Despite endless online whining from the fanboys — those mega-geeks who make any self-respecting male contemplate a sex-change operation lest he be mistaken for one of these pathetic creatures — anyone who’s ever bothered to watch the acclaimed HBO series can realize that this motion picture sequel-of-sorts need not be the exclusive property of women and homosexuals.
At its heart, the show was about the necessity of enduring friendships and how they can serve as an anchor in a roiling sea of emotional upheavals. Based on the book by Candace Bushnell, the series cannily focused on four New Yorkers who ideally represented different types of women: inquisitive Carrie (Sarah Jessica Parker), perpetually horny Samantha (Kim Cattrall), brainy, brittle Miranda (Cynthia Nixon) and reserved, constantly upbeat Charlotte (Kristin Davis). The show ended with the characters either married or in settled relationships, and the movie picks up several years after that point. That has changed the dynamic of the product, since the fun of watching these four single gals whoop it up in the Big Apple has by necessity been curtailed to focus on their triumphs and travails as attached women. Thus, Carrie is preoccupied with her upcoming marriage to longtime beau Mr. Big (Chris Roth); Samantha valiantly resists the call of the penis as she struggles to remain faithful to her hunky if unavailable boyfriend Jerry (Jason Lewis); Miranda contends with issues of infidelity as they relate to her husband Steve (David Eigenberg); and Charlotte is content with life with hubbie Harry (Evan Handler) and their adopted daughter. Sex and the City works because its ability to mix real-world issues with reel-world fantasies provides it with both gravity and buoyancy. The rawness of the Miranda-Steve situation serves as an effective counterpoint to Samantha’s comic ogling of a hunky neighbor (Gilles Marini), and the contrast elevates both plot threads. In fact, writer-director Michael Patrick King humanizes all these characters far more than detractors insist: Carrie seeks lasting love more than anything superficial, so how is her perennial desire for designer shoes any more offensive than any given guy’s ceaseless longing for a kick-ass home entertainment center? To be sure, the movie makes a few missteps. I really didn’t need the running gag of a dog that humps everything in sight. And the new character of Louise, Carrie’s personal assistant, is not only unnecessary but, worse, reveals that without any showstopping tunes to hide behind, Dreamgirls Oscar winner Jennifer Hudson might not possess an ounce of acting talent.
For the most part, though, the movie is likely to satisfy faithful followers of the cable show, and even select newbies should enjoy this break away from the summer season’s more clamorous offerings.