"I can't believe we're paying to see something we get on TV for free! If you ask me, everybody in this theater is a giant sucker!" - H. Simpson
Depending on who you believe, I apparently started my wife into watching Sex and the City years ago, whereas I think she started watching it on her own, as I was busy watching other quality programming on HBO. And when the show ended in 2004, probably a year or two too late, lots of people drank Cosmopolitans and wore nice shoes in tribute. Following several years, where the girls split up and went their separate ways, they came back, after some rumored salary hedging by some of the cast. So can Carrie, Charlotte, Miranda and Samantha really come home again, this time in front of a moviegoing audience?
This edition of Sex was written and directed by Michael Patrick King, who was the producer of the televised series. The movie finds the characters in several different areas. Miranda (Cynthia Nixon, The Manhattan Project) is still living with Steve and their son Brady in Brooklyn while she continues to work as a lawyer. Charlotte (Kristin Davis, Deck the Halls is married to Harry and the two have adopted a young girl. Samantha (Kim Cattrall, Police Academy) is in Los Angeles and serves as the publicist for her longtime boyfriend Smith. And Carrie (Sarah Jessica Parker, The Family Stone)? Well, she is still writing, and still flirting with the idea of marrying Mr. Big. Things seem good in the big world, right?
Wrong. Big (Chris Noth, Law and Order) buys Carrie an apartment, and the couple finally, after many on again, off again periods, decide to get married. If I can go off topic for a second, why is Carrie even still talking to this guy? After many a disappointment, you'd think that she would have gone for Aidan before that character went off the rails, but there's got to be some sort of issue there. Anyway, because it is a wedding featuring the famed Carrie Bradshaw, the New York fashion mob families band together to throw her a bash like no other, and because Big is still Big, he decides to no show the wedding. With a honeymoon trip still in hand, Carrie decides to use it, and takes along the girls. Miranda had recently found out Steve had cheated on her, so she has that going for her. By comparison, the relationships Miranda and (gasp!) Samantha have seem worry-free, but with the band back together, there's some jocularity on the horizon. And about an hour left of a two and a half hour film.
Now, the show seemed to focus on the group dynamic among the women, and their post-game analysis of any man they seemed to be with, before some of the women eventually moved into the monogamy mold, and into relationships, so venting about those relationships was a given. With that said, there's still very little bonding between the girls, and more literally, very little sex. In some cases (Charlotte and Harry) it's not really a problem, but Samantha is the one who can usually be counted on in this category, and instead she spends some time trying to figure out how to make her relationship with Smith work out. But there's still an urge to put her in some sort of funny situation, which even for a two and a half hour film feels a little bit forced. Within the bigger picture, I can understand that the film is less about the sex and the comedy a bit and focuses more on the relationship side of it, but trying to spend some time on the comedy and on the emotion results in some clunky components of the film. The big scene that Miranda has is kind of funny and harkens back to some of the old elements of the show that made it enjoyable; Charlotte's big laugh scene was more straight out of American Pie than anything else.
Well, the film made over $150 million domestically and almost $400 million worldwide, presumably guaranteeing a sequel. If I can be allowed to give some advice to King, Parker, et al, I'd suggest maybe going the full leap into a little more dramatic area. The girls aren't in their 20s and 30s anymore; it's time to start playing the cards that they've been dealt, one way or another. Heck, even Kevin Smith had Clerks II. Also, trim the length of this thing down. I know the show is more than established for its clothes, shoes, hair, etc., but some of these montages that show it off were a little longish, and non-fashion montages were unnecessary. The film shows the seasons pass, summer into fall, fall into winter. It was only slightly faster in the film than in real life, but I guarantee you it was a photo finish.
When I got done watching it, my wife made the point of saying that people wanted to see the show (to some degree), so that's what the film does. Maybe so, but the women are at different points than they were when the television show ended; it's only fair to discuss and ponder those positions on screen, if you're going to do it right. At the end of the day, Sex and the City: The Movie is too long for its own good and touches on some of what made the show great, while hardly making anything else all that memorable.
Presented in 1.85:1 widescreen using the VC-1 codec, Sex and the City arrives in an unrated extended version which is about five minutes longer than its theatrical sister, and appears to comprise some slightly longer scenes. I couldn't tell any difference in the extended footage from the theatrical stuff, mainly because I didn't see the film in theaters (my wife's laughing helped me figure out what was new), but the film looks good. Frankly, I thought I'd see a lot of image softness, but the image looks sharp and image detail is pretty substantial. The scene where Carrie is in front of the mirror crying, you can see the red around and in her eyes. When Samantha hands her an iPhone, you can make out some of the text on it. Blacks are very deep and provide a fine contrast, and other images where you expect the fashion to stand up for itself are reproduced rather vividly, there was yellow dress Samantha wore that looked great too. All in all this film looks good, as it's supposed to.
You get a choice of TrueHD and Dolby Digital 5.1 surround tracks for the disc, which defaults to the DD mix and plays the feature straight upon loading, a minor inconvenience. With that said, the TrueHD soundmix is decent, providing a capable soundstage for the run of the film. Either dialogue was recorded on the soft side, or I'm not used to seeing a film with girls on my home theater, because I had the volume turned up a little more than I'm used to. But the film sounds excellent, sound effects and the film's songs are crystal clear to go with the dialogue, not to mention speaker panning and directional effects are effective when called up. Sex and the City has always sounded good, and this feature film on high definition is no exception to that.
King contributes a commentary for the film. While it's a disappointment the stars couldn't do a track, or contribute to this one, King is full of information. He talks about the challenge of writing the film while keeping the series storylines moving, and talks about scenes that he cut out. He also covers the symbolism of some of the scenes, and what the fashion meant in them, while recalling some anecdotal information on other scenes. While it seems to lose a bit of steam in the last third or so, King has tremendous recollection of the production, and it's quite an informative track. Following that are four deleted scenes (3:53), which can be playing with optional commentary by King. Aside from one humorous scene with Samantha, these are forgettable. The big extra is a conversation with King and Parker (23:50), as they share their thoughts on the series and the film, and discuss certain scenes from the film. The fashion choices are also discussed here, and the character dynamics are flirted with as well. For lack of cast participation this was decent. "The Fabulous Fashion of Sex and the City" (18:04) is a chance for costume designer Patricia Field to talk about the fashions of the show and the characters, what the larger meaning they are for the fashion world, and some fashion house representatives cover what the show means to women in general. The cast does appear here to talk about their thoughts on the fashion, and coming back to it now after so much time. This is definitely a piece for the clothes horse (or filly) in your life. Some footage from the musician Fergie as she recorded the song for the film is next (2:11), but there's nothing to really see here. Two exclusives to the blu-ray disc follow, the first is a subtitled trivia track, and the second is an interactive map of some of the locations that the film shoots at, both of which are innocuous supplements at best. Wrapping things up is a digital copy of the film, housed on a second disc.
Sex and the City: The Movie is nice to see, if for nothing else because seeing the band back together for the first time in awhile is charming. But when you get to the movie itself, it's long, poorly paced and more than a little predictable. The technical qualities of the disc are nice, but the supplements are a little bit weak and not all that user-friendly. I'd suggest that for those who really love the franchise, this might not be the thing to add to your collection, and if you haven't seen it yet, give it a rental before considering whether or not to buy it.