Being a young woman living in New York City, I often feel required to have an opinion on Sex and the City. Do I love it? Is it a guilty pleasure? Do I recognize that it's really just a giant pit of consumerist greed? After seeing the Sex and the City movie, the big, shiny sparkler on top of the decadent cake that was the series, the answer to all of those questions is: Yes. Can I have seconds?
It's hard to tell what qualifies as spoiler material for this movie, which has been so fervently anticipated by so many, so let's keep the plot description brief. It's three years after the end of the series. Everyone is pretty much where we left them, except for Samantha (Kim Cattrall), who has relocated to California to manage the career of her actor-model boyfriend Smith (Jason Lewis). Back in New York, Charlotte's adopted daughter, an infant in a photo in the series finale, is a toddler. Miranda's son Brady is out of diapers. And a relationship between Carrie and Big that was just getting started in the last moments of the show is going strong—with joint real estate even getting involved.
That's where we start, and where we go from there can be touching, funny, exasperating, and often alive with the devilish spark that made the show such a joy to begin with. The series ran the gamut with its storylines throughout its life, from deadly serious (Samantha's cancer, the slow decline of Steve's mother) to ridiculously trivial (the Rabbit, the Manolos, the Cosmos). The movie dabbles in a little bit of it all, combining stories that could be taking place in any relationship anywhere with the zany, only-in-New-York mischief that eventually came to define the show as an escapist fantasy.
The tube-to-screen translation isn't always an easy fit, as the show's lickety-split montage structure feels unwieldy over a two-and-a-half-hour running time. The story runs for a while with Carrie's story before detouring for a moment to see Charlotte take a pratfall, then it jets off to Malibu to visit Samantha. The girls may all come together over the course of various brunches and strolls down the street, but their stories never do.
At other times you can feel the movie trying to puff up its chest and fill the big spaces it thinks a Big Movie ought to occupy. This works occasionally, with stories that dig deep into real emotions and key scenes set in stunning New York locations. But you also miss the confining TV screen edges around these characters, the cozy intimacy that gave them the audacity to discuss vibrators and threeways in your living room. The show usually embraced its own triviality, but the movie often fights against it, trying for big mixed metaphors about the nature love and friendship when what we're really waiting for is a good dick joke.
But then, just when you feel the movie veering off into chick flick syrup, Samantha buys a pet dog that humps everything in sight, or Carrie laments her vacation “Mexicoma.” And you're right back where you started ten years ago, with four gabby women who are so ridiculously fun to spend time with that you don't mind when they drive you crazy. The most important elements of the show, from the warm friendship between the four leads to the occasional cutting truths about relationships, are all blissfully intact. In the end the movie is so much more than the bloated marketing opportunity indicated by the endless product placement and the movie's own publicity barrage over the last few months.
The actresses are all in their comfort zones, as familiar and gorgeous as they ever were on the small screen. Jennifer Hudson's part, as Carrie's personal assistant, is minimal, but she's spunky enough in her limited scenes. The men, as they always were, are peripheral, but Noth gets in a few of the biting one-liners that always made Mr. Big appealing despite everything. And the fashion—oh God, the fashion. Every actress has at least four outfits so colorful and lush you practically want to eat them.
In short, Sex and the City the movie is everything Sex and the City the show ever was, as rambling and superficial as it is cunning and loveable. Fans will be beside themselves, and even those who may wind up in the theater against their better judgment will find plenty to enjoy. When the gals walk off into the sunset at the end, this time it's probably for good. As much frustration as they may have caused us over the years, you've got to thank them for giving us a final visit so memorable.