Carrie Bradshaw (Sarah Jessica Parker) might be the most self-absorbed fictional character ever. And by “might” I mean she is, but I try to stay away from such stark absolutes.
Bradshaw is the perfect New Yorker in that she totally believes she is the center of the universe and the paragon of all things. She wants, and the world is there to grant her every desire; when all else fails she pouts until she gets her way.
The funny thing is that within the context of a half-hour television series, this attitude never reaches critical mass annoyance, because she and her three best girlfriends in the whole wide world are just that — annoyances — and their pettiness can be addressed and corrected in that tidy 25-minute format.
But as the first Sex and the City film proved, such behavior can be grating when extended beyond two hours. It’s like being stuck in a car on a long road trip with a bratty child. Or, in this case, times four and the only hope is to either ditch the car on the side of the road and simply walk away or speed up and ram into the nearest abandoned edifice and hope you die on impact.
I make these statements with sincere reservations because I understand the reaction I’m likely to receive from females who are fans of the show and the women of Sex and the City.
“You’re a guy, you just wouldn’t understand. The show wasn’t made for you. You’re just jealous because The Sopranos and The Wire haven’t been made into movies. You’re a hater.”
And I would like to acknowledge that there is some kernel of truth in these judgments, so let me set the record straight: I am a hater, a hater of movies that resort to corny network television sitcom gimmicks to generate laughs when there are opportunities for more sophisticated humor, which was a highlight of the original series because the gimmicks, especially as they are brandished here at gays and the plight of Middle Eastern women, can come across as painfully unfunny at best and disrespectful at their worst.
The brain-dead gay jokes at the opening wedding celebration for Stanford (Willie Garson) and Anthony (Mario Cantone) are beyond humorless, which is surprising for a series with writers who were always able to mix snarky bon mots that went down as smoothly as a perfect Cosmo. But more than that, the gay wedding humor failed to dig into the current cultural climate and the topicality of the moment, and that is a cardinal sin.
But the greatest offense of all has to be the desire to debase the honor and spirit of the series by turning it into an extended episode of the Bravo Real Housewives franchise. Carrie and Big (Chris Noth) have been married for two years and she’s worried about not being the perennially hip It Girl on the town.
Miranda (Cynthia Nixon) has forgiven Steve (David Eigenberg), but now she’s back to her tired workaholic ways (which are apparently boring to writer/director Michael Patrick King as well since he can barely be bothered to develop the subplot). Charlotte (Kristin Davis), after years of doing everything to conceive and adopt a child, now has her hands full with two kids and her non-bra wearing nanny (Alice Eve, who actually would have made for a nice transitional figure in the movie franchise if King had been thinking clearly).
And, well, Samantha (Kim Cattrall) is waging a war against aging as only she can.
Samantha works out a sweetheart of a deal thanks to a PR connection: an all-expense paid excursion to Abu Dhabi for the girls, where they can romp without their menfolk and pretend to be worry-free like it’s 1999 all over again. But the focus is on drama for drama’s sake where the pettiness and the one-dimensional natures of all the characters are laid bare and the neck-snapping corrections are less a sign of real growth than a need to wrap things up after the fake outrage and drama have approached epic length.
Saddest of all, though, is the sense that female fans of the show are going to march arm-in-arm to the multiplexes in their department-store faux finery and buy into the notion that this is a real continuation of the series that spoke to the dreams and desires of real contemporary women. But what King and his cast and crew have created here is as cheap an imitation of the HBO series as the knock-off dresses and shoes likely to be on parade for this tawdry affair. And that’s a real shame. Grade: F