Sex and the City: The Movie (2008) dir. Michael Patrick King
Starring: Sarah Jessica Parker, Kim Cattrall, Kristin Davis, Cynthia Nixon
At 2 hours and 31 mins, “Sex and the City: The Movie” has to be the “Godfather” of chick flicks. I was astonished to read this running time on the back of the DVD box. Can a fluffy summer popcorn film based on a half-hour TV show sustain such length?
“Sex and the City” is not a stand alone film, and doesn’t even pretend to be. Trying to watch the film impartially without the context of the TV series is like watching or reviewing “Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith” without seeing the 5 other films. The film tries really really hard to satisfy its core audience and no one else. Other cynics and haters be damned – this film is not for you.
When we last saw these four gals, Carrie Bradshaw (Ms. Parker) had just gotten back together with her on again off again boyfriend ‘Big’; Samantha Jones (Ms. Cattrall) the devoted bachelorette was comfortable in a long term relationship with her model boyfriend Smith; Charlotte (Ms. Davis) was happily married and is now mother to a newly adopted Chinese infant; Miranda (Ms. Nixon) was also married, a mother and happily living in once-dreaded Brooklyn. The film joins in at the point of Carrie and Big deciding to get married. The small wedding turns into a big wedding, which scares off the third-time groom Big. When he hesitates and stands his bride up on the day of the wedding Carrie goes into a lengthy depression, questioning everything she thought she knew about love.
The other gals each have their personal conflicts. Samantha starts having second thoughts about her relationship with Smith, who she now lives with in L.A. Miranda’s hubby Steve cheats on Miranda, which send her into a tailspin as well. Charlotte is conflict-free but becomes the rock of support for all the girls in these uncertain times.
I had my doubts at the beginning. The first 50mins slogs along, and feels like a pajama party put on screen. Writer/director King appears to get out of the way early all the fashion product placement which the audience expects to see. There’s three lengthy sequences in this first 50mins devoted solely to it’s costume changes. The opening scenes feature five or six changes layered beneath Carrie introductory voiceover. There’s a Vogue photoshoot where we see Carrie model a number of wedding dresses from various couture designers, and a painful 80’s wardrobe dress-up sequence, which in the extended cut version lasts twice as long as it should. In addition we're subject to the same repetitive jokes about the characters - we get it, Samantha loves sex. It's tedious, but it's what the audience wants.
At the 50mins mark the film finally starts. The wedding scene is directed and performed with real authenticity and jumpstarts Carrie’s character and the film. Carrie’s wedding day confrontation with Big on the one-way street features a shocking release of anger from Carrie. The respective subplots of the other gals don’t truly broaden the personalities of the characters more than we saw in the TV series, but their personal morals are all put to the test in satisfactory and truthful ways.
What separates this movie from say, 4 equivalent TV episodes strung together? There actually isn’t much, but that in no way detracts from the entertainment of watching the four familiar friends chat, wear expensive cloths, tour NYC, have sex, break-up, and make-up. “Sex and the City” is easy to hate and easy to love. Take your pick.
"Sex and the City" is available on DVD from Alliance Films in Canada and New Line in the U.S.