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May 31, 2008

"Sex" glitters and shines

by Alisa Lu, Online News Editor
When "Sex and the City" finished its six-year run on HBO in 2004, all four major characters finally had their happy endings. Set four years after the series finale, the much-anticipated movie adaptation of "Sex and the City" follows the lives of the four women and explores their seemingly perfect lives. Packed with the same wit and the huge repertoire of designer labels, the movie continues the drama from which the series left off with more emotion and an even more outrageous and exciting wardrobe.

Carrie (Sarah Jessica Parker) opens the movie with a narration that sums up the past four years. At first glance, Carrie, Miranda (Cynthia Nixon), Samantha (Kim Catrall) and Charlotte (Kristin Davis) all seem to be living out their picturesque lives. Carrie and Big (Chris North), whose real name is revealed to be John James Preston, become engaged and Carrie tries to plan the perfect wedding while they move into their gorgeous Fifth Avenue Penthouse. Charlotte lives her fairytale life with her husband (Evan Handler) and adopted daughter and even finds out that she is pregnant, despite her "reproductively challenged" status. Samantha has moved to Los Angeles to further the career of her boy toy-turned-boyfriend Smith Jarrold (Jason Lewis) who she, surprisingly, is still committed to after four years. Miranda (Cynthia Nixon) remains content with her husband Steve (David Eigenberg) and son after leaving Manhattan for the less-than-glamorous Brooklyn.

Sex and the City

(released May 30, 2008)
Charlotte (Kristin Davis), Carrie (Sarah Jessica Parker), Miranda (Cynthia Nixon) and Samantha (Kim Catrall) reunite in the big screen adaptation of the hit HBO series.
<i>Photo courtesy of New Line Cinema.</i>
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4 stars
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Carrie (Sarah Jessica Parker), Charlotte (Kristin Davis), Miranda (Cynthia Nixon) and Samantha (Kim Catrall) continue their search for fairytale endings and fabulous clothes. Photo courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures.
Unfortunately, reality soon sets in. Miranda and her husband Steve go through a rough patch and break up after he cheats on her. Big leaves Carrie at the alter after he gets cold feet and Samantha realizes she is losing herself by always putting Smith ahead of herself. Charlotte seems to be the only truly happy one who faces no challenges in her quest for her happily-ever-after. Will Samantha, Carrie and Miranda ever find eternal happiness?

Through thick and thin, through the good and the bad, one thing will never change – the ever-stylish dress of the four leading ladies. The most important person in the making of the movie isn't director Michael Patrick King or even any of the four main actors – it is costume designer Patricia Fields. Known for creating trendsetting ensembles and using scores of big-name designers, Fields manages to outdo herself on the big screen. After turning Manolo Blahnik and Christian Louboutin into household names, Fields creates a wardrobe that would be a fashion maven's Mecca. In typical Fields style, even the piece-de-resistance in the film, the breathtaking Vivienne Westwood bridal gown Carrie wears before being jilted by Mr. Big, is complimented with an outrageous green bird perched on the veil.

But underneath all the Prada and Dolce and Gabbana ensembles, the actors' talents remain undiminished. Parker, nowadays known more as a fashion trendsetter than for being an actress, proves her acting chops as Carrie goes on an emotional rollercoaster ride thanks to the handsome and caring but flawed prince charming known as Big. The ever-elusive Big is played perfectly by North, who manages to be charming yet aloof at the same time. Miranda's Type-A personality is captured by Nixon, who also manages to portray Miranda's vulnerabilities. Davis is always happy, cheery and bubbly as the optimistic Charlotte. Samantha, ever the cougar, is hilariously portrayed by Catrall.

Though the movie is much more dramatic and serious than the series, the signature wit and charm of the series still remains. The risqué dialogue and ironic situations reminds viewers just why "Sex and the City" was so great - apart from the fabulous clothing, of course. In one memorable scene, Charlotte has an "accident" because she refuses to eat anything but American-made pudding at the five star Mexican resort for fear of food poisoning. The beautiful shots of Mexican resort are breathtaking but the shots of Brooklyn Bridge and Manhattan are even better - explaining why these four women, like millions of others, fell in love with New York.

Regrettably, the movie tried to do much. Cramming one year of events into little more than two hours left storylines incomplete and undeveloped. Many supporting characters, such as Charlotte's husband or Carrie's gay friend Stanford Blatch (Willie Garson), only appear in two or three despite being prominently featured in the series. Perhaps the most glaringly undeveloped storyline was that of Louise from St. Louis (Jennifer Hudson). Hudson, fresh from her Oscar win, had a character that popped in and out of scenes without ever having a stable storyline.

But for those who religiously followed "Sex and the City," the overcrowded plot will not matter. The plethora of designer clothing, the risqué dialogue and Fab Four's continual friendship will satisfy any "Sex and the City" fan. The only downside for the fans: returning to their mundane lives and closets after the credits start rolling.

"Sex and the City" (148 minutes) is rated R for strong sexual content, graphic nudity and language. Now playing everywhere.



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