Barkeep, a round of (virtual) cosmos on me. The summer’s ultimate chick flick Sex and the City came, saw and trampled the competition with its six-inch Manolos this weekend. With an estimated $55 million weekend take, the film trounced expectations to become the biggest opening romantic comedy in box office history. But the question remains: Was the Sex any good?
Yes … and, no, but, mostly, yes. At two hours and 25 minutes, the film is arguably about 45 minutes too long. Still, I actually had the proverbial “I laughed, I cried” reaction. (I did laugh, and I did cry.) And, for the most part, I had a pretty good time. It was like slipping on a really nice, really expensive, really familiar pair of shoes. The film played out like the show’s seventh season simultaneously down and blown up.
Everything is bigger and more fabulous in the film: the clothes, the shoes, the purses, the apartments, the locations. Money has become, truly, no obstacle. And while the eye candy is impressive, it has never been why I watched the series. I have never —not once —lusted after a designer handbag.
[WARNING: Plot spoilers below. If you haven’t seen the movie yet, best to skedaddle. If you have, pour yourself another cocktail and let’s talk.]
So, what worked? The friendships. Ten years after we first met them Carrie, Charlotte, Miranda and Samantha are still the reason Sex and the City works. The chemistry between the women still feels organic. So when they’re together, there is a shorthand and ease there that makes you believe you’re eavesdropping on a group of longtime friends.
What else worked? The interplay of humor and heart. The bon mots were, as always, wonderfully clever. Sometimes I wish I could hire the SATC writers to pen a week’s worth of witticisms for me, so I too could go around dropping hilarity gems. But at its heart the film is about the women’s relationships, both with each other and the men in their lives.
What didn’t work? Jennifer Hudson as Carrie’s new personal assistant. Look, before you start throwing copies of Dreamgirls at my head, let me say that I think J-Hud is prodigiously talented. But we tuned in for six seasons to see these four women together. Why throw in an entirely new character who dominates the middle half of the movie? It takes away from the interaction between the core foursome while asking the audience to connect emotionally with yet another character in an already large cast. It’s called Sex and the City, not Carrie and Her Assistant.
What else didn’t work? The predictability. Twenty minutes into the film I turned to my friends and said, “The movie is going to end with her getting married in that simple dress at city hall.” Two hours later and voila! And Big gets commitment issues — again? Could they not have thought of a better, less familiar obstacle for Carrie and Big to overcome on their way to happily ever after?
What really, really worked? Sarah Jessica Parker and Cynthia Nixon. Both actresses gave stand-out performances in what is already a stand-out cast including Kristin Davis and Kim Cattrall. But Sarah and Cynthia got to show the disappointment and even bitterness that comes when the quest for happily hits some snags on the road to ever after. The Miranda and Steve storyline in particular felt both real and raw.
And while we’re talking about Miranda, did you catch the sly joke about Cynthia’s status as the cast’s one gay women? It was a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it reference to Miranda and Carrie being mistaken for girlfriends during their lonely hearts Valentine’s dinner. Also, holy cow, did we get to see a lot of Cynthia. And, really, the only thing I think I can appropriately say is that girlfriend has been working out. Da-YUM.
So, what did you think? Was the Sex good for you, too?