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TV/ Movies, Movies/ TV ... There was a time where the two were wholly and utterly exclusive. Movie stars didn’t do television shows and TV stars never made the transition to TV. Sometime in the 1980’s and 90’s the lines became blurred as TV shows pulled in more viewers and the power of advertising dollars could not be denied. The TV revolution gave us stars like Tom Hanks, somehow even more popular out of Bosom Buddies drag. Johnny Depp started off as an angsty undercover cop on 21 Jump Street. George Clooney was mostly known for his stint on Roseanne or onscreen running from a Killer Tomato up until ER. Will Smith went from being the Fresh Prince of Bel Air to becoming Legend. However, for every Bill Murray there is a Joe Piscopo who didn’t make the big-screen transition quite as well. Also, the pitiful state of turn-of-the-century Hollywood creativity had nadired, burdening audiences with a pummeling of TV shows that some great studio mind thought would make a great 90 minute (- or longer) feature film. Cringe with me now as we recall McHale’s Navy, The Coneheads, The Avengers, Bewitched and the Dukes of Hazzard. With such dicey prospects, how would the seminal HBO adult comedy, Sex and the City, fare forty feet high before a paying crowd? As it turns out, pretty darn good.

For the uninitiated (- I have trouble believing anyone who’d see this would be) Sex and the City was a weekly portrait of the life of Carrie Bradshaw, a magazine columnist whose thoughts on love and relationships unspooled across her laptop and provided the theme of each episode. We watched as the earnest, romantic Carrie and her three friends, caustic workaholic Miranda, conservative uptight Charlotte, and sexual omnivore Samantha, went through the rigors of finding their significant others or learning how to live without them in the concrete neon jungle of New York City. Each chapter highlighted fashion (- Manolo Blahnik and Jimmy Choo seriously owe this show), nightlife and a vicarious ride in the fast lane of the big city for those who might never make the trip. Sex and the City was a tremendous hit and people everywhere followed each of the ladies’ weekly rollercoaster of relationships. The show won multiple awards and decided to call it a day in 2004, in its sixth season, with all the ladies seemingly finding their mates and Carrie finally winning the heart of her personal Holy Grail, the intriguingly pseudonymed Mr. Big. Did we really need anything more?

Apparently someone thought so, because Sex and the City the movie is a bigger, brighter, shinier, considerably longer episode brought to the big screen. I admit feeling ambivalence at the announcement of the project; I had liked the series just fine and felt like all its ends were satisfactorily tied, so why would I want to pay to see in a cinema what I can now watch twenty times a day on TBS (-  albeit sliced for family-viewing)? I was very pleasantly surprised at what a thoroughly enjoyable time I had watching the reunion of Carrie, Miranda, Charlotte and Samantha. I had forgotten just how easy it was to get caught up in their lives. I had forgotten the show’s wonderful writing that flipped between raucously witty and touchingly poignant when it was least expected. Yes, it’s unnecessary, but the joy of Sex and the City the movie, is that it is eminently entertaining and fun.

Starting off with a montage of scenes from all six TV seasons to introduce each of the characters and bring us all up to date on the story so far, we find Carrie living in blissful sin with her beloved Big. Things are moving along nicely for them and their plan to move in together relocates them to dream penthouse off Central Park. For some reason, they can’t seem to leave well enough alone and as they prepare dinner in Big’s flat, Big, AKA John – so odd to use his real name – matter-of-factly reasons his way into a proposal to Carrie. The prospect of Carrie finally marrying Big/John sends the drums through the jungles and a gathering of the clans, most especially Miranda, mother of young Brady and negligent wife to affectionate, puppy-dog sweet Steve, Charlotte, devoted spouse of Harry and cautious mother of adopted Lily, and even LA-transplant Samantha takes time from managing her discovery/lover Smith’s skyrocketing acting career to attend Carrie on her Big day. The nuptials become a New York social event once Carrie’s editor at Vogue decides to focus a substantial part of their “Age” issue to the wedding under the title, “The Last Single Girl.” As is the power of Vogue, Carrie’s simple vintage shop white suit is lost in the kaleidoscope of couture wedding gowns by Vera Wang, Christian Dior, Carolina Herrera and Vivienne Westwood submitted for Carrie’s fashion shoot. The wedding, moved from a simple City Hall affair to the classic cavernous New York Public Library with 200 guests expected, begins as Carrie’s dream come true, but will her unreliable Prince Charming play along?

It’s all chocolate and champagne this, or more accurately Magnolia cupcakes (- without waiting in the queue) and Cosmpolitans. Sex and the City is a truly delightful froth of a film that has so much winning can-do spirit that you really can’t help but like it. The sprightly powerhouse known as Sarah Jessica Parker hasn’t lost one ounce of perk since her days on the brilliant short-lived Square Pegs and watching her use her walk-in closet as a catwalk for some truly hideous 80’s fashion, complete with cartwheels and Reagan-era dance moves is darling. Though I recall losing patience with Carrie occasionally during the series run, here the character strikes all the right notes and has everyone on her side. Cynthia Nixon brings back the abrasive, often thoughtless Miranda that seemed to have matured as the show went on, but here Nixon plays the frequently smack-worthy lawyer with sympathy and heart. Kristen Davis’ Charlotte was always a bit of mystery to me and I often wondered if Davis was actually any good. Here Charlotte has become the protective Earth Mother in Prada to her friends and while her attempts at drama were a little confusing, Davis exhibits wonderful screwball instincts at some of Charlotte’s hilarious humiliations. As she did on the series, Kim Cattrall’s Samantha (- forget that ‘cougar’ nonsense, she’s a panther!) nearly steals the spotlight in every scene she’s in and those scenes are wisely placed. Being out of her New York haunt shows Samantha off-balance and out of her element while being pulled kicking and screaming into monogamy. While Cattrall digs into all the saltiest dialog with gusto, Samantha’s outrageous slapstick situations are nicely offset with her fierce loyalty to her friends. Each of the characters is shown to wonderful effect and the actresses’ investment in these ladies is patently clear. 

The downside: Yes it’s schmaltzy, yes, it’s a funnier, sexier soap opera with all the cheese therein and the ending wasn’t anything outside of the sitcom school, but I found that utterly forgivable. What wasn’t as easy to pass is the problematic length of the film. Why it had to be nearly two and a half hours long was beyond me, and while most of it whizzes by delightfully, that last half hour was a trial to the backside. The film doesn’t even take place over a full year in Carrie’s life, but it started to feel like twelve months in mine. I do understand the need to show each of the ladies’ stories to some extent, but surely the sequences with Carrie’s soul mate/fairy godmother-assistant could have been pared a bit. Unfortunately, this is yet another movie from the Return of the King School of False Endings, where you think it’s winding down a few different times then just keeps going. 

All the hallmarks of the Sex and the City TV show are here; the ladies dining at trendy restaurants and cute cafés and their hilariously candid conversations about love and sex. Of course there is the wacky, fabulous fashion, the parade of excellent shoes and to-die-for accessories with the wedding dress photo shoot montage as a perfect high point. Still, beyond all of Sex and the City’s fabulosity and glamourous accoutrements, the film focuses on the most important aspect of the series, the chemistry and the relationship between the four friends. That friendship really is at the heart of what made fans love the show and led by Sarah Jessica Parker’s winning, adorable performance, it’s what will bring those fans and non-fans alike into the theatres to see Sex and the City on the big screen.

 

~ The Lady Miz Diva (Mighty Ganesha)

May 29th, 2008

 

 

 

 

© 2006-2017 The Diva Review.com

 

 

Photos

(Courtesy of  New Line Cinema)

 

 

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