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            This past weekend, Cinema Center was the most crowded I’ve seen it in a long time.  The big attraction was Sex and the City: The Movie.  It’s always exciting to see big crowds at Cinema Center, and I understand Cocoaplex was sold out.   But why this movie?  Most people in the area aren’t going to get all the New York references.  Most people in the area aren’t going to get all the fashion references.  Most people in the area do not get HBO, so they would not have followed the TV series (although DVDs and repeats on cable are always an option).  And many people in the area despise the characters’ attitudes toward relationships. 

What exactly is the connection between local audiences and Sex and the City: The Movie?  At first, I wrote the connection off as an Other.  The logic being that local audiences are nothing like the characters, they wanted a change of pace.  But seeing more and more eager faces at my desk told me that there was something that people legitimately liked about the characters.  For this audience, seeing Sarah Jessica Parker, Kim Cattrall, Cynthia Nixon, and Kristin Davis one more last time was like saying goodbye to a set of old friends. 

According to the concise montage that opens the movie, the series ended with the following (ignore this portion if you are familiar with the series):  Carrie (Parker) had found love with Mr. Big (Chris Noth), but their relationship was simply that they were lovers and nothing more.  Miranda (Nixon) was married to Steve (David Eigenberg) and living in Brooklyn with their son.  Charlotte (Davis) was married to Harry (Evan Handler) and living with their adopted daughter.  And Samantha (Cattrall) was in a steady relationship with movie star Smith (Jason Lewis) and living in Los Angeles. 

Over the course of Sex and the City: The Movie, three of the couples will break up.  Two will reunite.  There will be at least one wedding.  There will be at least one falling out among the group.  There will be an additional child in the mix.  I will not reveal anything regarding the rumors of deaths.  It certainly feels like someone could die.  The movie is like an additional conclusion to the series, there’s an atmosphere of finality about it.  For once, it all feels so important. 

Therein lies a big advantage of Sex and the City: The Movie over the TV series.  With the series, you know that nobody is going to die, or else there wouldn’t be a show.  On the other end of the spectrum, you know nobody is going to find true love right off the bat either.  Basically, you can safely predict that the show is going to do whatever it can to keep you watching more episodes.  But with the movie, all bets are off.  Gone is the cynicism of expecting the story to be inconclusive.  You can get emotionally involved in the storyline and not feel the need to kick yourself. 

The film even manages to introduce some new characters.  Carrie gets an assistant named Louise (Jennifer Hudson), who she dubs “St. Louise” partly because she’s a great assistant and partly because she’s from St. Louis.  Although a bit naïve, Louise’s youth and positivity remind Carrie that romance can be magical.  Hudson won an Academy Award for her performance in Dreamgirls, but this role makes no use of her greatest asset in her singing voice.  Hudson still manages to be a credit to the film.  Not such a credit is the puppy that Samantha gets while trying to take her mind off her hot new neighbor (Gilles Marini).  The dog has an obscene habit that is highlighted every time director Michael Patrick King wants to go for a cheap laugh.  It’s not the type of humor that the movie needs. 

Scatological gags aside, the plot of Sex and the City: The Movie is very well-done.  But audiences don’t love Sex and the City for its plot, they love it for its characters.  What is it about the characters that fans love so much?  If it’s their notorious immorality, we’re all in for disappointment.  I’ll be disappointed that fans of the show look at the characters as role models.   Fans will be upset that there is little if no partner switching in the movie.  Relationship talk still abounds, but it’s one relationship per character. 

Maybe the fans love the characters for their fashion and their concentration on (some would say obsession with) fashion.  So often on the show there are lines like, “Nobody in Gucci as fabulous as yours should ever feel guilty.”  The movie won’t let fans down on this front.  There’s hardly a scene without either fabulous designer clothes or mention of a fabulous designer.  It’s nice to picture a lifestyle where fashion is one’s biggest concern.  Not to mention that the characters possess seemingly endless bank accounts and credit lines.  But I don’t think it’s the reason that viewers are drawn to the characters. 

The thing that the characters have that makes them so appealing is their friendship.  It cannot be stressed how much the four care for each other.  They are willing to put their families and careers on hold for one another.  Samantha in particular is dedicated, traveling from Los Angeles to New York at the drop of a hat for the other three.  When one goes to Mexico heartbroken, the others follow, working as best they can from their cell phones.  Breakups bring the four closer together than ever.  As do weddings.  As does the baby.  As does moving from one apartment to another.

           The women of Sex and the City are great friends in the best of times, but they are greater friends in the worst of times.  The audience for the movie (local and not) either has friends like these or they wish they did.  If they do, it makes them appreciate their friendships. If they don’t, it makes them eager to get some.  The ads for Sex and the City: The Movie tell audiences that the movie is about relationships.  The secret the ads hide is that the movie’s most important relationship is the one among the friends.

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