Kevin's Review: Sex and the City - Less Sex, More Drama
by Kevin Powers
May 30, 2008
More than four years after Carrie, Miranda, Charlotte and Samantha downed their last cosmo and faded into the history of successful HBO series, comes the eagerly awaited big-screen adaptation that for many will be the movie event of the year. Fans of the show will gorge themselves on two-and-half hours of designers, drama, drinks and divas, while newcomers will discover a chick flick that makes relatives of the genre seem positively masculine. Despite fashion and couture to the contrary, Sex and the City is really only about one label, love, and all the imperfections and textures that accompany this sought-after garment. Guys, proceed to hurl. Girls, proceed to swoon.
In the process, writer-director Michael Patrick King subdues some of the more fun, bawdy aspects of the series - particularly many of Samantha's antics - in favor of all manner of mini-dramas. The film opts for more of a missionary position, which is to say it's less exciting and adventurous than the original series. Because of the increased scale, tweaking the "Sex and the City" TV show formula isn't a total surprise and actually results in an exhausting yet potently entertaining look at modern-day relationships.
The runtime might seem long, but the film covers just about a year's worth of happenings. The movie begins where the TV series left off with Carrie (Sarah Jessica Parker) back together with Big (Chris Noth), Miranda (Cynthia Nixon) and Steve (David Eigenberg) in Brooklyn, Charlotte (Kristin Davis) and Harry (Evan Handler) with their newly adopted Asian daughter, and Samantha (Kim Cattrall) and Smith (Jason Lewis) out in LA tending to the pretty-boy's career. A whimsical little recap at the beginning of the film gets you up to speed, while indoctrinating newbies. New to the foursome is Louis (Jennifer Hudson), who is conspicuous both in her in appearance and in her targeted, jarring service to the plot.
From there it's a hilly ride of highs and lows as the movie progresses through one discrete drama after another. Surprisingly, this rhythm parallels that of the TV series. It actually feels like five episodes crammed into one sitting as a opposed to one that is stretched extremely thin. Die hard fans will enjoy this familiarity, while others might find it frustrating and repetitive.
And repetitive it can be. Just as the clouds seem to break over a particular subject, there comes another thunderstorm of trial and emotion. The film manages to include an impressive number of events that surround adult love and relationships - marriage, pregnancy, break-ups, children, infidelity. Aside from the blinding lack of concern for money, Sex and the City is a nicely pragmatic and entertaining look at these little curve-balls.
Notably, the movie does little to tarnish the legacy of the series. Sure, the film feels different. For instance, there is an entire new layer of accessory sound effects and musical atmosphere that was never present on TV. It's easy enough to give these things a pass. Given that four years have elapsed, the experience can be likened to being reunited with an old friend - things are bound to be different, but you eventually settle in and find that comfortable spot again.
While Sex and the City is certainly accessible to the uninitiated - it's a perfectly fine, albeit long romantic comedy - it's plain knowledge that the film was made for and because of the fans. Sex and the City will be a huge success because it's not just a movie, it's an event. Gaggles of girlfriends will gather for cosmos or manhattans beforehand and jaunt drunkenly off to the theater to watch characters that they've come to love and identify with over six years of episodes. And since everyone's a bit older and a bit more mature, it should come as no surprise that this time around there's a bit less sex and a bit more drama.