Mediocre 'Sex'

Confession time: I used to whine when my girlfriend made me watch Sex and the City with her every week. But underneath all the whining (which seemed like the cool thing to do), I kind of liked the show. I used to watch it when she wasn't around, and I was hooked.

Also, I've harbored a bit of a crush on Sarah Jessica Parker since I was 14 and watched her on the short-lived sitcom Square Pegs. I think she's beautiful, and Maxim magazine can go to hell.

Time for another confession: As I sat down to watch this movie with a friend who is an intense Sex and the City fan, I was doing the whole whining routine again while secretly kind of, sort of, looking forward to it. Was Carrie (Parker) going to marry Mr. Big (Chris Noth)? Is Charlotte (Kristin Davis) still unspeakably cute and scared of naked men sitting on her white sofa? Is Samantha (Kim Cattrall) still gross and full of herself?

As it turns out, the film isn't quite up to par. At nearly 2 1/2 hours, it drags at times, and while the show was witty and intelligent, the humor gets sophomoric in the movie. For fans, there's plenty to like and root for, but for the average movie viewer, getting through Sex could be a task.

Carrie and Mr. Big are still dating. They've found a big new apartment, and they've started exploring the possibility of marriage. Samantha has moved to Los Angeles with her younger, superstar boyfriend (Jason Lewis), yet she makes frequent trips (seemingly everyday) to Manhattan for nights out on the town. Charlotte remains married to Harry (Evan Handler), and they've adopted a child, while Miranda (Cynthia Nixon) finds herself entering a marital crisis.

The first half of the movie focuses on Carrie's preparations for her wedding to Big. This paves the way for a cute scene in which she models wedding dresses for a magazine shoot. One of the things Sex has going for it is that it's a nice showcase for designer clothes. In the transition to the big screen, its impeccable fashion sense has remained intact.

While the plot featuring Carrie and Big is intriguing, the Samantha storyline is a bore. I am not the biggest fan of Cattrall and her character's affected speech pattern. I think writer/director Michael Patrick King could've cut the movie's running time in half if he'd demanded that Cattrall speak at an average human's pace. Her voice grates on me, to the point where I couldn't give a damn what's going on with her character.

Actually, had Cattrall continued her contractual standoff that delayed this movie and chosen to abstain from Sex, I think the movie would've been better off. I know that statement will send Sex fans into a frenzy, but I have to be honest.

Meanwhile, Charlotte's storyline focusing on motherhood is adorable. Davis has to perform a funny moment involving digestive distress, and she pulls it off with flying colors. Nixon's chunk of the movie, involving marital troubles with the meek Steve Brady (David Eigenberg), is handled well. I liked Eigenberg's shaky charm on the show, and he brings all of it to the movie.

Noth has a lot of fun returning to the Big character. He has some genuinely romantic moments with Parker, and he remains a charming screw-up. Despite all of the movie's inconsistencies, I did care how the couple would end up.

I can't really recommend this film unless you are a diehard fan, and you think Samantha is the best. Cattrall made too much of this movie a bad time for me, but if you get off on her stuffy routine, you'll be just fine.

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