Friday, February 5, 2010

"Sex and the City" too long but snappy and enjoyable

Sex and the City (2008) 
148 min., rated R.
Grade: B +

A bloated but ever satisfying screen adaptation of the stiletto-sharp, witty, insightful HBO TV series, based on Candance Bushnell's book, "Sex and the City" picks back up four years later after the season finale with the materialistic, fab four Manhattanites. And don't forget their Cosmos, sex talks, and Manolo Blahnik heels. 

In New York City where women are looking for the 2 Ls—labels and love—quippy columnist-cum-Vogue writer Carrie Bradshaw (Sarah Jessica Parker), our narrator, has hit 40 and is ready to take her longtime relationship with lova "Mr. Big" (Chris Noth) to the next level ... which comes with a big closet. The sexually uninhibited cougar Samantha (the very funny Kim Cattrall) is managing her beefy star lover, Smith, in L.A., visiting New York whenever she wants; the prim and perky Charlotte (an oft-mannered Kristin Davis) is stable and happily married to Harry with their adopted Asian daughter; and the cynical lawyer Miranda (Cynthia Nixon) is frazzled over work, childcare, and her undersexed marriage with Steve. 

Now, coming from a non-fashionista who doesn't carry a $979 Louis Vuitton galliera, the movie version isn't quite a man's man night-out, but it's a pleasant surprise and will delight the female/gay/drag queen in all of us. In the hands of veteran series writer-director Michael Patrick King, this exclusive love letter “event” for fans and girl power is smart, funny, and sexually frank. Women are painted as real, strong, emotional creatures, not as shrews or control-freak harpies, which is a refreshing and (lately) rare quality in a Hollywood picture. "Sex and the City" still has enough fizz and snap in the zinger dialogue from the show and touching emotional arcs that ring true, especially Nixon's Miranda. Especially poignant is a New Years Eve sequence, cued to the lovely song “Auld Lang Syne.” 

The quartet of perfectly cast women effortlessly and comfortably get back into their likable characters, looking beautifully glossy and having inarguable chemistry again on the big screen. Allotment of screen time for each of the four isn't quite equal (Parker's Carrie mostly takes center stage and Davis's Charlotte is reduced to soiling her pants), but they all shine, and this is a great showcase for Parker's comedic and dramatic skills as an actress. Fashionistas will also be overjoyed by Patricia Field's expectedly flamboyant costume design. Newcomer Jennifer Hudson is also very likable and earnest as Carrie's sassy, saintly assistant, Louise, from St. Louis. 

While it does get a little soapy, the movie has as much substance as it does Louis Vuitton style, episodically dealing with love, heartbreak, depression, pregnancy, personal growth, and sharing wisdom about undying friendships and the sisterhood. Padding a superficial runway fashion show and hip wardrobe change montages into the 2 hours and 28 minutes, exactly why did the movie version have to be trotted out the length of a marathon, almost five episodes' worth? 

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