Sex and the City (**)
Sex and the City used to be a good show—a fact that faded further from view during its last few seasons, and of which the movie version seems terrified to remind us too often. This goodness was not rocket science. People liked the show’s four strong female leads, their unblushing attitudes toward sex, and especially the way they talked with each other: an assortment of bons mots, ribald neologisms and frank, sisterly advice. Sex and the City was always a fantasy, but its characters had authenticity. They wanted irrational things; were driven to absurd, humiliating lengths in pursuit of them; and were usually made to face, in the series’s perpetual moral, some form of compromise.
Carrie Bradshaw’s desire in the movie version of Sex and the City is nothing short of marriage to jerky capitalist Mr. Big—and it’s all wrong. The problem is not that the wedding she aggressively plans in the movie’s first half-hour thwarts her, but that this thwarting is only temporary. Humanity and equilibrium are missing from this particular rendering of Sarah Jessica Parker’s faux-feminist character; writer-director Michael Patrick King (who also wrote and directed for the show) either has her blithely indulging her own happiness via designer shopping sprees and redecorating schemes, or all ashen-faced and pouting about being jilted. (When she says, in response to someone mistaking her for Big’s new wife after he deserts her, “That was like taking a bullet,” one only wants to chortle, or perhaps puke.)
Kim Catrall’s Samantha and Kristin Davis’s Charlotte have little to contribute to the unfolding Cinderella story, other than to provide brief reminders of the series’s penchant for gross-out humour. Cynthia Nixon’s Miranda does her part in this respect as well, though thankfully she does a bit more, functioning, as she always has, as a voice of pragmatism, intellect and principle. It seems futile to wish this frivolous film were about her, for then it would have to deal with a working woman raising a kid in Brooklyn with a guy who makes less than her—instead of an indolent, whiny Manhattanite who finally lands that rich husband who’ll pay all her bills at Blahnik’s.
Sex and the City is now playing at the Beach Cinema (1651 Queen St. E.), Scotiabank Theatre (259 Richmond St. W.) and SilverCity Yonge-Eglinton Centre (2300 Yonge St.).