Judging from the crowds on opening night, the Sex and the City movie—and more specifically the HBO series that spawned it—is the type of pop-culture phenomenon that requires a certain acquired taste. After seeing women arriving at the theater Friday evening dressed up in evening wear and heels (and in one case, showing up in a limousine), I could only conclude that the movie and the show are akin to Star Wars for the Cosmo set. But before I get called “out of touch,” or accused of “just not getting it,” I will readily admit that I am not the target audience for Sex and the City. I’d have said this before I saw the movie, and I’ll most definitely say it after watching it.
But not understanding the hubbub surrounding Sex and the City is not the reason I’ve given the movie a single star. No, the sad fact is the movie is not good. At all. In any way. As filmmaking, it’s shoddy, predictable, dull, poorly acted and, maybe worst of all, way too long. I’m talking Apocalypse Now (1979) long. The bright side is that at a whopping 145 minutes, that’s about 17 1⁄2 minutes of movie for every dollar spent on a ticket. That’s a better deal than the price of gas or ground beef.
The story mainly focuses on Carrie (Sarah Jessica Parker), a New York City writer with a taste for high fashion, and her engagement—and subsequent breakup—with longtime boyfriend “Mr. Big” (Chris Noth). The subplots of the film involve Carrie’s circle of friends—Samantha (Kim Cattrall), Charlotte (Kristin Davis) and Miranda (Cynthia Nixon)—and their relationships. The main storyline is theoretically workable, but writer-director (and show stalwart) Michael Patrick King draws every bit of minutiae he can out of the film, following Carrie through an entire year’s worth of post-breakup malaise. And because the manner in which Carrie and Big reconcile can be guessed within the first 20 minutes (I guessed the first part of their resolution while Ken Hanke figured out the second) means you’ve got another two hours to wait for the movie to end up exactly where you knew it would to begin with.
King does little to try and push the movie forward; he instead takes pointless side trips and grinds the movie to a halt at every opportunity—something that would be a problem even if the movie didn’t already move at the speed of continental drift. Carrie’s depressed? Let’s go to Mexico to set up the world’s most expensive Montezuma’s revenge gag, just to make the point that the only way to get over being dumped and left at the altar is seeing your friend crap her pants. (According to the dialogue, this constitutes something “truly funny.”) So Carrie’s cleaning out her closet? Let’s have her pointlessly show off what she wore in the ‘80s. There’s a fashion show in New York? Let’s have the gals attend it for no good reason. I realize fashion is a big aspect of the TV show, but when you see people wearing giant hats that make them look like pepper mills, or Parker wearing everything from a gigantic two-foot-wide hibiscus to a robe made of Yeti, it’s a bit ridiculous. They could’ve thrown in Sean Connery’s red-leather bikini from Zardoz (1974), and I wouldn’t have been surprised.
And then there’s the acting, such as Kristin Davis shrieking throughout the entire film like King Kong just showed up. But she’s nowhere near as bad as the men in this movie, who prove that there is a difference between movie talent and television talent, especially when Miranda’s husband (TV actor David Eigenberg) is on-screen. He spends the entire movie being mildly creepy, blubbery and sweating like he just escaped from a methadone clinic. But even when there is talent on-screen, it’s wasted. Take the addition of Jennifer Hudson (Dreamgirls), who’s obviously there for some forced racial diversity. Her character ends up as a throwaway plot device as opposed to an actual character.
The whole thing would have worked better on TV, and even then it’s a fans-only deal. So if you like the show, you’ll probably like the movie. And if you aren’t a fan, you probably weren’t contemplating watching this film in the first place. Rated R for strong sexual content, graphic nudity and language.