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Review: Sex and the City (2008)

Sex and the City (2008)

Directed by: Michael Patrick King

Premise: A feature length adaptation of the HBO television series. Carrie (Sarah Jessica Parker), a New York life and culture columnist, prepares to get married. After her fiancé (Chris Noth) leaves her at the altar, Carrie and her friends (Cynthia Nixon, Kristin Davis, Kim Cattrall) confront complications in their love lives as they transition into late middle age.

What Works: Sex and the City is a very good adaptation of a television program in that it captures much of what worked best about the show while elevating the story to the next level. The film is primarily about the transition into late middle age and how romantic priorities change after the women have their Cinderella moment. Nearly all of the main characters are given a major curve ball in their lives that forces them to reevaluate their priorities and leads them down the path to epiphany. Of the four this is done best with Miranda (Cynthia Nixon), who is given by far the best material and who delivers the best performance. Her story is smartly tied in with Carrie’s and two plots mirror each other like a pair of shoes. Like the show, there is plenty of sharp dialogue and wide-eyed ogling over designer labels but the motion picture attempts to cut a little deeper into the characters, drawing out the conflicts and giving the various plots greater highs and lows.

What Doesn’t: This feature length version of Sex and the City inflates some of the weaknesses of the television series. Many have praised the four lead female characters as modern independent women, but that is hardly true at all. These women are incredibly high maintenance drama queens who are mostly traditional in their portrayal, obsessing over materialistic trifles, treating gossip as though it were philosophy, and expecting Prince Charming to ride up and sweep them off their feet. While Carrie and company are fun to spend a couple of hours with on screen, in real life such a person would be intolerable. Where the show made headway was in its frank dramatization of sexuality and contemporary courtship. The film and its characters show maturation with the transition away from sex and into love, but in the process it traverses from novelty and into cliché. Carrie’s drama with Mr. Big (Noth) manages to hit a lot of familiar notes of the romantic comedy genre and it lacks any irony or innovation that marked the rest of the series.

Bottom Line: Sex and the City will satisfy fans of the television show. Obviously viewers who did not like the show will not like the film, but it is a mostly successful adaptation of a television program, bringing its characters and their world of romance and fashion faithfully to the screen.

Episode: #194 (June 22, 2008)