At the beginning of Sex and the City, the movie version of the popular HBO (not TV) series, nothing has changed for Carrie, Charlotte, Miranda and Samantha, the foursome who took Manolo Blahnik off the map and into the stratosphere of exclusivity.
The gals are often still prone to talking dirty. They're also often supine, although perhaps not as often. Charlotte (Kristin Davis) and Miranda (Cynthia Nixon) are each married with children, and Samantha (Kim Cattrall) is in a five-year relationship with studly younger Smith (Jason Lewis), whose modeling/"acting" career she manages in Los Angeles.
Their leader, Carrie Bradshaw (Sarah Jessica Parker), is looking and looking and looking for a suitable place to share with Big, né John James Preston (Chris Noth). They finally find a penthouse so perfectly fabulous that all it lacks is a closet big enough for Carrie's wardrobe (so Big builds it for her). Then, one day while they're fixing dinner, Carrie brings up marriage. And Big, coolly of course, says sure, why not?
He must not watch a lot of television. It will surprise no one, except Carrie, that on the day of their elaborate nuptials, Big suddenly gets small. It's really just for a moment, but it precipitates an over-reaction in Carrie that leads to -- well, another hour-and-a-half of movie that's not half as good as the hour before it.
At its best, Sex and the City is funny and touching, just like the TV series, and pleasingly familiar to its fans (the opening title sequence quickly recaps the show's plotlines). At its worst, it's five episodes strung together, like a holiday-weekend "marathon." Lacking fresh insight, writer/director Michael Patrick King, who co-created the series, settles for revamped versions of the old ones. My favorite: "Forty is the last age at which a girl can be photographed in a wedding gown without the unintended Diane Arbus subtext." King can still zing, although the movie's length taxes his creativity. His ending is affirmingly pro-middle-age, especially toward Samantha, who turns 50.
Sex and the City takes us all over the greatest town in the world, and King uses his color palate well. This includes the creation of Carrie's new assistant (Jennifer Hudson), an earthy St. Louis gal who came to New York looking for love. The marriage of take-no-prisoners Miranda hits a rough spot when she loses interest in sex and her husband regretfully strays (she takes no blame, of course), and the bubbly barren Charlotte, raising an adopted Chinese daughter, gets pregnant.
The acting is uniformly strong, and each supporting star has a moment or two. Parker, of course, gets many more. She runs the gamut beautifully, and Noth, so often without charm or depth as Big on TV, finally gives us reason to see why Carrie loves him. So what if we still don't understand their relationship or know how it "works"? At last, the love of her life seems human.
- Girls just want to buy clothes: (from left) Kristin Davis, Cynthia Nixon, Kim Cattrall and Sarah Jessica Parker