The world’s population is split divided like this: 60% women, 40% men. That means 60% of the world’s population will likely squeal with delight at the mention of the names Carrie, Samantha, Miranda and Charlotte, while 40% will likely scratch their heads, wondering what all the fuss is about.
If the names don’t ring a bell they are the Sex and the City mainstays; the four women who navigated New York City’s treacherous relationship waters for six seasons on HBO. Four years after wrapping up their small screen adventures the foursome is back with a feature length, (and then some), movie that sees them older, but not necessarily wiser.
As the movie plays catch-up with the Fab Four best-selling author Carrie (Sarah Jessica Parker), a fashionista so fabulous she even wears a pearl necklace to bed, is still with her longtime paramour Mr. Big (Chris Noth), the kind of businessman who instead of sending a love letter to his girlfriend would be more likely to have his secretary send a love fax.
Miranda (Cynthia Nixon), the no nonsense lawyer, has settled into a comfortable but boring relationship with Steve (David Eigenberg), the father of her child.
Charlotte’s (Kristin Davis) perfect life has gotten even more perfect with the addition of an adopted daughter and the notoriously self-centered Samantha (Kim Cattrall) has relocated to Los Angeles to manage the career of her hunky boytoy Smith (Jason Lewis).
The players firmly in place, the characters then spend the next two hours and twenty minutes changing in-and-out of designer clothes, sitting in expensive Eames chairs while pondering whether marriage ruins everything in a relationship. The interpersonal questions and glamorous style are vintage Sex and the City, but somewhere in the years since the show went off the air whatever edge the writing once had became blunted.
The wisecracks are still there—Candace Bergen as Vogue editor Enid Frick has the movie’s best line when she says, “Forty is the last age a woman can be photographed in a wedding dress without the unintended Diane Arbus subtext”—and there is certainly more than enough talk of relationships but the rebellious spirit of friendship that guided the girls through a mountain of men has evaporated.
Where these women had once been sexual suffragettes who thumbed their noses at traditional morality, they now seem much more conventional, looking to men as the fonts of all happiness. I’m afraid that the relationship gladiators Carrie, Samantha, Miranda and Charlotte of the edgy television series would barely recognize their namby-pamby big-screen counterparts.
On other counts though, the movie, which is as review proof as any to be released this year, continues the traditions of the television show. The lifestyle porn—prominent designer labels on everything, a walk-in closet that could only exist in Manolo Blahnik’s wildest dreams and enough expensive shoes to shod and entire army of Vivienne Westwood wannabes—is lovingly photographed and should please audiences more concerned with couture than story.
Despite its turn toward a more conservative tone, the Sex and the City movie will please fans, who will likely find the experience somewhat akin to watching an entire season of the show on DVD. Others—that 40% I mentioned earlier—may be put off by the improbable “Oh Puleeze!” ending and left wondering what all the fuss was about to begin with.