Whenever you bring a popular TV series to the big screen, you always face one inevitable difficulty -- will this material play outside the already dedicated fanbase? Does familiarity breed financial rewards, or does the concept's proverbial companion "contempt" expose the limited interests involved. This is the dilemma that faces the four-years-in-the-making Sex and the City: The Movie. While writer/director Michael Patrick King is no longer simply playing to the feverish fanatics who made the series a pay cable success, he does nothing to broaden the scope -- or potential appeal -- of this bit of now tired pseudo-Cinderella shallowness.
As columnist/author Carrie Bradshaw (Sarah Jessica Parker) prepares to move in with her longtime beau Mr. Big (Chris Noth), her three fabulous friends are facing their own unique issues. Samantha (Kim Cattrall), after five years in California with her soap actor boy toy (Jason Lewis), is getting antsy for her old stomping grounds... and sexual ways. Miranda's (Cynthia Nixon) husband Steve (David Eigenberg) has been feeling unloved, and his actions drive a wedge in their marriage. And Charlotte (Kristin Davis) loves being a wife and mother. When a suddenly-planned wedding goes awry, Carrie hires Manhattan newbie Louise (Jennifer Hudson) to help sort out her life. Turns out, it's harder to find love than any one of these modern gals previously imagined.
Sex and the City, both the show and this new celluloid sampling, has always been a much lazier Absolutely Fabulous minus the wit and the wicked social commentary. It's all proto-female wish fulfillment turned into an anti-male, post-Cosmo cult. The TV show offers life as a series of sexual encounters (without consequence), easily accessible cupidity, and more unrealistic fashion statements than a copy of Sassybella. If it wasn't so popular, people would be protesting it, grassroots campaigns calling for answers for the many mindless mixed messages it sends. The 155-minute movie version is no clearer, an equally unfathomable combination of suds and snark that can't quite figure out if it's a tearjerker, a knee slapper, or an incredibly cynical slam at all women, everywhere.
Here's arguing for the lattermost. In our supposedly successful writer, Carry Bradshaw offers up a portrait of interpersonal selfishness that's hard to grasp. She doesn't act like a 40 year-old. Instead, her mind seems stuck in that horribly unattractive phase of middle school "me, me, me," when every adolescent imagines the universe conspiring against them to hinder their entitled bliss. The decisions she makes, and the rationale she uses to excuse them, sound like diary entries, not dramatic motivations. As played by the skeletal Sarah Jessica Parker, we witness the most unattractive traits ever foisted (unfairly) on a gender. Of course, $500 shoes can soothe even the most fractured psyche.
Her castmates are equally problematic. There's no doubting that Cynthia Nixon's Miranda is a mess, but do we have to be reminded of her harried professional status every 30 seconds? Kristin Davis' Charlotte is a cipher, rendered inert by her fairytale life and equally grim outlook. Of course, she's made even more insufferable by that age old Hollywood balm -- biology. Yet the most unlikely icon remains Kim Cattrall's Samantha. No matter how you reference it -- free-spirited business woman, open-minded cougar -- she's a 50 year old whore who would be derided by feminists if she were a guy. Imagine, a subplot centered on a sexually-unhinged himbo who can't settle down and commit to one partner because he's too focused on himself and his below-the-belt needs. One can just hear the harangue.
Still, Sex and the City wears its obvious purpose on every overpriced designer sleeve featured. Clearly, the cast felt cheated by HBO's residual policy, and pledged to milk this mindless excess for all the paychecks they could collect. The supporting players, included Noth, Eigenberg, and Lewis, are left holding pointless conversations with symbols who only champion their own ill-advised grrrl power. Fans will definitely froth over the chance to see these TV pals parading around the streets of the Big Apple once again. Outside that demo, this will resonate as ridiculous and regressive.
Aka Sex and the City: The Movie.
They're paying us what!?