How do you like your "Sex?"
"Sex and the City," that is. Formerly the provocative hit series on HBO, now a feature-length film with all the main players returning for an encore. Fans of the show waited eagerly for the next installment in the lives of Carrie Bradshaw (Sarah Jessica Parker) and her fabulous friends to open May 30, and spent more than $55 million to see it on opening weekend. Directed and written by Michael Patrick King, the movie brings back some of the show's former fabulousness, although the end result feels considerably less satisfying.
During the opening credits, Parker states (during a traditional Carrie voiceover, of course) that young women move to New York City for two reasons: "labels and love." Apparently, filmmaker Michael Patrick King thought these words would also bring female fans out the box office, as the movie doles out massive helpings of both.
The film opens three years after the series ended. Carrie and crew have each wound up in their own version of a committed monogamous relationship: Charlotte (Kristin Davis) and husband Harry are raising their adopted daughter Lily; Miranda (Cynthia Nixon) and hubby Steve fall into a stagnant marriage in Brooklyn; Samantha (Kim Cattrall) moves to Los Angeles to be with boyfriend Smith and manage his career; and, of course, Carrie and Big (Chris Noth, who seems a little emasculated this time around) are solidly together after 10 years, and they're considering tying the knot. Also sandwiched between the random plot line are a couple new faces, including Carrie's editor at Vogue (the woefully underused Candice Bergen) and Carrie's new personal assistant (played with naivety and sass by Jennifer Hudson).
When they're not practicing domesticity, the ladies are dealing with personal crises (and trust me, there are several). How do they cope? Well, they eat out, shop, take in fashion shows and jet off to fabulous vacation getaways. Is there any other way?
This is partially the "Sex" I wanted: glamorous and, admittedly, a touch superficial. I would be lying if I said a certain pair of electric blue Manolo Blahnik shoes didn't make my heart race. It's part of what I loved about the show: the ability to indulge in fashion I'll never be able to afford.
And yet, when stripped down, the film is an oversaturated version of what I've already seen. It's the series finale, part deux. It's an extension, not a reinvention.
Which leads me to my own internal conflict. If you've seen the trailers, you've seen the film (i.e. it only takes two minutes to tell this two-and-a-half hour tale). Part of me hoped for a little more meat: an unexpected shake-up, or a not-so-tidy story line with at least one character (the closest we come is a subplot involving infidelity, and I'm not talking about cougar Samantha, either).
It's hard to resolve, this feeling of "I want substance" and "I want the fairytale I know is coming." Because, let's face it, even the most cynical woman has, at least once, wanted her own "happily ever after."
So you can probably guess what happens to Carrie and company, and how it all ends (at least, until the studio comes calling for a sequel). For most people, that's probably all they want, anyway: an attractive, saccharine-sweet story to wash down with a Cosmopolitan. It's too bad they won't get just a little bit more.