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Kyle Smith (Twitter: @rkylesmith) is critic-at-large for National Review, theater critic for The New Criterion and the author of the novels Love Monkey and A Christmas Caroline. Type a title in the box above to locate a review.

Buy Love Monkey for $4! "Hilarious"--Maslin, NY Times. "Exceedingly readable and wickedly funny romantic comedy"--S.F. Chronicle. "Loud and brash, a helluva lot of fun"--Entertainment Weekly. "Engaging romp, laugh-out-loud funny"-CNN. "Shrewd, self-deprecating, oh-so-witty. Smith's ruthless humor knows no bounds"--NPR

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    Review: “Sex and the City” the Movie

    By Kyle | May 29, 2008

    3 stars out of 4
    2 hrs 24 minutes/Rated R
    Kyle Smith review of “Sex and the City”

    The big-screen version of “Sex and the City” is a love story with a ruthlessly cynical subtext. When David Mamet wrote, “Love makes the world go round–love of gold,” he could have been reviewing the movie.

    Which is at about the same level of an average, though ridiculously elongated, episode of the series, with a couple of touching moments and the usual mix of sharp New York jokes and wheezing puns.

    Since all four of the girls begin the movie in long-term relationships–Carrie and Big are together, but she still has her own apartment; Miranda and Charlotte are still married (not to each other); and Samantha is the L.A.-based manager of her boyfriend, the David Beckham-ish actor Smith–the movie takes more time to get started than the four divas take getting dressed in the morning.

    Various breakups and attempts at reconciliation and personal growth will drive the plot, but for a good long stretch the movie keeps diving into its own shallowness and hitting its head on the bottom of the reflecting pool. That, plus some completely extraneous scenes–one in which the plot stops dead for everyone to visit a fashion show, another in which Carrie (Sarah Jessica Parker, who is also a producer on the project) tries on her pouffiest 80s outfits as the three lesser beings rule whether to keep them or toss them–means we’re in for one of the longest romantic comedies ever released in Hollywood. But it’s a movie about indulgence and catching up with old friends, and not many fans of the show will be checking their watches.

    At the start, the naked, panting moneylust is so extreme that the effect is as embarrassing as listening to your neighbors’ mating calls, or a Danielle Steel novel. Carrie and Mr. Big (Chris Noth) are shopping for apartments-but not just any apartment. It has to be a penthouse on Fifth Avenue the size of Yankee Stadium. Presented with this palace, what does Carrie do? She complains about the size of the closet. Other non-scintillating storylines include whether Samantha (Kim Cattrall) will succeed in winning an auction for a $50,000 ring. At times this is less a movie than a catalogue.

    The strangest situation is that of Miranda, who has been priced out of Manhattan and is living with her husband Steve and their kid in (ewww) lowly Brooklyn. But Miranda is the only one of the four women whose income depends entirely on her own efforts–she is a Harvard-trained corporate lawyer and could easily afford the kind of multi-million dollar home that the others acquire by attaching themselves to rich men. The movie seems determined to punish her for not fitting the fairy princess narrative of marrying way, way up. Later, she’ll be seen looking at cheap apartments in Chinatown, as though she were at the same income level as an immigrant.

    As Carrie heads toward marrying Big, she gets caught up in a girly fantasy. Vogue (personified by Candice Bergen as an editor) hires her to do a story on her own wedding, which means Oscar de la Renta is sending over a gown! They say a girl’s wedding day is the happiest of her life, but for Carrie, the highlight is getting a present from Vivienne Westwood. She also wants to hold the ceremony at the headquarters of the New York Public Library, supposedly because that’s where all the love stories are, but it’s hard to get around the idea that what she really craves is the status symbol value of the most lavish reception hall imaginable.

    To its credit, though, the movie turns Carrie’s value system, which equates “the two Ls–Labels and Love” to its advantage, and in the second half, when the girls run into various real-world difficulties the movie achieves a nice balance between comedy and drama.

    Jennifer Hudson, the Oscar winner from “Dreamgirls,” who shows up as Carrie’s Webmaster and wisdom-dispenser, is written in the same Magic Negro key as the archetypes once played by Will Smith and Morgan Freeman, but Hudson is a welcome addition, with her kind eyes, her soft voice and her practical approach to style: Her designer handbags are rented. (That the script dubs her Louise, from St. Louis, meaning Carrie calls her St. Louise, must be counted as overkill.) The Hudson character also sets up one of the movie’s best jokes, in which Carrie decides to watch “Meet Me in St. Louis” on New Year’s Eve.

    Writer-director Michael Patrick King hasn’t quite worked out the differences between TV and movies. The screenwriter William Goldman refers to the last half hour of a film as the time when we should be “gunning for curtain,” but “Sex and the City” keeps wandering away from its main storyline to subplots and subplots of subplots, such as one about a sudden weight gain about Samantha. (As usual, Samantha’s adventures are the gay-porn section of the movie, complete with a lengthy full-body shot of a hunky guy showering. His name is Dante–King heaves in a feeble pun about hell–but around the locker room he seems more likely to be known as “pepper mill.”)

    Flabby as his structure is, though, King does come up with plenty of witty lines, and when the women take a break from gawping at labels and make with the banter, things click into place. A joke about Charlotte’s suspicion of drinking the water in Mexico is well set-up and leads to a big laugh at an important point in the story, and Samantha’s idea of covering her nude body in sushi as a treat for her lover yields, “I got wasabi in places where one should never get wasabi.” Samantha’s zipping from coast to coast produces far too many shots of her making entrances and lots of ear-rattling squeals from Charlotte, but then again it does leave us with a classic Gotham zinger: “When was the last time you felt happy?” Samantha is asked. “Six months ago,” she says. Which sets up the response, “I think that’s normal for L.A.”

    Topics: Advertising, Comedy, Movies, New York City, Sex, TV | 9 Comments »

    9 Responses to “Review: “Sex and the City” the Movie”

    1. Hunter Tremayne Says:
      May 30th, 2008 at 1:48 am

      Thanks, Kyle, on behalf of straight men everywhere. One of us had to see it. Now the rest of us can kick back and wait for a movie we actually want to see, like THE DARK KNIGHT.

    2. Katie Says:
      May 30th, 2008 at 10:30 am


      That was a great review! And that’s a pretty big compliment coming from a die-hard fan like myself.

      I’ve read quite a few reviews that speak of the last 30 minutes of the film as “lagging,” and I agree. Though I loved seeing the girls again, I didn’t finish the film applauding like all of the women to my left and right. There was something about it.

      I wish they decided to do something a little more daring than “Most people don’t get happy endings…but all of these women do.” I suppose the subcontext of “Can Miranda trust Steve again?” sends the message that not all happy endings are cookie-cutter ones but still…I guess I expected something a little more daring than what I got.

    3. Katie Says:
      May 30th, 2008 at 10:42 am

      Adding to that: The show, to me at least, started as a tribute to single girls. It made the bold-for-its-time statement that women who do not get married are not as tragic as society – especially the southeast U.S. where I live – would live to think they are. But then the show ends with every woman in a relationship, which seemed to contradict its initial message.

      Then they come out with a movie. So I’m thinking, “Yes! This is their chance to take another stand!” Instead, it ends practically the same way the show did. Bah humbug.

    4. Christian Toto Says:
      May 30th, 2008 at 11:50 am

      There’s precious little romance in this “Sex and the City” – a bit is supplied by one subplot (the best part of the movie, frankly, and it involves Steve the bartendah) but the main love story is a dud. That’s a shame.

    5. Ilya Says:
      May 31st, 2008 at 9:32 am

      Hunter: I’m a woman, and you couldn’t pay me to sit through this thing. I’M going to see Indiana Jones this weekend.

    6. Yankeefan Says:
      May 31st, 2008 at 10:23 am

      >>>>2 hrs 24 minutes
      ‘Nuff said. I’d rather watch the Democratic Delegate Debate (which, pathetically, I am doing right now in an LA hotel room) or, better yet, go see “Ironman” or “Harold & Kumar in Gitmo” again.

    7. Dan Says:
      May 31st, 2008 at 1:10 pm

      Three out of four stars is waaay too generous for this stale rehash.

    8. John Says:
      May 31st, 2008 at 11:05 pm

      I can’t f*cking believe you let Andrea Peyser get a better review than you did regarding that POS, or did you? Did you write it and let her have it? “fess up. BTW, congrats on the baby and the anniversary

    9. David Says:
      June 9th, 2008 at 5:57 pm

      Well, I am waiting to get a quick shower and reading these reviews of a movie my wife insists that we go to see on a Monday. Her idea is that there is nothing on for a Monday and we can skip dinner and eat show food. Of all things and I need to lose 100lbs.

      Anyway, I thought I would write this PRE-Review. I sat and watched the TV series. I sat and watched the DVD of each show for the entire season since its a favorite of my wifes. And its something to do on a Monday.

      My wife perc’d up my interests when she told me she would be sneaking a bottle of wine in with her as well as assorted snacks in her DB $500 dollar purse, duffel bag duo. Knowing that the show does have some nude shots as well as scant clothed women does get my attention. As well as the wine and my wife are a winning combo.

      So, once we have made it through the movie, I hope that we see most of it, I will be back to finish this review for anyone interested.