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Sex and the City


Close up of monitor, we see each key as it appears on the screen, synchronized with Carrie’s voice-over.

When so few TV shows have had the ability or opportunity to finish their run on an episode that can honestly be said to “complete” the storyline, you have to ask yourself...

...why revisit a TV show that had a perfectly perfect ending? The answer is, of course, the audience wanted more. And more they’re going to get.

When Sex and the City ended its six season run on HBO four years ago, we believed the quartet would continue their fabulous, if now slightly distanced, lives. And four years hasn’t changed all that much. Miranda is over the Brooklyn Bridge with Steve, Samantha off in Hollywood with Smith, Charlotte and Harry continuing to build a perfect family and Carrie still playing house with Big. But in the world of cocktail lunches and rhinestone cell phones they still get together regularly to discuss love, life and labels.

OK, cutting to the chase. If you loved the series you’ll love the movie. You can stop reading now.

But I knew you wouldn’t… ok, let’s dish.

Opening credits begin with a few bars of the original series theme, which set the predominantly double-X chromosome bearing audience to screaming. This is followed by a minute or so of patented “Carrie Bradshaw voice-over catch-up” where everyone’s relationships are recapped, adorned with footage from the last season of the TV series.

The whole cast is back: Sarah Jessica Parker, Kim Cattrall, Kristin Davis, and Cynthia Nixon looking not so much different for four years later. Most of the supporting cast returns, all the essentials plus a few new faces including Jennifer Hudson as Carrie's new assistant “St. Louise from St. Louis.” And the cameos are a nice set of call-backs, including Candice Bergen as Vogue editor Enid, Willie Garson as Stanford, and Mario Cantone as Anthony.

We won’t spoil anything – much. You’ve already seen pictures of wedding dresses and yes there is a wedding. And yes, things go wrong. There are misunderstandings, hurt feelings, painful breakups, an unexpected pregnancy, shaky make-ups, and one permanently broken relationship at the end of it all.

There is quite a lot of joy, too. The gang’s dialogue still hums along, almost as if scripted, and the cinematography is another love letter to NYC. But the most noteworthy dalliance is the continued, if not escalated, label obsession so much a part of the original series. The two hours and fifteen minutes is filled with more self-conscious consumerism than you would see spending the same time on the Shopping Channel. But, of course, it’s a higher quality product.

The movie well-earns its R rating, with plenty adult language and of nudity. Admittedly most of the latter is provided by Samantha peeping into her next door neighbor’s apartment, where his repeated soft-core antics tempt the temptress.

HBO had set some standards for the main cast; we aren’t cheated in the movie. Miranda shows that she’s no worse for wear. Although still fabulous, Samantha doesn’t get to challenge her notoriously sexy scenes from the show – not because she’s fifty (birthday in the movie, a smidge older in real life), but because her scene is composed of the least flattering nude pose she’s ever had to stay still for. Of course we’ll still have none of that for Charlotte or Carrie.

Forty minutes into the movie we hit the main theme hard -- the fragility of real relationships, and the roles of trust and, most important, forgiveness. That trusting is hard, and unhappiness is far too easy to embrace. This is where the weakest parts of the movie come into play. Whether you can believe the hard stances taken on either denying forgiveness for so long, or the motivations for melting the walls of ice you’ve erected and accepting your partner as human, with flaws just like yours. Epiphanies come without much inspiration, mostly because it’s time to move the story along. A little heavy-handed at times, but if you want to believe, you will.

All this is sprinkled with more than a few really warm sisterhood segments, and some out-loud laughs. Plenty of SATC fans will be simultaneously saying “Bottle!” at restaurants for a while. We’ll still smile recalling Charlotte’s brush with Montezuma’s revenge and Miranda’s sex-crazy dog. The bitch! And our favorite scene where Carrie returns a proffered iPhone with the statement “I don’t know how to work this.” OK, slightly fewer repeat viewers in Cupertino CA.

Blockbuster? Sure, there’s enough here for multiple viewings, girls dragging their friends out for a must-see. Social phenomenon? Likely. When was the last time you attended a movie where the audience was predominantly composed of groups of four to nine women dressed for a night out? On a Tuesday?

And for all those who believe, it’s a real Cinderella story.

Ric Bretschneider

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