Review: Sex and the City
Martinis, Manolos and Mercedes. Oh my!
By Jason Lee
June 27, 2008
Sex and the City has always been an ironically titled TV show. Yes, the four iconic HBO girls broke boundaries and daintily stepped over prudish cultural taboos by giving us more titillating chatter, scintillating stories and flat out sex than we were used to – even on the new edgy TV frontier that we now call "cable." But once you get over the shock value of your typical SATC episode, you slowly begin to realize that the show (as sentimental and corny as it sounds) is really all about love. It's not always easy and it's not always fun, but it's an undeniable, core motivator in the lives of Carrie, Samantha, Miranda and Charlotte.
Now, let me come clean: I am not an avid Sex and the City viewer. I've maybe caught three or four episodes during the series' syndicated run on TBS but can hardly be called a fan. Though most moviegoers lining up to see the fab foursome on the big screen will likely boast a greater familiarity with the characters and storyline than I did, I am here to assure every boyfriend-that-gets dragged-to-the-theatre and every girlfriend-who's-really-not-a-fan that you'll probably have a really good time anyways. I know I did.
Though the movie debuts approximately four years after the HBO series finished, we find the girls in pretty much the same situation that we left them (or so I've been told). Charlotte is happily married with a newly adopted daughter from China. After giving birth to her son, Brady Hobbes, workaholic Miranda Hobbes is still trying to find a way to ascend the partnership ladder at her law firm. Sexaholic Samantha has settled down in California to play agent for her actor/model/boyfriend Smith Jerrod and our girl Carrie is gradually becoming accustomed to a blissful life with Mr. Big now that he's finally confessed to her that she's "the one."
Planning the wedding that she never thought she'd have with the man who she never thought she'd marry, Carrie wrestles with mounting personal and public tensions with Big as their plans for a modest ceremony spiral into an event worthy of a Vanity Fair photo shoot and mention on the New York Post's "Page 6."
Similar lovelorn challenges by her friends further complicate things, with Samantha finding herself increasingly attracted to her hunky neighbor next door, who audibly sleeps with a different girl or two every night and Miranda coming to the realization that her marriage has entered the sexual deadlands. A blow up with her husband, Steve, leads her to commit an near-unforgivable act that sets the final two hours of the film in motion. Allegiances will be questioned, the nature of love will be debated and through it all, the steadfast friendship shared by all four girls will see them through the thick and the thin.
And boy, does it get thick and holy cow, does it get thin. The sheer amount of drama covered by the film is extraordinary - testimony to the fact that Sex and the City is written and edited in a nearly identical manner to that of the original TV series. In this way, we get a quicker pace and more fluid tone than what we would normally expect on the big screen, allowing the filmmakers to cover a wealth of material in the lives of the Sex and the City gals. What transpires over the film's two and a half hour runtime almost feels a compressed version of what would have taken place during Season 7, had they made one.
Michael Patrick King, who helmed the TV show, returns to play producer, director and writer for this theatrical adaptation and does a commendable job in his first major cinematic undertaking. The movie skips lightly between emotional grief and capitalistic pleasure – free enough to show the girls drowning their sorrows in margaritas at one moment to shopping in Beverly Hills in a Mercedes-Benz GLK at the next. It's a delicate balance and for what it's worth, I thought King handled it masterfully.
The four actresses are also universally strong and seem to have no problem slipping back into their Manhattan personas. I know from a quick perusal of IMDb that Kristin Davis (with her single Emmy nomination) has not received the same sort of industry accolades as co-stars Sarah Jessica Parker (six noms and one win), Cynthia Nixon (three noms and one win), and Kim Catrall (five noms). But for me, she was the standout in this cast. She was luminous and provided both the funniest moment in the movie (during an encounter with Big) and the most heartbreaking moment (in the street in front of the New York public library).
There's little chance for the Oscars to bestow upon this film the kind of grandeur that both the Golden Globes and the Emmys did for the TV series – the film plays too much like a compressed marathon of Sex and the City episodes and even beyond that, it's a comedy for Pete's sake (an inescapably unrewarded film genre at the Oscars). But all the same, it's a great ride.
As Carrie might put it, a good cosmo can be delectable on its own, even without a host of healthy vitamins and nutrients. And sometimes all a film needs is a cast of likeable characters struggling with a set of relationship troubles and traumas that we can all relate to. It's a frothy bit of fun that leaves us feeling buoyant (if not a bit tipsy) afterwards. This may not be the most intellectual of cinematic fare in theatres right now, but you know what? I bet you'll have a good time if you go see it.
Even if it is about something as silly as love.