Sex and the City
New Line Cinema
Now Showing at: most major theaters.
Review by: Larry Thomas
With the release of the Tom Hanks-Meg Ryan film Sleepless in Seattle, the term “chick flick” was added to our American lexicon. It was used in reference to the 1957 Cary Grant-Deborah Kerr film An Affair to Remember, which was the inspiration for the later movie. Since then, guys generally use “chick flick” in a derogatory manner. Although some of the films referred to in that way deserve it, others really don’t.
Back in the day when the big studios were churning out fifty or sixty films a year each, and their female stars were as bankable at the box office as the men, these were generally referred to as “women’s pictures.” A really good one could be a smash hit for the studio that produced it. Think of George Cukor’s 1939 film The Women, which starred Norma Shearer, Joan Crawford, Rosalind Russell, Paulette Goddard, Joan Fontaine, and many others.
The movie version of HBO’s series Sex and the City is, in every sense of the word, a “woman’s picture.” It is about the city, and it’s definitely about sex, but it’s also about friendship, emotions, aging, families, work and romance. It’s also about fashion, which features some of the ugliest clothes to ever be seen on the screen. There’s enough information in the opening scenes about each of the primary characters that anyone who has never seen even five minutes of any of the series’ episodes is reasonably up-to-speed, and won’t feel left out.
Sarah Jessica Parker plays Carrie Bradshaw, who’s still involved with Mr. Big... Law & Order’s Chris Noth. Her friends are Samantha (Kim Catrall), Charlotte (Kristin Davis), and Miranda (Cynthia Nixon). Each is either married or in a relationship. A new addition to the cast is Oscar-winner Jennifer Hudson as Louise, whom Carrie hires as her personal assistant. So there are enough characters, stories, and plot points for several movies. But writer-director Michael Patrick King keeps everything moving briskly, so that, even at nearly 2 and a half hours, it doesn’t seem long at all. The actors are all a pleasure to watch, and the performances are really good. The dialogue is funny when it needs to be... and often is... and poignant when that’s called for. And even better is that the principals are women who are not twenty-somethings, but are seasoned veterans of life... and sex... in the city.
Hopefully, the film is acceptable to those who could not get through a week without seeing each episode of the TV series, which ran for six successful years. Best guess is that you’ll like it even more if you’ve not seen the series. Regardless, when the film opened last weekend, it grossed its entire production budget in one weekend, and knocked Indiana Jones out of the number one spot, so a lot of tickets were sold to something that many industry pundits thought to be a risky undertaking. The cast and producers would have to be nuts not to be thinking “sequel” at this very moment.
And remember the previously referred-to film, The Women? It’s been remade with Meg Ryan, Bette Midler, Carrie Fisher, Eva Mendes, and several other contemporary names, and is planned for a September debut.
Maybe Hollywood is starting to discover that there’s more to selling movie tickets than by appealing to frat boys and sci-fi fans. And that would be a very nice change of pace.