Sunday, September 28, 2008


Written and Directed by Michael Patrick King
Starring Sarah Jessica Parker, Kristen Davis, Kim Cattrall, Cynthia Nixon and Chris Noth

The days leading up to the premiere of the SEX AND THE CITY movie were very exciting for me. I was about to get this chance to catch up with four fictional girlfriends who changed my life and whom I hadn’t seen in years. The morning of the press screening finally came and, seeing as how it was a morning screening, I couldn’t sit there with a constant flow of cosmopolitans. To compensate, I got all dressed up and threw on my new shoes to boot. I was bubbling over with nostalgia and an energy shared amongst millions of fans who were also overcome with anticipation. And then it started. Soon afterward, my disappointment set in. Here they all were, up on the big screen, looking fabulous and doing just as good a job as they did for six years on HBO. Only something was missing. Intimacy. Subtlety. These are elements of the series that defined it, that elevated it from groundbreaking to timeless. Bringing the girls to the big screen and stretching their story over 2 ½ hours made those moments fewer and further apart. Unfortunately, now that they’ve come home to our living rooms on DVD (with an unbelievable 20-minute longer extended cut that elevates SEX AND THE CITY to unnecessarily epic proportions), the experience is no more satisfying.

Of course, now I can have that martini while I watch. And, to be clear, I didn’t hate the movie. I just had high expectations. Writer/Director Michael Patrick King and the rest of the gang certainly set the bar high for themselves so I can hardly be held accountable for wanting to live up to that standard. I even found writing about the film after its release to be pretty difficult. I could not resolve how to convey my disappointment without making it seem like the entire project should not have happened. On the big screen, the six years of these girls’ lives was reduced to a three minute opening montage on the off chance that a non-fan would actually end up in the auditorium. That was followed by over two hours of episodic (read, non-filmic) storytelling that furthered the characters in mostly interesting ways. Just like the series though, I appreciated the development of every character save for the central heroine, Carrie Bradshaw (Sarah Jessica Parker). Her progress, on some bizarre level, reminds me of Frodo’s in the second LORD OF THE RINGS film – she starts out promising enough, goes through incredible trials and somehow at the end of a very long journey, ends up exactly where she started. (Bet you never imagined a SEX AND THE CITY/LORD OF THE RINGS comparison.) Growth is something I’ve come to expect and require from Carrie as she inspired so much of it in me and so many others. Watching her go backwards is just hard to accept.

Still, the film was an international success, finding some fans going back two and three times and the people behind the project clearly feel they did the series justice. They took four years between the series and the film because they wanted to ensure there was a strong story to be told so as not to disappoint the fans (this same explanation is being given for the potential of a sequel). The SEX AND THE CITY people know how tricky it is to stay in the public’s good graces and their appreciation of their audience is felt strongly on the 2-disc special edition DVD. MKP and SJP (King and Parker) share a 20-minute conversation about the experience that spans everything from performances to nuances and from fashion to fans. Costuming icon, Patricia Field, takes us on a tour of the unbelievable accessorized costume shop and overall design for the film that is elaborately daunting but well thought out in a surprising organic fashion. King returns for a commentary track that only further shows the sensitive side of the man behind the lens and how that sensibility finds its way into every frame. Before I knew it, my dismayed heart had turned, just a little. It just wasn’t enough for me to be completely carried away.



1 comment:

David Swindle said...

I wouldn't call myself a "Sex and the City" fan but having seen maybe about two dozen episodes I certainly like the show and the concept. I absolutely HATED the film for fairly personal reasons that have nothing to do with the substance of the show and everything to go with the plot they concocted. Of all the relationship issues they could have chosen to explore they decide to do miscommunication and when one half the relationship chooses to cut themselves off from the other half when they're supposed to actually talk about their problems?

It was an F movie experience for me -- I seriously wanted to walk -- but I had to balance out my review since not everyone has my particular relationship neuroses.

Good review. I'm usually curious though about extended and unrated DVDs what scenes they add back in. Anything substantial?