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‘Sex and the City: The Movie’ a Frilly University For Understanding the Human Condition

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Average: 3.7 (10 votes)

HollywoodChicago.com Oscarman rating: 3.5/5CHICAGO – To its voracious universe of cult-following fans, it feels like a television marathon that spans an entire season. To everyone else who bats an indifferent eye at the religion that is “Sex and the City,” it may surprise you to find that all the glam and glitz has something even for you to learn, too.

Sarah Jessica Parker stars as Carrie Bradshaw in New Line Cinema's Sex and the City: The Movie
Sarah Jessica Parker stars as Carrie Bradshaw in “Sex and the City: The Movie”.
Credit: Craig Blankenhorn, New Line Cinema

The thorniest proposition for “Sex and the City: The Movie,” though, is opening the minds of all the anti-fashionistas (such as yours truly) and those who habitually bottle up their emotions for safekeeping.

After all, “Sex and the City” is often about a word that hurls the masses off in a scurry: feeling. For those who embrace all that is “love and labels,” though, the film begins by succinctly flashing back on plotlines avid followers know all too well.

Season watchers are nearly forced and relatively brainwashed into securing a theater seat, and unfortunately, followers and non-followers alike arrive to the theater with having already been told much too much from the trailer.

Will Carrie marry Big? Will Charlotte – who’s thought to be infertile – have her own baby? What will become of Miranda and the cheating Steve? Will the scurrilous Samantha actually settle down with Smith? Will the predominantly white cast finally paint some color into the picture?

To the last question, Chicago’s Jennifer Hudson (who on the film’s “pink carpet” said she gets bronzed by rubbing on her “Dreamgirls” Oscar) says yes. As for the other questions, the film would have injected even more “what’ll happen next?” revelation by not giving such an initial peek up its own dress.

After initially cursing the all-too-telling trailer, I planted myself in my theater seat prepared for a 142-minute commitment. Not so. At our press screening, we were treated to another 30 minutes of a live satellite feed that counted down to the Chicago screening with the pink-carpet coverage.

Left to right: Kristin Davis as Charlotte York-Goldenblatt, Sarah Jessica Parker as Carrie Bradshaw, Cynthia Nixon as Miranda Hobbes and Kim Cattrall as Samantha Jones in New Line Cinema's Sex and the City: The Movie
Left to right: Kristin Davis as Charlotte York-Goldenblatt, Sarah Jessica Parker as Carrie Bradshaw, Cynthia Nixon as Miranda Hobbes and Kim Cattrall as Samantha Jones in New Line Cinema’s “Sex and the City: The Movie”.
Photo credit: Craig Blankenhorn, New Line Cinema

Combined, the experience even neared the 195 minutes it took Steven Spielberg to give justice to the entire Holocaust in 1993’s “Schindler’s List”. Writer and director Michael Patrick King could have cut nearly 30 minutes of screen time had he met with an editor by the name of No Cheese For Me, Please.

Alas, though, this critic indeed scores “Sex and the City: The Movie” with a relatively positive rating of 3.5 out of 5.0.

Despite the aforementioned relatively trifling gripes, the film indeed gets to the heart of the human matter. In consistently exploring and explicitly discussing what women feel and what men need, the subject matter has a higher purpose.

It’s a purpose that’s to be commended in entertainment today because while it’s still certainly entertainment, everyone – no matter what race, religion, sexual orientation or relationship status – has something to take from these four women and the characters who surround them.

Chris Noth as Mr. Big in New Line Cinema's Sex and the City: The Movie
Chris Noth as Mr. Big in “Sex and the City: The Movie”.
Photo credit: Craig Blankenhorn, New Line Cinema

Of course, the “Sex and the City” style is to offer a carrot in the beginning and then change that story morale into, say, broccoli so we’re left with something to reflect deeply about. The process of delving into a woman’s head – for a man and even another woman – is ultimately a healthy exercise in understanding the human condition.

When women constantly compare themselves to Carrie, Samantha, Charlotte and Miranda, they’re forced to ponder who they really are and who they want to become. Sarah Jessica Parker, Kim Cattrall, Kristin Davis and Cynthia Nixon themselves know most women are a combination of the foursome as a whole.

The film also explores a primary fifth character that – while not credited among the cast – is as large and tangible as any one of them: New York. Director Michael Patrick King has made the claim that this story couldn’t have existed anywhere else. While that’s debatable, what’s fact is that the show has brought some people to New York not only for the American dream but for the romance of falling in lasting love.

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StarView our huge, high-resolution “Sex and the City: The Movie” image gallery.

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Cast as Sarah Jessica Parker’s assistant, Jennifer Hudson has a convincing moment where she expresses exactly that pursuit. But with everyone trying to get hitched, hasn’t this story’s thesis rested squarely on the allure of being a single woman? No longer.

That said, what is it about television and film that hooks us into wondering whether someone will fall in love, break up, get married, have a baby, stop drinking or kick that drug habit?

While these celebrities are people the everyman will never associate with in their lifetimes, they’re actually more like messengers conveying portions of who we really are and hoping we find ways to improve ourselves.

That, at least, should be the point. Michael Patrick King (who also wrote various “Will & Grace,” “Cybill” and “Murphy Brown” episodes) succeeds at dangling that carrot and leaving us with something to chew on.

“Sex and the City: The Movie” opened on May 30, 2008 everywhere.

HollywoodChicago.com editor-in-chief Adam Fendelman

By ADAM FENDELMAN
Editor-in-Chief
HollywoodChicago.com
adam@hollywoodchicago.com

© 2008 Adam Fendelman, HollywoodChicago.com

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HollywoodChicago.com's picture

Exclusive photos of 'Sex and the City' ladies in Chicago

Kevin has submitted to HollywoodChicago.com with permission for us to post the following photos of the “Sex and the City” ladies in Chicago for an “Oprah” show to plug their new film.

Sarah Jessica Parker in Chicago to promote Sex and the City: The Movie

Kim Cattrall in Chicago to promote Sex and the City: The Movie

Kristin Davis in Chicago to promote Sex and the City: The Movie

Cynthia Nixon in Chicago to promote Sex and the City: The Movie

PatrickMcD's picture

An Epic Operatic Emotion Spectacle

As a self-confessed watcher of the TV series “Sex and the City,” I was extremely impressed by Adam’s assessment of “a healthy exercise in understanding the human condition,” because in the end we’re all human and that, to me, is what SaTC stood for all those years ago.

I was at the 4:45 show yesterday. Here is my review…

The film is an absolute treat for long-time watchers of the show. All the familiar characters get significant moments, of course centered around Sarah Jessica Parker’s character, Carrie Bradshaw.

Many of the extensive surprises come early in the long film, and the preliminary job of setting up everything requires some slow pacing in the beginning, but this is a minor complaint within the whole context.

As it moves into the second act, which interestingly enough becomes the “second act” for all of the four galpals, it straps in (watch it) for a journey of the heart, which anyone who has ever tried to navigate in a relationship will relate to.

All of the men have very small supporting roles, but they use their screen time effectively. Chris Noth, as the mysterious Mr. Big, takes advantage of his long association with the character by allowing him to be more open and vulnerable than ever. I related to how he reacted to the burden he puts upon himself, it seemed a natural reaction to real-life dilemma.

David Eisenberg, as Miranda’s put-upon husband Steve, plays with emotion openly, both in raw wound agony and sunny happiness. He has many thankless situations in the screenplay, but handles all with the keen opportunity of a seasoned acting pro.

But SaTC is really about the “Glam Foursome,” and while the fashions and accessories they sport are mind-numbingly materialistic, it fortunately never gets in the way of the emotional substance. Sarah Jessica Parker absof**klutely knows Carrie and does as well with her emotional dread as her affable clotheshorse NYC writer.

The other three all have just great moments to chew on, and follow through on their characters from the TV series succinctly. Kristin Davis as Charlotte, never one of my favorites (too whiny), distinguishes herself with two intensely memorable moments, and never wanders from the essence of her now overly “happy” character (she even comments upon that strange state of mind).

Cynthia Nixon, who arguably has been the most high profile besides Sarah since the show ended, has to deal with anger issues through most of the film, but comes through in the small moments. And blithe Kim Catrall takes both sushi and independence to a new level, with her always entertaining Samantha (she is the “Sex” in the title).

This is a film, adapted from a TV show, that always had the guiding forces of care and love upon it. The screenplay, by director Michael Patrick King (a long time associate with the series) overcomes its sticky early points to flower into a valentine for this particular universe, where the struggle for identity never has an age, and the need for one another is a universal truth.

Congratulations to all involved.

4-1/2 out of 5

Click here to read my preliminary thoughts on “Sex and the City” on my daily The Last Blog in Cyberspace.

Patrick McDonald is film critic and writer for this very web publication. And he is also in a band! www.myspace.com/thetelepaths

HollywoodChicago.com's picture

Amen, brother!

You make solid and similar points to my review. Overall, I’m glad we agree on the importance of spotlighting emotion in TV and film.

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