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6 reviews, 21 user ratings

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Sex and the City
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by Peter Sobczynski

"Bergdorf Uber Alles!"
1 stars

Without giving too much away--not that there is much of anything to give away, mind you, but I don’t want “spoiler” to be added to my list of sins--the long-awaited/feared film version of “Sex and the City” ends with a moral that essentially says that the truly important things in life are the simplest ones--love and friendship and the like--and that everything else is more or less meaningless by comparison. This is a nice enough sentiment, I suppose, but it is one that rings kind of hollow when it comes at the tail end of 143 minutes of unbearably shallow characters, numerous extraneous plot threads in lieu of a central storyline and more product placements than in the “Cannonball Run” saga entire. In fact, if I thought for a second that anyone involved had even the slightest sense of irony, I might have considered this coda to be the height of deadpan hilarity. Since there is no evidence of that particular quality on display here, I guess that it should instead be simply written off as the last of an enormous series of miscalculations in a film that will have non-fans of the original HBO series running for the aisles in horror and may even cause many of its most devoted acolytes to find themselves checking their wristwatches from time to time.

Picking up four years after the conclusion of the show, the film kicks things off by bringing us up to date with our Cosmo-swilling, leg-spreading heroines.(Although nothing surprising actually happens during the film, those who want to go in completely fresh should probably check out here.) High-powered attorney Miranda (Cynthia Nixon) is living in Brooklyn with her husband Steve (David Eigenberg) and child and has come to the apparent realization that she is the first woman in the history to discover that the pressures of work and family eat in to her much-needed hours of “me” time, which is kind of odd since we never actually see her doing anything work-related. Erstwhile romantic Charlotte (Kristin Davis) is living in comparatively happy bliss with her husband (Evan Handler) and their adopted Chinese daughter. Out on the west coast, the formerly on-the-prowl Samantha (Kim Cattrall) tries to make a go at a relatively monogamous lifestyle with her younger lover/client, hunky actor Smith (Jason Lewis) while fending off the relentless attacks of the diabolical Lo Pan. Finally, everyone’s favorite nouveau princess Carrie (Sarah Jessica Parker) is still seeing Mr. Big (Chris Noth) and after four years together, they decide to move in together into a swank penthouse apartment that is roughly half the size of Cambodia and which presumably costs twice that country’s GNP. Apparently this piece of real estate gets them in the mood and they decide to get married with all the excitement and fervor of an escrow closing.

Of course, having set up all the characters as being relatively happy and content in their respective lives, the film can’t wait to upend everything for them. Samantha grows increasingly tired of being in a relationship in which she is not the central focus and finds herself transferring her libidinous energy into self-help books, stabs at domesticity, food and a horny puppy and away from thoughts of the hunky and frequently naked neighbor next door. As for Charlotte, after spending years struggling to get pregnant before adopting her daughter, she unexpectedly finds herself in a family way. Miranda discovers that after months of rebuffing her hapless husband in the bedroom because she is just too darned busy and tired (at one point during an infrequent bit of coitus, she insists that he just hurry things up), he wound up having sex one time with someone else and she is so outraged that she leaves him and moves into a quaint Chinatown apartment by herself. As for Carrie, her plans for a simple and unassuming wedding fly out the window--these things will happen when you let “Vogue” into the pantry--and when an increasingly apprehensive Big is told by a bitter Miranda that it would be a huge mistake for him and Carrie to get married, he gets cold feet and leaves her standing at the altar, a move that plunges her into the kind of movie-long depression that can only be salved with the support of some loyal friends (at least until Miranda finally comes clean about her possible part in the wedding fiasco), a Mexican holiday, a newly-hired girl Friday, Louise (Jennifer Hudson), to help her arrange her stuff while offering Lando-like bits of wisdom while gushing over enough brand-names items to supply a high-toned game show with prizes for years to come. Although you would think that a writer who never seems to get around to do any actual writing would have little use for a full-time assistant, Carrie takes her on for entirely narcissistic reasons--with her obnoxious fetish for designer purses and her starry-eyed talk of finding love in the big city, Louise strikes her as a carbon copy of herself in her 20’s (or at least a photonegative).

Although I cannot claim to be an expert on the subject of “Sex and the City” by any means--my sole exposure to the show is a few of the early episodes that I caught up with when the DVDs for the first two seasons were sent to me and nothing about them compelled me to seek it out beyond that--I cannot believe for an instant that this is the kind of big-screen adventure that fans have been clamoring for over the last four years. Instead of a cohesive narrative that would further expand the world of the show while still managing to remain accessible to those who never got around to watching the original series, it feels instead as if writer-director Michael Patrick King simply goofed off until he realized that the due date for the screenplay was fast approaching and merely stitched together a half-season’s worth of unused plotlines on the assumption fans of the show would be so giddy over the return of their favorite program that they wouldn’t notice or care that the film was little more than five episodes strung together almost at random. (It even has the drab look of a TV show that has been expanded to the big screen without expanding the visual style.) Let me amend that by saying “five below-average episodes strung together almost at random” because what we have been served here is almost insultingly thin. The break-ups between Miranda and her husband and Carrie feel forced, the abandonment of Carrie by Mr. Big is patently unbelievable and the other plot threads seem to exist only to give the other actresses something or other to do. (Half of Cattrall’s scenes seem to consist of her arriving in New York to be greeted by her friends with open arms, though it seems that none of them think enough of her to pick her up from the airport). And after all of that, instead of leaving the characters in a new place, the film resolves everything so that they are right back where they started when we came in. As for the much-vaunted addition of Jennifer Hudson to the cast of a program that was infamously so lily-white that it made “Seinfeld” feel like “Good Times” by comparison, her presence is so obviously a blatant attempt to widen the potential moviegoing audience without actually making her a real part of the proceedings (she is literally segregated from all the other characters outside of Carrie) that it becomes inadvertently hilarious, especially when it turns out that she is only there to make her boss feel better about herself that--you keep waiting for the quip-for-all-occasions Carrie to refer to her as the Prada Bagger Vance.

Some of this might have been forgiven if the characters had been even slightly charming or interesting or likable, even with all of their various neuroses, but that is not the case here. Instead, we are presented with a quartet of wildly unappealing women who are so self-absorbed, self-aggrandizing, so thoroughly convinced that they are the most unique and special people on the planet (this may be the only film in which a character break up with a lover by saying “I love you but I love me more” and were are supposed to take it seriously as a you-go-girl! moment) and so willing to discuss the minutiae of their otherwise barren existences in excruciating deal that if you got stuck behind any one of them in line at Starbucks, you would not only flee for the safety of the branch across the street, you might give up coffee forever. It could be argued that the characters on “Seinfeld” were equally self-absorbed and self-aggrandizing as the ones featured here and you would be correct in that assertion. However, the difference between the two groups of characters is that the character flaws that Jerry, Elaine, George and Kramer demonstrated week after week were a.) endlessly amusing and b.) never meant to be particularly sympathetic--you never saw people going around claiming that they were a “George” or a “Kramer” as a way of defining themselves. Here, the characters are simply not amusing or sympathetic by any means--they are snotty, snobby and shamelessly materialistic status seekers and rather than look critically at their stunning levels of self-absorption, the film celebrates their narcissism wholeheartedly.

“Aha,” some of you may be thinking out there, “how could you possibly understand any of the humor in this film? After all, it is designed for women to appreciate and to be amused by and there is no possibly way that it could be understood on the same level by someone as coarse and unrefined as you.” That is a good point, I suppose, and if anyone cares to get into it in any detail via e-mail, I would be happy to discuss the matter further (as long as those e-mails are accompanied by 2195-word essays analyzing the new 3 Stooges DVD set in just as much depth as I have undertaken with this film). However, before you do so, let us sit for a moment and analyze some of the droll, female-oriented wit on display here. There are several scenes in which Samantha approvingly spies on her hunky neighbor having sex with a variety of babes. There is the sequence in which Charlotte inadvertently imbibes a single swallow of Mexican water and winds up with a massive case of turistas that makes her sound as if her every move is being accompanied by a whoopee cushion. There is a gag in which we discover in graphic close-up that one of our heroines has left a certain aspect of her personal grooming ritual on the backburner. There are numerous close-ups of a little doggie humping everything in sight and even a bit in which Samantha, hoping to put a little bit of spice (and wasabi) back into her relationship, strips naked and covers herself with sushi as part of a Valentine’s Day surprise that winds up going quite badly. I don’t want to sound crass or untoward by any means but if these desperate attempts at shock humor--the kinds of things that you would expect to find in one of those direct-to-video “American Pie” spin-offs--are meant to be the contemporary epitome of female based humor, then perhaps I was wrong and Christopher Hitchens had a point after all.

Look, I realize that for many of you, nothing that I say will begin to keep you from going to see “Sex and the City” (quite frankly, I’m guessing that most of them bailed out in the first paragraph once they realized that this review wasn’t going to be a sloppy journalistic wet kiss like the recent issue of corporate sibling Entertainment Weekly that was wholly dedicated to celebrating every aspect of the show and the film). Instead, this review is for those who are in the mood for a film this summer that doesn’t rely wholly on elaborate special effects (other than the ones keeping Kim Cattrall in working order) and which serves the chronically underestimated post-“Gossip Girl”/pre-“Golden Girls” female audience without insulting their intelligence. While I wish that I could recommend the film to those people, if only to avoid the inevitable charges that I was predisposed to hate the film simply because of my gender, the sad truth is that “Sex and the City” is a ponderous, unfunny and unsexy would-be romp that is such utter agony to sit through that you will find yourself fervently praying that if they do make another one sometime down the line (and my guess is that unless the New Line curse continues to hold even after the studio’s dissolution and absorption into the Warner Brothers fold, it will make enough money to ensure a follow-up), someone will have the good sense to combine it with a sequel to “Cloverfield” and really give these twits something to whine about.

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=16859&reviewer=389
originally posted: 05/30/08 00:00:00
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User Comments

2/20/17 morris campbell who wants watch old chicks looking 4 dick? 1 stars
3/18/11 some random guy its okay 4 stars
4/28/09 Rio Sexist and the shitty. 1 stars
12/03/08 Shaun Wallner Fell asleep to this one. 1 stars
9/20/08 Steven James Parker This movie is great! I love it! Funny and charming! A must see! 5 stars
7/27/08 Monster W. Kung My cat makes better things than this. PS: my cat is not a movie director. 1 stars
7/18/08 Susan Lee I thought it was great .. much like the series.. great fun..aside from miscast hudson 5 stars
6/07/08 Mockingbird Erik, if you can't spell "admission," I'm afraid I can't accept your smug witticisms 4 stars
6/06/08 Sully Wish my boss would gift me with a $5400. Louis Vuitton Bag 4 stars
6/06/08 judyr stinks 1 stars
6/04/08 Jayson Better off on TV. 2 stars
6/04/08 Jon And we wonder why people want to blow us up. 2 stars
6/03/08 carol proof positive a show can make millions and be a piece of crap made for superficiality 1 stars
6/02/08 Norm It's was great! Damn Male Critics! 5 stars
6/01/08 L.A. Francois This movie remained true to the series' characters. Fans will enjoy it! 4 stars
6/01/08 George Barksdale A "Chick Flick" all the way. My daughters loved it but I was ready to go. 4 stars
5/31/08 jcjs33 like such TV shows..shallow, materialistic, dunce, douche bag sluts 1 stars
5/31/08 reptilesni This movie was made me long for the series again. It was a realy treat for SIC fans. 4 stars
5/31/08 D Another sign of the coming apocalypse 1 stars
5/31/08 Miles I actually liked this show once... 2 stars
5/31/08 Darkstar I fucking hate my girlfriend for dragging me to see this bullshit. 1 stars
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  30-May-2008 (R)
  DVD: 23-Sep-2008


  DVD: 23-Sep-2008

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