotte, who's not given much of conflict like the other women. Jennifer Hudson has a small part as Carrie's assistant, but the director admitted he only cast her in the role because she's African-American, thus as a way to open it up to black audiences. I'd like to think she would have been cast because of her talent.

I suppose I could find Sex and the City entertaining and worthy of moviegoers' time and dollars had the characters been compelling and humble, but they're not. Carrie and Samantha, especially, only seem to care about their images. When Mr. Big disappoints Carrie in a big way, she doesn't seem upset because she's hurt but because she's embarrassed, thinking to herself, how is this going to make me look after I've already appeared in Vogue magazine? Later on, as a way to save face, she changes her hair color. What kind of message does this send? Should we disguise ourselves when the going gets tough because of what other people might think?

I know the show prides itself on being about fashion, fancy coffee, trendy gadgets, expensive food and drinks, etc., and I know that many women (and men for that matter) dream of having enough money to buy all this stuff, but I think this a sad reflection of what's wrong with our society. These are just products. Do they really enrich our lives? Or do we buy them as a way to conform and calm our fears so that we're not different from other people?

Even as a comedy and fluffy entertainment, I didn't find Sex and the City funny, witty or fun. It felt like one giant commercial for Starbucks, Apple, Gucci, Louis Vuitton and Mercedes Benz. Yeah, I know, people really do buy this stuff, so it does have an air of authenticity, but the labels call too much attention to themselves and I sensed my movie-going experience being corporatized.

If the movie had only been about Miranda, it would have really taken off (coincidentally, Cynthia Nixon also gives the movie's best performance). Maybe it's because Miranda is the only one looking for something besides the perfect Manhattan apartment, the biggest closet, the sexiest man, the cutest baby clothes. She's looking for things that seem to matter, like trust, commitment, accomplishment. Call me old-fashioned, but shouldn't we all be looking for these things instead of synthetics and image-enhancers?

With the exception of Miranda, I never felt like the women of Sex and the City were real, and maybe they're not meant to be. Maybe the whole Sex and the City concept is meant to be a fairy tale for women who want to live the guilty pleasure lifestyle, who never want to wear the same outfit twice, who always eat at fancy restaurants and have obscene amounts of money to buy everything and anything their little hearts desire. Fine, but I don't care to be a part of it. After all, what, in the end, will all the shopping bags and products from Fifth Avenue bring these women? I hope it's that everlasting happiness they all desire because I don't feel like watching Sex and the City 2.