"An overstuffed piñata of a movie, a groaning buffet. A banana split on top of a hot fudge sundae!"
"I didn't know what to put on, so I put on everything" … "Too much of a good thing is never enough" … "Nothing succeeds like excess."
These quotes, from Mae West and Oscar Wilde, seem wildly appropriate in regard to the movie version of "Sex and the City."
This is an overstuffed piñata of a movie, a groaning buffet, a banana split on top of a hot fudge sundae. It's very long for a comedy. It's even long for "War and Peace." Is it bad? Is it good? Both.
If you loved the HBO series, you'll be prostrate with joy over the big-screen version. If you never "got" it, you'll run screaming into the night.
Michael Patrick King has written and directed a much more sentimental take on the original material. Not that there isn't plenty of bite, but the movie is aimed square at the tear ducts, and as much as you may want to fight it, you can't. It's brilliantly manipulative. It also keeps jumping the shark, in that it has several endings. At times, even the rabid fans at the riotous Radio City Music Hall premiere seemed to be getting a bit restless.
But just when you think, "OK, enough …" there's a great piece of physical business, or a very funny line, or some moment that — damn it all! — gets you improbably misty-eyed. (Miranda and Steve on the Brooklyn Bridge — I heard audible sobs, I kid you not.)
Sarah Jessica Parker (Carrie), Kim Cattrall (Samantha), Kristin Davis (Charlotte) and Cynthia Nixon (Miranda) are all splendid. Rest assured there are no radical personality alterations. Each remains true to the characters created by Candace Bushnell on the HBO series.
Miss Nixon has by far the most difficult task. Her Miranda was always the prickly sticky wicket; acerbic, cynical and unbending. She takes that to the limit here.
I won't give up plot details, because I think fans will want to be totally surprised. But there are few men who would take what David Eigenberg (Steve) takes from Miranda.
I guess that's the point, however. "Sex and the City" addicts wouldn't feel satisfied unless Steve suffered. Or if Charlotte didn't get her every heart's desire. Or if Samantha lost her wandering eye. And yes, of course, Cattrall has a nude scene. An impressive sight, still. (Impressive male nudity is featured as well.)
We Like Carrie Miserable
For sure, nobody would be happy if, from beginning to end, Carrie Bradshaw was happy. Sarah Jessica Parker and her Mr. Big, Chris Noth, tango through a roller coaster of emotional situations. Try to look away. Sorry, impossible. (Noth, photographed in chilly corpse-like tones for his "Law & Order" chores is ruddy and handsome in "Sex and the City.")
As she was from the beginning, Sarah Jessica Parker remains the heart and soul of "Sex and the City," the true-blue glue who holds her girlfriends close to her heart, and the remarkable actress who can persuade you that "Sex and the City" is not just about four women in good clothes, ripping off zippy one-liners and dealing with men, those heartless beasts.
Parker is a cultural icon. She is not beautiful. She is not even, a great deal of the time, pretty. But she is the prime example of charm and intelligence sweeping aside every superficial requirement for a glamorous leading lady. The quality of her voice, her expressive face, her warmth and humanity; all that she brings to Carrie is all that she is as a person. Audiences sense she is not faking it. Women love her. Not the way they "love" the usual idiots on the red carpet, they really love her.
Jennifer Hudson — Didn't Work
The new "Sex and the City" girl is Jennifer Hudson, thrown in as Carrie's assistant. It doesn't work. It looks like somebody thought, "It's always been such a white show, let's bring in an ethnic ... how about Oscar-winning Jennifer Hudson?" Hudson's subplot is awkward and unconvincing.