Despite the fact that I've never owned shoes in the $500+ range and have never been a single and fabulous 30-something (or 40-something) New Yorker, I related to and loved the characters on Sex and the City. Every week I could count on seeing four women who placed a high value on their female friendships rather than tearing each other down (ahem, The Hills), who fought bravely against those who would look down on them for being unmarried, and who talked candidly about not just sex, but everything. Amidst hardship, lapses in judgment, and insecurities, they were smart ladies who had the understanding that life — even for the truly sophisticated — is no fairytale.
Some of these cherished characteristics translated well to the big screen version and I'm so thankful for that. But I'm also a bit mystified by how far it strays at times from the very aspects I loved so much. I wish I could say that it's a witty and modern take on the meaning of love and friendship for middle-aged women (and women approaching middle-age). Instead, the film is at times a fun fantasy, but it's not the Sex and the City I remember.
To see what I totally enjoyed about seeing these women back together and what struck a false note,
The first third of the film has a lot of the good stuff from the series: it's irreverent, funny, absurd, intelligent, and full of sharp insights into marriage and being single in your 40s, all the while poking fun at its own universe. Then, slowly but surely, the movie veers into some strange territory and the women start taking themselves and their designer bags way too seriously, and everyone loses a normal dose of perspective.
Bravo to the writers for taking a risk with some genuinely dark moments (a necessity for a feature-length film, and this one is lengthy at over two hours) but even so (without giving away too many details, I promise you), nothing is so bad that any character should ever seriously utter the line, "Will I ever laugh again?" Even Miranda, who could always be counted on for some snappy, cynical retorts that zap her friends back to reality is morosely silent for most of the film. I really liked how strong Miranda was in the series, and in the movie it's like she isn't given enough words. It's so disappointing.
That said, you will probably laugh at some hilarious moments, and you might even cry. Your heart will likely race with the excitement of seeing all of these characters together again and will revel in the exhilarating fact that they're here, living their lives as if they'd never left us. But there are many moments where everything just feels forced and lackluster. Of course there's an emphasis on couture and living the high life in New York, which is sometimes glamorous but mostly just rings empty. We're not all "looking for labels and love," actually. We want to laugh, we want these ladies to give at least some kind of voice to our modern hopes and fears and we definitely do not want to be pandered to.
My bottom line: For each moment of applause and laughter at my screening, there was an equal amount of groaning and eye-rolling. It succeeds in that it's not a disaster and I'm glad I saw it. It fails in that it isn't really a movie, it's a season of SATC smooshed together, and compared to the other seasons, well, they've done a lot better.
Photos courtesy of New Line Cinema