Sex and the City (2008) *1/2**

Rated: R
Runtime: 2hr 22min
Director: Michael Patrick King
Stars: Sarah Jessica Parker, Kim Cattrall, Kristin Davis, Cynthia Nixon
Genre: Comedy
Language: English

TV Wins This One

In a Nutshell

Plot

Straight as an Arrow
Twisty

Sound Quality

Easy to Hear
Incomprehensible

Who's That?

Few Main Characters
Lots

Naughty Words

Mild
Foul

Naked people

None
Lots

Violence

Tame
Bloody

If the movie had been cut in half, the writing polished and the product placement weeded out more than just a little, then we could have been left with an at-times touching story.

As it is we have two hours and 22 minutes (yes, two hours and 22 minutes) of an often slow, boring, laborious movie that at times challenges the brain to stay concentrated.

The story picks up where the well-regarded television series signed off four years ago, shows in which four women who will remain forever friends share their sexual and fashion experiences and fantasies, typically over lunch.

Most, if not all, the same faces are back, including the star, Sarah Jessica Parker, who plays Carrie Bradshaw, a New York City writer, and her three girlfriends, Miranda (Cynthia Nixon), Charlotte (Kristen Davis), and Samantha (Kim Cattrall).

Based on newspaper columns and a book by Candace Bushnell about girls who come to New York City in search of true love, the television series had the advantage of 30-minute segments that could wittily explore what those women at the next table were really talking about.

The problem for the movie, like so many before it, is that it fails to translate to the big screen, big time. The story line is too small and extended, for instance, and up THAT close, the magic and the intimacy (no pun intended) is lost. Sexual activity, on the other hand, is clearly on display, provided in good measure by Samantha’s neighbor at her fancy seafront apartment building in Los Angeles.

The film tracks the ups and down of each woman’s relationships, only one of which plots a straight line to success.

In the case of Ms. Parker, her troubles begin when Mr. Big (Chris Noth), her longtime on-again, off-again lover, makes an offer of marriage. Of course, the offer is dissected and assessed by all four women at a lunch get-together, and the excitement builds, dresses are bought and shoes picked out.

But it’s a long way to Tipperary, or the New York Public Library, in this case, where the ceremony is scheduled to be performed. That chapter comes to a roughshod end, although there are more chapters to follow, punctuated by multi- plugs for the likes of Prada, Louis Vuitton, Skyy vodka and Mercedes-Benz.

The movie was written, directed and co-produced with Ms. Parker by Michael Patrick King, who played a big role in the success of the television series.

This time, however, the two have stumbled, if not financially — the movie had taken in about $100 million as of this writing — then at least critically. There are parts of the film that do capture the human condition quite well, particularly a lonely New Year’s Eve when all seems sad and beyond repair. And the losses of broken relationships are depicted with some verity.

But it’s asking a lot of someone to sit that long for so little.

A lifelong journalist, Terence Neilan started his career in his home country, England, and then moved to New York in 1970. After a couple of years as an editor at The New York Post, he moved to The New York Times, where he worked as an editor and Website reporter for 29 years, retiring in 2005.

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