Sex and the City | Romantic Comedy | rated R (A,L,N,S) | starring Sarah Jessica Parker, Kim Cattrell, Cynthia Nixon, Kristin Davis, Chris Noth, Jennifer Hudson | written & directed by Michael Patrick King | 2:25 mins
With the prospect of moving in together, New York writer Carrie Bradshaw (Sarah Jessica Parker) and on-again-off-again beau John Big (Chris Noth) decide to tie the not. Branded the last single girl, the wedding becomes a huge event just a her friend Miranda (Cynthia Nixon) learns that her marriage may be falling apart and Samantha (Kim Cattrell) starts loosing her identity now in the role of girlfriend. Is it love or labels that are more important?
There are few uphill arguments like that of being a heterosexual man and trying to explain to people that despite what they may have heard Sex and the City is a great show. Not a good show, a great one. Not just a chick show, but the single best relationship series ever put to TV. A smart, funny, real yet fanciful dissection of all the idiosyncracies of dating, sex and marriage that stood up for the lifestyle of the single gal over 30. It also looked at the most photographed city in the world through fresh eyes, taking us through the trendy corner stores and underground night clubs that made New York hum. And lastly its observations about single life cut across gender lines, but it managed to be a distinct girl show. A celebration of a girl’s potential love of shoes, clothes and hair the same way other TV shows celebrate men and their passion for beer, football, golf and cars. Which is why I’ve always thought the criticism of Sex and the City as materialist was pure sexism.
Now, flashfoward to 2008 with the Sex and the City movie where my hope that finally that level of anti-romantic comedy charm and zest will be a refreshing change of pace for a dying genre on the big screen. And boy, I was wrong. Showrunner, Michael Patrick King has created a Sex movie that is a monstrocity of it’s former self. Where the show stuck up for the single girl, now the single girl is miserable if she isn’t married. Where it delved into New York’s unseen corners, it now whisks off to LA and Mexico. Where it was a fun bubble-gum pop of escapist entertainment, it is now stretched to a bloated 2 and a half hour drama drained of it’s life. Where it’s characters once felt like real women articulating 4 different sides of that week’s topic, they are now shells of their former self. Parodies even. King has stripped the show of everything unique or challenging and turned it into another lazy romantic comedy.
King has one idea here – one: the double entendre between the label of a top designer so desired by the girls on their clothes and the label they assign to themselves and the men in their lives that can end up sophocating both. And it’s a good idea too, one that would work in 30 minutes, just not in the length of 5 shows. And even with all that running time to play with the topic is superficially explored so he can focus more on the drama between the girls.
Thought the women kind of sleep walk through these roles, oddly enough it’s Kristin Davis’ Charlotte York who comes off the best. Davis is given a nothing of a storyline and she steals away two of the movies key scenes: first an outburt in which you can see flames in her eyes and then a perfectly set up confrontation with Big. Still it isn’t a few minutes after Davis’ hit that perfect tone of real rage, King has to embarass Charlotte by trafficing poop jokes into the movie. It’s ghastly.
But that’s not even the biggest problem. The biggest problem is how poorly scripted Sex is. Particularly in a pivitol scene in which Mr. Big decides if he has to bail or can go through with the wedding. The scene is so rushed, filled with assumptions and contrivances that it isn’t convincing. And because of that everything else that follows rings like false melodrama. Many of the conflicts in the movie are like that. Who cares if Samantha has developed a gut or if new character Louise (Jennifer Hudson) finds love in the Big Apple? The stakes are SO low they comes off as selfish things to get bent out of shape over.
File it as a missed opportunity to show the romantic comedy movie what it has been missing. Sex and the City is a dragging, melodramatic, painfully unfunny movie adaptation. Years after the series’ end (which was perfectly fine), King delivers us nothing more than spending time with these women, putting them through break-up-to-make-up motions. It’s a slap in the face to fans that followed these characters for years. Doing an about-face on it’s philosophy it tells women: “all that independence and pride in your single status we promoted in our series – throw it out the window at the prospect of getting married”.