Sarah Jessica Parker, Kim Cattrall, Kristin Davis, Cynthia Nixon, Chris Noth, Jennifer Hudson
WRITTEN AND DIRECTED BY
Michael Patrick King
"Sex and the City," the cinematic follow-up to the highly successful television starring Sarah Jessica Parker as Carrie Bradshaw, New York's resident love-seeking, sex-adoring and fashion-obsessed girl-next-door, had all the makings of a really scathing review. Joined at the hips with her longtime friends Miranda (Cynthia Nixon), Samantha (Kim Cattrall) and Charlotte (Kristin Davis), the "Sex and the City" movie picks up where the series left off with the stories of the women and their dilemmas in love, life and, of course, sex.
The truth is I never much cared for "Sex and the City" the series...None of the women really ever struck me as a true "girl-next-door" type, with the possible exception of the impossibly beautiful and sweet Kristin Davis's Charlotte.
Having never lived in New York City, I sure couldn't testify to the accuracy of the series. All I could say is "If this is a New York City girl, then I'll stick with my Indiana women."
Then, there are the actresses.
Okay, Okay. They made a name for themselves with this series BUT how many positive cinematic experiences have you really had with Kim Cattrall?
Okay. Name one where she kept her clothes on.
See what I mean?
And, sure, we all love Sarah Jessica Parker. But, really. Need I remind you of her long line of cinematic flops...most of which fall in the arena lighter, romantic style comedies?
"Failure to Launch," anyone?
I was grumpy, too.
There was an over 90-minute wait just to get into the movie theatre, an exclusive premiere that beamed in live footage from the simultaneous New York City premiere.
Considering the start time was an already late 8:30 pm, let's just say it was a very long evening before the movie even started.
It would be worth it all, I reasoned, for the delightfully funny cinematic skewering I would create after the screening.
The funny thing is I was right. It really WAS worth it.
"Sex and the City" is a great movie.
My jaw is still dropped as I contemplate what just happened after spending nearly 2 1/2 hours with Carrie, her girls and their men.
I laughed. No, seriously...hearty, deeply felt laughs.
I even shed a couple of tears.
Mostly, I couldn't take my eyes off the screen despite the film's running at least 30 minutes too long.
Sarah Jessica Parker, so brilliant in this year's dark comedy "Smart People," hits it again with her big screen adaptation of the small screen role that made her an A-lister once again.
Always a unique blend of intelligence, sensitivity, sexuality and base human comedy, "Sex and the City" is easily the most successful and entertaining woman-centered, sorry I refuse to say "chick flick" for a film this good, since "Waiting to Exhale."
If guys are being honest, and we seldom are, we are desperately jealous of the kind of friendship that exists between Carrie, Miranda, Samantha and Charlotte.
Of course, I realize there are exceptions. I'm not even convinced it's a "gender" thing, though I do think such a depth of friendship and intimacy comes more naturally, more often for women.
It is this friendship that is at the core of "Sex and the City" and the essential ingredient that makes this film work so beautifully.
If you are a "Sex and the City" fan from way back, you will be enthralled by by Carrie and her on-again, off-again relationship with Mr. Big (Chris Noth). What could have easily become caricaturish on the big screen is instead vividly brought to life by Parker and Noth. Parker's scenes, especially, after yet another disappointment are particularly impactful because of how much she underplays them. Over the top much of the time, Parker allows Carrie to plummet to the bottom with a vulnerability she hasn't shown on screen in years.
While Carrie and Mr. Big are easily the film's focus, "Sex and the City" faithfully gives plenty of spotlight time, perhaps a bit too much, to each of its stars.
As we know, Charlotte is blessed with the impossibly perfect marriage to Harry (Evan Handler) with their adopted daughter, Lily (played by twins Alexandra and Parker Fong). We also know that, because this is "Sex and the City," even Charlotte won't be able to avoid her self-doubts and fears...especially when she gets a very unexpected surprise.
Then, there's Samantha and her acting boy toy Jerry Jerrod (Jason Lewis). He's sexy, sweet and loving. Is he right for her?
Oh, and we mustn't forget Miranda and her sweet Steve (David Eigenberg). In a storyline driven by betrayal, intimacy, trust and forgiveness, it is Miranda and Steve's relationship that provides a nice balance to Carrie and Mr. Big and, as well, many of the film's bigger lessons.
Intelligently and sensitively written and directed for the big screen by Michael Patrick King, who did the same for quite of few of the series' episodes, "Sex and the City" is the perfect example of how to adapt a television series for the big screen.
First, you maintain the core ingredients as faithfully as possible...the cast, the writers and the basic storyline.
Secondly, you remain faithful to the spirit of the television series.
Thirdly, you take those small screen stories and you broaden them. In other words, you allow the characters and their stories to blossom.
You have the perfect television adaptation for the big screen assuming, of course, that you actually do have a talented cast, skilled director, a strong script and solid tech credits.
Again, "Sex and the City" has it all.
Is "Sex and the City" perfect?
Have I already mentioned that it runs 2 1/2 hours?
I thought so. While the characters held my attention, Samantha's boytoy storyline could have easily been trimmed a bit as at least a couple of her interactions with her boytoy had no significance in the film.
Then, there's the Jennifer Hudson dilemma. A newcomer to the "Sex ahd the City" world, the Oscar-winning Hudson plays Louise, an assistant Carrie hires post-disappointment to help her organize her world. Hudson's storyline feels underwritten and while there's nothing particularly wrong with her performance, it feels a bit out of balance with the rest of the cast. It was an unnecessary distraction to an already long film, OR it actually needed to be developed a bit more to allow her to come to life.
Modest quibbles aside, "Sex and the City" is one of the most richly felt, intelligently written and delightfully human films to get a wide release in years. Faithful to the television series, "Sex and the City" allows Carrie, Miranda, Charlotte and Samantha to blossom with their unwavering loyalty to one another and their individual and collective searches for love, success and sex.
© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic