TV's fashionable female friendships thrive on the big screen -- and do a lot of shopping.
"Sex and the City" is to chick flicks what Mount Everest is to hills.
Based on the popular television show, this film comes fortified with enough estrogen to transform the Patriots into the Rockettes.
Yours truly has never seen so much clothes shopping on film in his movie-viewing life. The movie makes "The Devil Wears Prada" look like "The Devil Wears Knock-offs from Filene's Basement."
So is the film any good? Does it matter? Fans of the TV show will feel like they've died and gone to heaven, or better yet, the mall. Women who love fashion will drool at all the designer names. Then there are all the outrageously handsome men to ogle with plenty of tight buns on display and even a quick glance at an Italian hunk's ample manhood.
And no relationship issue goes unexplored. Marriage, pregnancy, infidelity, reconciliation. The film is basically a 21/2-hour soap opera with the suds supplied by Estee Lauder.
Writer-director Michael Patrick King, who wrote and directed episodes of the TV show, makes his film debut here and clearly follows the philosophy of nothing succeeds like excess. He clearly likes to show couples having sex. Hey, look at the film's title. But it's not just humans copulating repeatedly. He shows a dog getting it on with a pillow over and over again. The joke may have been funny once, but by the sixth time, I was ready to mangle the mutt.
King also adds on plot after plot. The main one focuses on Carrie Bradshaw (Sarah Jessica Parker), who looks like she's finally going to marry Mr. Big (Chris Noth). The impending union gives Carrie an opportunity to go apartment hunting, and she naturally ends up selecting a Manhattan penthouse suite with a price tag larger than the gross national income of a few countries. When she discovers the closet is too small, Mr. Big builds her a bigger one. "Her closet is larger than my apartment," said one of my colleagues at the screening.
Better yet, Carrie is chosen to be the subject of a Vogue cover story, giving her the chance to try on wedding gowns by every famous designer known to womankind. Vivienne Westwood kindly gives her one of her rags. Later, Carrie tries on more clothes as she decides which ones to take to her new apartment. Later, we get treated to a fashion show. Why? Who cares? We get to see more clothes.
The other plots have Miranda (Cynthia Nixon) dealing with marital woes, Charlotte (Kristin Davis) dealing with fertility woes and Samantha (Kim Cattrall) dealing with boy toy woes.
The four best friends come to each other's aid when hardship arrives, and it arrives frequently. Even friendship gets tested.
And just when you think the film already has enough story lines, King adds another one with the appearance of Louise (Jennifer Hudson) as Carrie's personal assistant. She's not wealthy enough to buy designer stuff so she rents it. Why is her character here? One might assume it's just a shameless attempt to draw in the black demographic. Or maybe we're supposed to see Louise, a young woman looking for love, acting as a foil to Carrie, an older woman looking for love. That must be it.
What makes the film tolerable for people who find fashion as fascinating as dental floss -- like yours truly -- is the acting and the snappy repartee. You don't have to have seen one episode of the TV show -- like yours truly -- to appreciate the camaraderie of the four lead characters. Off the set, matters haven't always been as chummy. Cattrall's money demands help explain why four years have elapsed since the show ended its run on HBO and the film's release.
And thank goodness Cattrall agreed to come on board because she provides the film with most of its humor. The majority of her best lines can't be mentioned in a family newspaper.
Other attempts at humor run the gamut from bodily function jokes to feminine hygiene jokes. The worst violation of good taste, however, takes place when a character reveals a gut. Only flat stomachs in this city.
Now, all this may strike some as incredibly shallow where consumption goes from conspicuous to ridiculous. All that's missing is Madonna's "Material Girl." But if one removes all the glitz and the glamour, the film serves as a paean to female friendship.
Think of the movie as a guilty pleasure or a way to live vicariously via the cost of a ticket. Depression-era audiences flocked to Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers movies not because of the plot. They wanted to see them dance wearing elegant clothes. Oh, and if they happened to fall in love by the final reel, that was good, too.
"Sex and the City" does come off as rather disingenuous by spending 141 minutes praising labels and the final minute extoling love. It wants to have its designer wedding cake and eat it, too. So? The fans will have seconds.