Thursday, November 13, 2008


Fans of the HBO chick flick TV series "Sex in the City" (*** out of ****) won't find anything terribly surprising about the new feature-length film "Sex in the City" except that writer & director Michael Patrick King has refused to tamper with the surefire formula. King knows a thing or two about the characters that Sarah Jessica Parker, Cynthia Nixon, Kristen Davis and Kim Cattrall immortalized between 1998 and 2004 because he penned 22 episodes and helmed 10 of them. The big-screen adaptation of novelist Candace Bushnell's Cosmo-style characters who gossip about life, love, shoes, and sex in the Big Apple is a predictable, superficial, but fashionable exercise in materialism and narcissism. Our heroines deck themselves out in a number of outlandish, eye-catching outfits and celebrate the bonds of friendship even after adversity confronts them. Happily, nobody dies, contracts a life-threatening disease, or winds up in rehab for drug, spousal and/or alcohol abuse.

The worst thing about "Sex in the City" is that it is rather bland and its revelations won't hoist eyebrows. Occasionally, like its ground-breaking HBO series, this two-and-a-half-hour soap opera reminds us why it qualified for an R-rating with its nudity and sensuality. You'll get more than you bargained in this R-rated movie. When "Sex in the City" appears on DVD, you'll want to pause at least one close-up shot to check out some anatomical features.

As the story unfolds, Carrie Bradshaw (Sarah Jessica Parker of "Failure to Launch") and Big (Chris Noth of NBC-TV's "Law & Order") have just moved into a posh Manhattan penthouse. Carrie ignores to the real estate agent when he observes that the last two married occupants ended their relationship and their lease with a malicious divorce. She and her gal pals, Miranda (Cynthia Nixon of "The Pelican Brief"), Charlotte (Kristin Davis of "The Shaggy Dog") and Samantha (Kim Cattrall of "Star Trek IV"), attend a jewelry auction. It seems that a wealthy man locked his girlfriend out of their house, and she has decided to make their break-up an event by auctioning off all the pricey jewelry that he bought her. Sexaholic Samantha has flown into New York City for the event. She spends the bulk of her time managing her live-in lover, TV celebrity 'Smith' Jerrold (Jason Lewis of "Havoc") who plays a hunk doctor. The gals applaud Carrie's new digs, but they wonder what will happen to her if Big ever gives her the boot.

One night, Big and Carrie discuss their relationship in light of their new penthouse apartment, and the two decide to tie the knot. Everybody is overjoyed about Big and Carrie's wedding. Things start to go seriously wrong. Miranda is appalled when her husband Steve (David Eigenberg of "The Mothman Prophecies") informs her about a one-time only extramarital affair. Lately, not only has Miranda has been so immersed in her law practice that she neglected satisfying her own husband, but she also failed to keep herself trimmed so that she doesn't appear too hirsute in a bathing suit. Meanwhile, Samantha hasn't been getting enough of her hunky blond lover 'Smith' because of her late night TV shooting schedule. The frustrated Samantha finds herself behaving like a voyeur as she watches by their next door neighbor Dante (newcomer Gilles Marini) who beds babes on an apparent 24/7 basis. Finally, after adopting an Asian orphan, Charlotte discovers to her surprise and happiness that she has gotten pregnant. When the day of Carrie and Big's wedding at the New York Public Library comes, Big gets cold-feet, cannot contact Carrie, and abandons her. Naturally, with 250 wedding guests awaiting her triumphant moment, Carrie is furious.

Of course, everything works out in the long run. There is nothing either deep or philosophical about "Sex and the City." Carrie, Samantha, Miranda, and Charlotte do a lot of drinking and talking. After Carrie's disastrous wedding, she finds it difficult to recover. Samantha arranges things so that all four of them can go to Mexico where the newlyweds were supposed to vacation. Once Carrie gets back to New York, she hires an assistant, Louise (Jennifer Hudson of "Dreamgirls"), to help her unpack and move back into her venerable old apartment. Louise has come to New York after her own similar debacle in St. Louis when she couldn't marry her boyfriend.

Out of the four, Samantha's antics stand out the most, especially when she turns her body into a sushi buffet for her lover. On the other hand, Kristen's saga is the least compelling, except when he suffers from Montezuma's revenge in Mexico. Miranda comes off as the least sympathetic. Meanwhile, the men are relegated to the sidelines. The dialogue has its witty moments, particularly when Kristen pleads with her friends to substitute another word for 'sex' when they are around her impressionable Chinese daughter. Aptly, our heroines revert to code, and they refer to coitus as coloring with crayons. "Big likes to color outside the lines," Carrie boasts to her friends about their amorous adventures. Samantha's pet pooch provides some laugh-out-aloud moments with its randy shenanigans.

"Sex in the City" doesn't differ drastically from the award winning HBO cable series that spawned it. The more that Carrie, Miranda, Charlotte, and Samantha change, the more that this charismatic quartet remains the same.

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