I think what I'm about to say, is going to leave me extremely vulnerable as a man. I'm just going to have to suck it up and come clean like this was some sort of intervention, and let it all hang out.
I like Sex and the City. There, I said it.
Go ahead and laugh all you want! I had a great time watching the girls go through their ups and downs while looking fabulous. I'd watch them all with my wife as they came out on DVD, but I'd be lying if I used the same tired excuse every man makes. She didn't make me watch the series. I would look at DVDTalk's very own release list so I could tell my wife when to expect the next season on DVD. The show at times was a little too much in the 'girl power' department, true, but overall it was very charming and witty. I seriously hope I didn't just e-castrate myself with such an admission.
Of course, Sex and the City wasn't like HBO's top earner, The Sopranos. This show wasn't an hour long, and it wasn't used to entertaining an audience over long periods of time. So despite my fondness for the show, I was pretty hesitant at making myself feel too strongly about the film one way or the other prior to its release. The half hour format was going to have to somehow entertain an audience for two and a half hours (yipes). Obviously I started to question what qualities of the show would have to be sacrificed in order to make this movie work.
Would the story feel forced, or would we find ourselves watching a wonderfully executed film that kept the spirit of the show? I bring up this skepticism because yes, I did enjoy the show, but I wanted to show you I had some pretty high expectations. I have a bias towards the show, so I assure you the bar was set pretty high. I'm happy to report that Sex and the City - The Movie is the latter, and does a great job of truly making us feel like the show never really left.
Set four years after the end of the series, we rejoin Carrie Bradshaw and her significant other, Big. They're looking around the big apple for an apartment so they can move in together, but the penthouse Carrie has fallen in love with is pretty expensive. Big can see Carrie's happy with the place, so he makes her wish come true and agrees to get it for her. Because of the hefty price tag though, Carrie starts to feel bad and asks if it's the right thing for them to do since they're not married. Big has always been the kind of guy to do whatever would make his little princess happy, so he suggests that they get married.
Of course a lot has happened in four years with the other girls, too. Miranda is a workaholic and hasn't given her poor boyfriend Steve any horizontal polka in six months. He's a kind hearted man and the father of her child, but how long can a man go without any attention? With all the work Miranda is doing, he's feeling left out in every possible way. No conversations, no snuggle time, and no sex. Steve comes clean with Miranda, and admits that he had a moment of weakness. Miranda is infuriated that he slept with another woman, and separates from him. Her lifestyle as a workaholic has been burden enough, but now she has to deal with being a single mom on top of her hectic work schedule.
Charlotte has found peace in her life though! Her husband makes her happy, and they have a beautiful daughter they adopted some years ago. It was close to impossible for her to get pregnant on her own, but now we find her brewing a little miracle of her own. Things couldn't be better for Charlotte!
Between the balancing act that Miranda is playing with her family life, and the perfection Charlotte has found in hers, Samantha is gasping for air just from being in a relationship! She's moved in with her actor hunk Smith, who resides in California. He's busy more often than not, so she travels back and forth between New York City and LA to hang with the girls. The travelling starts to wear thin for Samantha, but so does her excessive desire for random sexual encounters. It's been bottled up ever since she decided to do the 'relationship thing'. She's always been the type of woman to go with the flow, and she's certainly never been one to be concerned with relationship boundaries. As long as she was able to get laid, she was on top of the world.
Her friends have always struggled in some way with love, so Samantha begins to wonder if love is something that's ever going to fit the lifestyle she's used to. She's been a good girl while she's been with Smith, but can she do this for the rest of her life?
The girls are all brought together for Carrie's wedding, one which happens to be even more posh than her new penthouse. Like a kid in a candy shop, Carrie can't stop pushing her luck to make her special day truly memorable. She's got everything except David Copperfield lined up, and Big is footing the bill.
Everything is going smooth at the rehearsal dinner until Steve shows up to try and reconcile with Miranda. It's too much and too soon for her, so she heads back into the party upset. She runs into Big, and without even thinking, tells him that he and Carrie are crazy to be getting married. The very next day, Big leaves Carrie humiliated and alone at the ceremony. Big decides after Carrie escapes in her getaway limo that he does want to get married, and goes after her to set things right and tie the knot. Humiliated beyond belief, Carrie vows to never see, or even talk to Big again.
Miranda feels guilty and wants to tell Carrie she thinks it was her fault that Big ran away on her wedding day, but the other girls decide that it wasn't a good idea for the time being. Carrie ends up in a slump, so they all decide to take a vacation to Mexico and let life go for a little while. After their vacation, things seem to be heading back on track again, until Miranda confesses to Carrie what she said to Big.
The character journeys start to spiral downward at this point. The latter half of the film focuses on the emotional journey each of the girls have to take in order to figure out what they want. Will Carrie ever give Big the opportunity to break her heart again? Will Miranda ever be able to give Steve? Will Charlotte ever get her chance to tell off Big? Will Samantha decide she's better off hooking up with any guy at random?
I was petrified when I heard what the length of this film was going to be. If I had to take a guess, I would have said the runtime wouldn't have gone over a hundred minutes. Again, we're talking about taking a fun, quick paced half hour formula and transforming it into a feature length film. Surprisingly, the two and a half hours are used well. The movie switches the stories up between our girls at a pace that seems to feel balanced, and even complement the style of the series as well. Take any concern you may have had about a glammed up film that forgot the essential roots that made Sex and the City so popular, and throw them out the window. This literally feels like an extended version of the show, and it never seems to drag.
The only true complaint I have about the film is that although it didn't drag for me, I have a history with the show. Anyone can go into this film and come out thinking they saw a really good romantic comedy, but I would think some of the films content would feel like filler to those not familiar with the show already.
For example, Samantha was always the one to bring the laughs, and the orgasms, to each episode. Seeing her debate over a life of love with a Hollywood hunk, or a life as a one night stand kind of woman, may seem unnecessary to some of the viewers. If you're familiar with the show, you would know that Samantha is a kinky woman, but always struggled with figuring out if a relationship was right for her. In the movie, she's with a man most women (I would assume?) would die to be with. She's living in Hollywood and she has everything handed to her on a silver platter. She's reached her peak, so where does her journey finally take her? This may not be something that a newbie to the storyline would consider to be required material without prior knowledge.
The movie itself starts four years where the story left off. The only recap we have is in the way of brief clips through the opening credits montage. Everything is easy enough to figure out even if you're not familiar with the source material. This film was made to be accessible to everyone, but a truly special treat for those who enjoyed the series.
To a lesser extent in the complaint department, the film could have been tightened up just a tad. Yes, the two and a half hour runtime seemed to fly by for me, but there were some moments that seemed a little gratuitous for the sake of showing the girls having fun. The humor in some of these unnecessary scenes was crude. I think Charlotte is a hottie, but her trip to Mexico had me re-evaluating that. It was because of an intentional gag for the film and nothing about her personally, but it was some scary stuff none the less. You'll have to watch the movie to see what I mean. We've seen some pretty outrageous hilarity like this in the series as well. The girls are just having a ball. Gratuitous to the overall story, yes, but we're not talking about a TV show we're going to turn on week after week for a half an hour at a time. This a major motion picture, so the film could have been a little tighter. On the other side of the argument, if these little gratuitous girl moments weren't in the film, would it have been a perfect emulation of the show? Probably not.
I can't comment on what made this film extended, but take into consideration that there's only three minutes tacked onto the runtime. It's a shameless way to promote an 'extended edition', and I absolutely loathe when studios do this. I'm sure these three minutes didn't really make much of a difference, and I'm sure a lot of people would be hard pressed to recognize the new material since the film is pretty loaded with context as it is.
Update - I've had the opportunity to check out the theatrical version of the movie. What I noticed for sure as an extended scene, was when the girls are putting on a fashion show for themselves to see what Carrie should toss out from her wardrobe. All the girls try their hand at fashioning a portion of Carrie's wardrobe. It makes the scene in the extended cut feel pretty bloated in comparison.
Despite the small amount of trimming that could have been done, Sex and the City stays true to the form of its source material. It really feels like another episode of the show. Most romantic comedies are dreadfully predictable and not worth a dime. It's the same formula every time, but with a different cast to promote it. Sex and the City - The Movie never goes down this route. This film may have some minor issues, but it embraces the same exact charm that made the show itself so successful.
This film is presented in 1080p with a VC-1 encoded transfer, at an aspect ratio of 1.85:1. The standard definition release looked pretty darn good, with some minor background noise to be seen as well as a little blocking. There are still some brief moments on the Blu-ray transfer during darker shots that display a little noise, but it's hardly noticeable and absent throughout most of the film overall. To be quite honest, I believe the noise is attributed to the film in those dark scenes, not the transfer itself. The colors pop vibrantly, bringing all the fashion and sights of the city to life. Every little detail can be seen with this transfer, almost to a fault at times, because let's face it; these girls aren't getting any younger. This is why I believe the minor noise that can be seen is from the film, and not an iffy transfer.
Overall those are the only complaints I have over the transfer, and they're very minor. The film looks much the way I would have imagined it would have. Everything looks very natural, even the skin tones. This isn't the best high definition transfer I've seen to date, but it's definitely very nice. The lack of being 'the best' transfer has more to do with the way the movie was filmed. There's not doubt the movie was given care during its VC-1 encoding process, it's just not a high tier title.
A lot of what's up on the screen is about dialogue, so neither the Dolby TrueHD 5.1 or Dolby Digital 5.1 tracks ever get a real workout. Instead, the mix is blended together in a way that makes you feel like you're at each location. You can hear the city buzzing around you, and you can hear the chatter around you at a party as if you were there. It's never overwhelming, and never drowns out the dialogue. The dialogue itself is clear without any hissing or distortion to speak of. The music that comes along once in a while is loud and proud, and the bass is incredibly full. So there is some dynamic range to speak of between the music and the rest of the film, and it's done very well. Bravo for a very natural and at times vibrant track.
You wouldn't want to listen to a Blu-ray in anything but Dobly TrueHD however, would you? Sex and the City isn't exactly a film that needs to have such a track. Again, the dialogue sounded fine on the Dolby Digital 5.1 track, and the music and surrounding effects were mixed together excellently. The Dolby TrueHD track provided, does make the music sound more full. The surround sound on this track is a little more enveloping here . Although the Dolby Digital track was sufficient enough, the Dolby TrueHD track adds tiny touches that accurately represents what I would imagine to be, the experience you would have heard at the movies.
For those who listen to films in other languages, you'll be fairly disappointed to hear there's no foreign language track. Nope, not even in Spanish. I don't know how HBO dropped the ball on this one. There is however a subtitle track in Spanish that's provided, but even this feels minimal in the subtitle department.
Unlike the standard definition set, all the features are on the first disc with the film itself. There's still a second disc included, although the only thing it contains now is the digital copy of the film. I'm sure that HBO would have tried to include the features on the second disc, as the purpose for this on the standard definition release was to make the digital copy less of a 'coaster disc'. They can't do that with Blu-ray yet though, as there are many people who lack a Blu-ray drive on their PC, and would be unable to access the digital copy.
Commentary by Director Michael Patrick King- What's disappointing right off the bat is the fact that Michael Patrick King is the only person commentating on this film! Why not bring Sarah Jessica Parker in to bounce conversation off of? An even better idea would have been to have the four girls get together and do their own commentary on top of this one. Truly disappointing.
Despite the fact that HBO dropped the ball on this one, Michael Patrick King isn't a bad listen. He truly cares about every little detail, from the script, to shooting, to the look of every set, all of it. When he speaks, he has a lot of insight and gives you a great deal of information. However, there are a lot of quiet moments as he's watching the film and waiting for the next thing to come along he can talk about. He's not a boring guy, but these silent moments are a perfect example of why somebody else would have been very useful in this commentary.
A Conversation with Sarah Jessica Parker and Michael Patrick King- Presented in high definition, the director sits down with Sarah Jessica Parker to discuss their thoughts about the film. Most of these sit downs usually fall short of being worthwhile in any way, shape, or form. However, this conversation feels very casual and full of friendly energy. If you're not one for listening to a films commentary, this is a nice twenty four minute substitution. Michael Patrick King doesn't bore, and we actually get input from Sarah Jessica Parker on this one, which I really thought should have been included for the commentary anyway. This is an enjoyable chat that doesn't feel like filler at all.
The Fabulous Fashion of Sex and the City- I'm surprised at how lengthy these features are thus far, as this one rings in at around eighteen minutes, and it's in high definition, too. You see a lot of behind the scenes footage and interviews with cast and crew. Of course, they're talking about the fashion choices in the film so I can't really appreciate the choice of a dress or a purse, but this seems to delve a little further than that. It's presented in a manner that's light, and shows a lot of the fun that went on while brainstorming how to bring the film to life via fashion. Everyone involved really tried to get into the mindset of the main characters to figure out what they would wear. As a man, I still don't quite understand why women have to think so hard about dressing up, but at least this feature can make me appreciate it a little more.
Additional Scenes with Commentary by Director Michael Patrick King- Watching the four minutes of footage that was cut from the film is pretty interesting. Normally this sort of a feature just makes me shrug my shoulders, and say 'well no wonder they cut that out of the film'. That's exactly how I felt after seeing these scenes first without commentary. However, Michael explains where these scenes would have fit in the movie, and he does a great job of making you understand his vision and what these particular scenes were supposed to accomplish. Unfortunately, this is not in high definition.
Fergie in the Studio- We get a two minute look at Fergie's experience in creating the theme for the film. We've got a pretty decent set of extras so far, but this definitely counts as filler material. I'm not really sure anyone cares about what Fergie thinks as far as this franchise goes, but you can hear it if you want. Meh. This feature is in standard definition.
Exclusive to the Blu-ray release, are two interactive features. The City lets you click around a map of New York City, so you can check out film landmarks and a lot of other factoids about the film that took place in the city. Dish It! is a feature that throws out some trivia for you to play with while you're actually watching the film. Both features are kind of neat, and some of the diehard fans may really appreciate their virtual Sex and the City tour around the big city, but these features feel like a lame attempt at trying to pull people towards buying the Blu-ray version of the film. Although extra features are good, I never found it to be a friendly practice to throw tiny extras on the Blu-ray version that aren't on the standard def counterpart. Some people may genuinely want to dabble in those features, and would buy the Blu-ray version... if they only owned a player.
As someone said during one of the special features, this movie is like the dessert after the main course. The show was done very well, and the film remained faithful to its style, characters, and story to a T. If you were a fan of the series, this is something you have to see. There's simply no question about it. Every character goes through a pretty significant arc, and with four leading ladies to follow, this could have been a pretty big mess with the wrong script. Thankfully everything was pretty evenly balanced. Character stories intertwine as they must, but never feel forced for the sake of doing so. The movie had a nice flow for everything it had to keep track of, and it was done in a way that surprisingly filled two and half hours very well.
Even if you're not familiar with the series, now is as good a time as any to start. You might appreciate everything going on a little more if you were armed with the full history of the show, but it's not a requirement. Besides, this is a romantic comedy that doesn't play by the same rules as the rest; it follows the rules that were set by the source material itself. I definitely recommend this film to anyone who's looking for a little laughter, a little drama, a little love, and even a touch of playful perversion in the mix. The girls are back, and hopefully, this isn't the last time we see them in a feature length film together.
The film itself deserves a high recommendation, but the Blu-ray release itself is lacking the obvious commentary everyone wants to hear, foreign language tracks are completely absent, and the tacked on filler material for the Blu-ray release is kind of disappointing. But with a very nice video and audio transfer, this should find its way into your collection if you're a fan of the show with no questions asked.
***The screenshots are not indicative of the Blu-ray transfer.