- Rated R
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All photos © New Line Cinema
Reviewed by Jason Zingale
s a heterosexual male, I’m pretty much expected to scoff at any mention of “Sex and the City,” since no straight man could possibly grasp the cultural significance of a show about four middle-aged single women living in New York City. Having seen the since-cancelled HBO series in its entirety, however, I’m not only prepared to defend its popularity, but would also agree that while it isn’t necessarily my cup of tea, “Sex and the City” remains one of the network’s best shows. It’s exactly that kind of attitude that led me to believe I might be able to enjoy the much-hyped reunion of Sarah Jessica Parker and Co. on the big screen. But while the movie definitely sparks moments of nostalgia, it ultimately falls victim to some sketchy storytelling and one of the most overblown runtimes in recent memory.
Picking up three years after the series left off, Carrie Bradshaw (Parker) is no longer writing her famed sex column from which the show drew its name, but is now a published author with a fourth book on the way. She’s also the happy fiancée of business hotshot John Preston (AKA Mr. Big, played by Chris Noth), who finally pops the big question after Carrie voices concern about their future together. With wedding bells only a few months away, Carrie calls in her trio of gal pals – Charlotte (Kristin Davis), Miranda (Cynthia Nixon) and Samantha (Kim Cattrall) – to help with the planning, but when John suddenly gets cold feet, it sets off a chain of life changes for everyone involved.
Though “Sex and the City” has always primarily been a comedy, its big screen counterpart is surprisingly dark and depressing. After an opening act that serves as a fun re-introduction into the lives of the four women, the next 90 minutes are spent destroying virtually every one of their relationships. Of course, most of them are repaired in time for the feel-good finale, but it only makes sitting through the 135-minute runtime seem that much more pointless. Fans of the series have seen these characters prosper (and suffer) through far more interesting story arcs before, and though the big finale is definitely satisfying, it doesn’t exactly change anything that wasn’t already established at the end of the show’s run.
It’s simply a matter of writer/director Michael Patrick King trying to do too much at once, and he gets a little overly ambitious along the way. King has crammed an entire season’s worth of story into a two-hour movie, and while the script has its share of soon-to-be classic moments sprinkled throughout, it often forgets what made the series so great to begin with. The women’s male counterparts are starved of well-deserved screen time, while fan favorites like Mario Cantone and Willie Garson should consider themselves lucky they were even asked to return, let alone given the chance to talk. The one shining gem in this heaping mess of misdirection is Jennifer Hudson, who quickly proves that she doesn’t need to be singing to be charming. It’s just too bad her character is as unnecessary as the movie itself, because stars like her are what spin-offs were made for.