Despite my love for movies and an obsession for seeing films as soon as possible, I turned down an offer to see Sex and the City on opening night. Why? Because I didn't want to stay up until 3am surrounded by a bunch of screaming, crying, laughing women. Instead, I waited two weeks and went with a couple of my female friends - where they proceeded to scream, cry and laugh.
I, I'll admit, am one of the few straight guys who liked the television show. I never saw the first season, but saw every season after that, all within about a month's time span. I was, I'm pretty sure, one of the few straight single guys in the audience. There were one or two guys who had been dragged along with their girlfriends, and several more who were gay.
Now that the stage is set, I liked Sex and the City. Sure, it's a rambling movie, a long single episode or a shortened season shoved into two-and-a-half hours, a movie that requires you to already know the characters and care for what happens to them, for better or for worse. As a continuation of the series, it is the perfect denouement.
Sarah Jessica Parker, Kim Cattrall, Kristin Davis, Cynthia Nixon, Chris Noth and the rest of the cast have returned for this plus-sized adventure, and fans of the show will not be disappointed. Sex and the City has plenty of laughs, emotion, sex and so on and so forth. The mood and tone have carried over from the TV series, probably because writer/director Michael Patrick King has a long history as writer/director/executive producer of the TV show. The film really doesn't skip a beat.
Of course, this is mixed news to the standard professional critic and casual audience member. On its own, the movie is a massive epic of a romantic comedy, and romantic comedies aren't meant to be epic. Sex and the City is two and a half hours long and plays out more like a year in four women's lives rather than a concrete three-act story. The movie does have a beginning, middle and end, but the middle has so many random ups-and-downs and mini story arcs that the film doesn't appear to have a central focus at times. Those looking for a petite, streamlined romantic comedy should look elsewhere.
But Sex and the City isn't meant to be a streamlined romantic comedy, or stand on its own, or even be a romantic comedy. It's supposed to look at the lives of these four women, for better or for worse, no matter what they're going through. By definition, the stories have always revolved around their relationships and sex lives - hence the romantic comedy angle - but Sex and the City is not a romantic comedy by nature. And by sticking true to its theme and storytelling approach, Sex and the City delivers its fans exactly what they were craving.
Beyond that, the movie is actually very funny, or at least it consistently derives chuckles throughout. I, as well as the unlucky boyfriend who was sitting a row or two in front of me, laughed a lot throughout the film. Sure, there are some upsetting scenes with some major breakups that got the ladies crying, but being the insensitive guy that I am, I found those scenes pretty entertaining, too. While I never gave in to the emotional rollercoaster that is Sex and the City, because the ending is pretty predictable and I don't fall for things like that, I will say that the women took the movie with each rolling punch, bursting out in tears in the sad parts and bursting out in tears at the happy parts. Even unemotional me found the up-and-down stories engaging.
The only real problem with Sex and the City is the running time, which is ridiculously long for this kind of movie. Sure, King has plenty of stories to tell, but the film does lag in a few scenes. I'm not sure which scenes King should have cut, but there are a few places where the movie seems to get a little too far off topic, even for Sex and the City. Ultimately, every scene plays a role, but King could have condensed like all good screenwriters can.
Beyond an overly long running time, Sex and the City is an entertaining, fun and funny comedy that appeals perfectly to the show's fans and offers up enough jokes and emotion to please everyone else, too.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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