Sex and the City - 2 stars

I tried to see Sex and the City on Friday night. I suspect that would have been the right way to see it; certainly the theatre was packed that night, given that I was unable to find parking in the humongous lot. I gave up and returned home instead, bitter and a bit annoyed that I wouldn't be able to write up my review right away. Instead, I only got to read about the experience from the other straight male reviewers - the fashion-related gasping, the excitement at plot twists, and so forth - rather than participating in what was clearly The Girl Movie Event of the last decade or so.

Instead, I waited until Sunday to see the movie. It was less of an Event then, but still, it was an event. The audience was packed, and you could see the groups of women everywhere, psyched to be there with friends and/or coerced significant others[1]. So the atmosphere was still there, it just wasn't as strong.

All that said, I think my review is still acceptable.

The movie picks up a few years after the show left off[2]. Carrie is still together with Big, and is clearly even better off than she was when she started (how'd she afford to buy her apartment, again?). Charlotte is married to Harry with her adopted Chinese daughter. Miranda is living in Brooklyn with Steve and their son. And Samantha is living in LA with Smith. (All of this is actually fairly amazing; there have been no major changes in three years? But I digress.) Given that situation... well, Season Seven begins! Wacky hijinx ensure, relationships are put to the test, and things change week-to-week as things are torn asunder, put back together, and occasionally replaced entirely.

Well, that's what the television show would have looked like anyway.

The single biggest problem that this movie faced was that the original television show was episodic. Not everything would get solved every episode, but there would be an ending, a resolution if not a solution. There was always an A-plot, a B-plot, and a pair of C-plots - one plot for each of the four girls. And the show was built around the drama, and the comedy potential, of the half-hour format. It was by necessity both fast-paced and spread out. And that worked.

This time, we got two-and-a-half hours of content - five episodes, give or take. The episodes were there - The Apartment, The Engagement, The Wedding, etc. The four plots were there, too - Carrie-And-Big Drama (A), Miranda Adapts (B), and the two minor Cs. But instead of having to fit, they just plain made a romantic comedy - from the girl's side, yes - and ran with it. The amount of comedy was probably about the same as a single half-hour episode before.

Charlotte didn't get a plot. Samantha's plot was given a short shrift, and would have been best wrapped up in the first twenty minutes and something new tossed in. Miranda was a bloody idiot over and over again. Carrie, well, at least she got a plot and most of a season worth of material.

There were good parts. The new girl - Louise, Carrie's new Personal Assistant (how can she afford an assistant, exactly?) - was by far the highlight of the movie, at least for the first half of her screen time. There were definite moments where the show shone through, and those parts I liked. Big was, remarkably, not a dumb-ass.

But I still can't get over how few funny parts there were. And how little nudity - wasn't that the point of it being from HBO? Kim Cattrall was never naked[3], for Gods' sakes! Hell, she was hardly in it at all...

I understand why movies change the formula of the shows that preceded them - you want something bigger, longer, and more memorable than your average episode, after all. Changing the formula is generally important; but it's also dangerous, and leads to mis-steps more often than success. In this case, though, it led to amongst the most dangerous territories: mediocrity.

** (out of 4)

  1. I was the only straight single man in the theatre, to the best of my knowledge. I may have been the only single man in the audience, for that matter; even the clearly-gay guys came in groups.

  2. Yes, I know how the show ended. Not only did I like the show[4], but it's been an important part of several years of my life. My biggest regret with this movie was that I was unable to see it with any of my friends.

  3. Alright, she was naked-ish, by any reasonable definition. But her nipples were covered, and that's some sort of Hollywood line. We did get Miranda naked, and Charlotte naked-ish as well. And they showed a penis.

  4. No, really, it was a good show and I enjoyed it. I'm surprised more guys didn't like it.