Considering that its core concerns are boy problems, clothes, and shoes, Sex and the City gets a surprising amount of post-feminist cred. And while Sex definitely marked a turning point in TV getting good again, any women's liberation that came from having age-old salt-of the-earth girl-talk televised on cable was canceled out by its characters' either relentless pursuit of "the one" or their cartoonish avoidance of him. Did Sex and the City's characters share intelligent, candid advice about the important career decisions that must surely be made by these strong, independent women who make daily pit stops at Louis Vuitton? Nah, just dick talk.
The people behind Sex and the City's move to the big screen know the sticking point of the show's appeal is in the wardrobes. The first half of the Sex movie is pure stuff porn, from an orgiastic couture wedding gown bonanza (see the current issue of Vogue for the still-life version), to a greatest hits and misses montage of the wardrobe of Carrie Bradshaw (Sarah Jessica Parker, in case you've been living in a hole—or Brooklyn, mwah!), to giant piles of bags from astronomically expensive stores that the characters seem to amass on an ongoing basis. And don't forget the little guys: Vitamin Water, the iPhone, and L'Oreal mascara all aggressively have their precious moments.
The opulence of it all—from Carrie's borderline deranged designer ensembles, to the fairytale New York apartments and LA condos, to the $65,000 diamond rings, to the spur-of-the-moment decisions to "just to redo your whole place" and "hire people to do all that"—make it somewhat difficult to keep up with Carrie, Samantha (Kim Cattrall), Charlotte (Kristin Davis), and Miranda (Cynthia Nixon) as they pull faces through the entire spectrum of Girl Problems, most of which are still Boy Problems. Remember when Carrie had to use her credit card to buy tomatoes because she'd spent every penny on Jimmy Choos? Let's just say that Choos are the new tomatoes, and the distance between us, along with my ability to relate to her, has grown.
One has to give props, however, to the magnitude of it all. The delivery of the film's promise can't really be denied: The Sex and the City movie is a whole lot of Sex and the City, an epic smorgasbord that covers every type of girl problem, a couple of friendship problems, borderline pornographic sex scenes, corny one-liners, gratuitously sappy romantic moments, Samantha calling at least one guy a "dickhole" to his face, and Mr. Big (Chris Noth) getting bitch slapped by a bouquet of roses (kind of hilarious). In short, and as advertised, it delivers the big-budget, steroid enhanced, ultimate Sex and the City mind clobber.
The emotional spectrum is only matched by the sartorial. Patricia Field is given the ultimate costume design wet dream, with a script that spans the seasons of New York, California luxury, resort wear, and even a Vivienne Westwood fashion show. It's an impressive quantity, but not the tour de force I expected, and too big-label slutty. There were, however, some shoes I'd consider selling the farm for, and occasional sparkling outfits.
Despite whatever self-conscious gripes I have with Sex, it's still the only female audience-directed blockbuster film in sight, and for that, I have respect. (It'll no doubt do astoundingly well at the box office and drive sales of the series' box sets.) So to pull a Carrie Bradshaw, and end on a question: Can we still appreciate Sex and the City, even if breaking new ground in post-feminist Hollywood is an exercise in mainstream convention?