"Women come to New York for the two Ls - Love and Labels!" propounds Carrie Bradshaw after a rather nifty opening sequence to one of the most eagerly-awaited films of the year. While the statement might be true for the hardly working New York scribe with a passion for men and Manolo Blahniks, and her three deep-in-fashion, shallow-in-sense gal-pals, reality is a different script.
Sex And The City, the movie, is an extended version of the popular sitcom that was a rage with the chicks 4 years back. Yet the TV version was natural, melancholic, funny, and came in 30-minute tasty bites. It delivered the television goods for six seasons, no small feat in the pop culture annals. The show's twists and turns in all that funny yet emotional melee, always evolving and expanding in surprising ways, struck an amazing chord with the women.
But when all this is kneaded into a 2-hour movie, it takes away much of that gloss and natural flow of things, and what you get instead is a predictable and precedented sick flick, as opposed to a chick flick.
Indeed, there are no surprises in the movie - it's the usual frou frou, the confessional lunches, casual sex and dubious cocktails. Here's the spoiler-free set-up: Samantha (Kim Catrall) has moved to California to manage the rising acting career of boytoy Smith Jerrod (Jason Lewis). Charlotte(Kristin Davis) and husband Harry (Evan Handler) are the proud parents of the daughter they adopted in China. And Miranda (Cynthia Nixon) and hubby Steve (David Eigenberg) are struggling to raise their young son while she juggles a demanding career in law.
All is right in this carefree world until Mr. Big (Chris Noth), the zillionaire real estate mogul who has been shaking her bed but breaking her heart all these years, casually asks Carrie â€" and please hold those squeals â€" if she would like to get married. And Big isn't being small about the details: the nuptials come with a Manhattan penthouse that costs the earth, and a custom-made closet that quakes Carrie to the core: "Now I believe this is really happening!" she coos.
The question leads to the usual luncheon postmortem and then the expected romcom clothing montage, and a staggering number of product placements (Louis Vuitton co-stars). Even Candice Bergen returns in her hilarious cameo as the editor of Vogue, who demands that Carrie pose for a photo spread as a fabulous 40s bride. The carrot, she tells Carrie, is not the Vogue photography, but rather the "Vogue air-brushing!"
And expectedly, all this goes ridiculously south when Carrie is let down, er, 'Big' time. Blame it on her over-indulgence in the Vivienne Westwood-sponsored wedding, or on the gametophobic Mr. Big, but she ends up licking her wounds down Mexico way, accompanied by her amazingly accessible gal-pals. What follows is a predictable soul-searching spree by the quartet in the midst of some shallow comedy that's flatter than Carrie's steely six-pack, and a trite happy ending.
About a decade or so ago, Sarah Jessica Parker set TVs on fire with her portrayal of the frothy Carrie Bradshaw, and she is no different in the cinematic version. Her performance is stellar, but acting can only be as good as the screenplay gets. Sarah is Carrie, always.
Canadian siren Kim Cattrall plays sex-addled Samantha Jones to a tee. Plain Jane Miranda, and scrupulous and sunny Charlotte, are brought back to life again by the elegant Cynthia Nixon and bubbly Kristin Davis. As Carrie's 'Man'friend (as he prefers to be called in the film), Chris Noth puts on a stoic but admirable show as 'Mr. Big', the only male character worthy of mention in a cheesy femme film.
There are plenty of moments where the superficial reigns supreme, which is not startling as it is a maxim in the SATC world. And the film has its moments in that it's still 'Sex And The City', and women love being in this utterly materialistic and fantastical world of financial autonomy and healthy sex lives.
But what keeps the film from being a feature-length ode to narcissism and greed, is the genuine affection among the four women, and the pain and confusion that reside within their Victoria's Secret-clad bosoms - or sushi-draped bod, in Samantha's unique circumstance.
A must-see for the ladies, gentlemen stay out.