Can it possibly live up to our expectations?
Anyone who knows me knows that I am -- or was in the day -- a huge Sex and the City fan. I have watched every episode, crowded around the TV on Sunday nights with a group of my best friends. I own most of the DVDs (and VHS, oh how the years have changed). And yes, my dog is even named Mr. Big.
So you can imagine that I was more than a little excited to hear that they had finally mended all the rifts and gotten it together to get the movie off the ground -- almost as excited as I was when the day came to actually watch it. As the credits rolled, my friend and I bounced around in our seats to the souped-up new millennial version of the theme song, nearly unable to contain ourselves.
Sex and the City: The Movie opens with a little recap over the credits, smartly integrating a couple of the favorite clips from the TV show to get new viewers up to speed, and refresh the memories of even the most dedicated legacy fans. It's been four years, and Big and Carrie are condo-hunting in Manhattan, prompting Carrie to wonder: Will they ever get married? Meanwhile, Miranda and Steve are having some marital trouble in Brooklyn, Samantha isn't sure she can ever be a one-man woman in Hollywood, and Charlotte, well, Charlotte's pretty happy.
Sex and the City basically attempts to pick up where the show left off, but as much as it pains me to say it, in the past four years the bloom apparently has fallen off the rose. And the thing is, I'm not exactly sure why. It's not that I've tired of the characters; I haven't. Like old friends, Carrie Bradshaw (Sarah Jessica Parker), Samantha Jones (Kim Cattrall), Miranda Hobbes (Cynthia Nixon), and Charlotte York (Kristin Davis) are every bit as appealing to spend time with as they always were.
The thing is, because SATCwas written and directed by Michael Patrick King, the writer/director/producer/force behind the series, I figured that SATC would essentially be an extended version of one of the episodes. To me, that was the logical expectation. But unfortunately, it just wasn't. One of the things that made the series so special was the smartness of its writing and the refreshing honesty of its tone. That's why, for me, it works wholeheartedly in its HBO version and fails miserably in its edited TBS counterpart. It worked not just because it spoke to an underserved audience of women, but because it treated us like adults. Its snarky, crass language, its nudity, and indeed the very subject matter itself not only reflected real life (in an albeit glamorous and funny way), but said, 'Yes, you can handle seeing this, funky spunk and all.'
And that, unfortunately, is just what the movie is missing. The girls are all there, the guys are all there, there's an occasional smart joke sprinkled throughout, but by and large SATC gives us a softened, censored, diluted version of itself. They try to distract you with a boob shot here and even a spot of full-frontal male there, but it can't cover the fact that the witty dialogue is just lacking. I'm not sure if King had more constraints when writing for a movie audience, trying to get things past a studio and the MPAA than for a pay-cable outlet, but whatever the reason the results were lackluster.
As for the plot, I will spare you any spoiler details, but let me just say that it is not without its problems, either. Most SATC episodes were fairly equally divided amongst the four girls, but this time it is Carrie Carrie Carrie all the way. Charlotte, Miranda, and Samantha are reduced to barely-there subplots, supporting players in the Carrie story, which unfortunately isn't fleshed out well enough by any means to carry nearly 2 1/2 hours of movie. Old favorites like Stanford Blatch (Willie Garson) and Magda (Lynn Cohen) are trotted out for a second, but there's barely any reason. Jennifer Hudson joins the cast as Carrie's new assistant, Louise, and she's fine, but doesn't add particularly much. It just winds up feeling like a bloated, amorphous mess that leaves you wondering if King could write so superbly for a half-hour on television, what is it about transferring it to film that is so tricky?
In short, I went in rooting for SATC with everything I had, and it left me a bit disappointed. But perhaps that's because the TV show had set the bar so very high. And the thing is, after all, don't they say that sex is like pizza? Bad Sex, good Sex, it's still Sex.