It's been four years since we last saw Carrie (Sarah Jessica Parker), Samantha (Kim Cattrall), Charlotte (Kristin Davis) and Miranda (Cynthia Nixon) and while some things are still the same, more are decidedly different as the former singletons adjust to real adulthood in "Sex and the City: The Movie."
This film is going to get dumped all over by male film critics. It's already been accused of being too long, not flowing well, being episodic, like five of the show's episodes tacked together. I can understand some basic criticisms of the show itself - the self-centered, shallow and uber-materialistic nature of its four main characters - but not the structure of its big screen edition. "Sex and the City: The Movie" flows with the seasons - Halloween, Christmas, New Year's, New York Fashion Week - you know, all the truly important holidays - and if the BIG misunderstanding at its central core seems like taking advantage of a romcom cliche one more time, it allows for other themes to bounce off and subtext within the friends' relationships. In short, if you're a fan of the series the film will satisfy.
If you haven't ever seen the series, each episode began with Carrie's voiceover on the topic of what she was writing for that week's newspaper column. The movie uses the device as a catch-up, with Carrie observing how her and her three best friends' lives provided most of the subject matter for the three books she has since published. Series highlights (such as Samantha's run in with 'funky spunk') play out amidst the opening credit graphics accompanied by the more muscular movie version of the HBO theme music.
"The Movie" begins as Carrie is contemplating moving in with long time love Big (Chris Noth), Miranda is frazzling under work/childcare/mother-in-law stresses, Charlotte is blissing in life with hubbie Harry (Evan Handler) and adopted daughter Lily and Samantha is managing lover Smith's (Jason Lewis) career in L.A., visiting New York whenever life allows. Friendship, fortydom and forgiveness will be the themes here, with three of the four relationships given serious tests. There is also a new character, Louise (Jennifer Hudson, "Chicago"), who becomes Carrie's assistant while also representing the younger generation (an extravagantly turned out twentysomething foursome admire Carrie's dress on a New York City street right at film's opening in homage to the women as they once were).
The film features three glorious montages, and yes, two of them are wardrobe changes, but when done as well as they are here, they transcend cliche. Vogue editor Enid Frick (Candice Bergen, TV's "Murphy Brown") asks Carrie to represent the forty decade for a wedding couture issue and it is a truly Vogue worthy spread. Samantha, Miranda and Charlotte guzzle champagne as Carrie models her old wardrobe in a moving triage (the show's signature tutu is the only unanimous keeper). An Auld Lang Syne holiday sequence flits among the lead and supporting characters as Carrie races to Miranda just before midnight on New Year's Eve and it's both melancholy and hopeful. Writer/director Michael Patrick King (writer/director/executive producer of HBO's "Sex and the City") hits the emotional notes while also loading up the girls' dialogue with the one-line zingers the show was known for. Louise gets her own riff with her hometown of St. Louis and a love of Louis Vuitton.
The four lead actresses are better than ever. Jessica Parker is an older soul, Cynthia Nixon less able to hold her uglier tendencies in check. Cattrall lets age smooth out Samantha without losing any of her force and is highly amusing as her 'male' oriented character ogles a nude Adonis (Dante, actually) in a soapy, outdoor shower. Most surprising is Kristin Davis, exhibiting a ferocity in her loyalties we've not seen from her before. Support is less consistent with Jason Lewis disappointingly dispassionate and Hudson perhaps a might too confident for a New York newcomer, but David Eigenberg is great as Miranda's husband Steve (he melts his snappy wife with some humor and cappuccino foam and just exudes understanding compassion) and Noth seems just the right amount of more settled in. Mario Cantone gets good mileage out of wedding planner Anthony Marentino (arranging bride Carrie into a limo is like 'stuffing a creampuff through a keyhole') but First Gay Friend Stanford Blatch, played by Willie Garson, is given extremely short shrift, as is Lynn Cohen's Magda.
Production design is revved up as our girls have even more disposable income and Costume designer Patricia Field, the 'fifth Beatle' as it were, has outdone herself. A Vivienne Westwood gown and a pair of Manholo's are symbolically woven into the plot's emotional arc.
For all the designer clothes, five star resorts and expensive cocktails on display King wisely closes the film somewhat ironically in a move that shows his girls' maturity - no designer duds and breakfast in a New York diner - but friends - and shoes - are what is really important in life.
Robin did not see this film.
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