Each of the women represents a particular personality type. Carrie is modern, sensible about things other than clothes and accessories, and reflective, although mostly about issues of sex and the single girl. Charlotte is idealistic, traditional and romantic. Miranda is serious but self-doubting, successful but not satisfied. And Samantha is outrageous, a sexually voracious sybarite. The friends' differences in experience and outlook, mixed with their utter candor when together, provided the series its hook. These women would talk about anything. And much of what they talked about were things we'd not heard discussed so openly and graphically before. We tuned in to each new episode, in part, just to see what they'd say to each other next. The great majority of the show's defining frankness has been deleted from its run in syndication, and little of it reemerges in the film.
Thus the movie of Sex and the City, unwilling to revisit its open commentary on contemporary sexual practices and cultural mores, settles for a next-step look at the four main characters' romantic situations, or for three of the four, anyway; King wasn't able to think up much of anything for Charlotte's character to do, other than to humiliate her with an excretory accident. The other three, though, are put through the relationship meat grinder. When Miranda's husband Steve (David Eigenberg) admits an infidelity, she instantly begins planning to divorce. Some context is provided in the libido diminution that often accompanies the rigors of parenting young children, particularly among two-career couples. Nonetheless, King's script provides no background for Steve's decision to reveal an indiscretion that otherwise would not have come to light. Samantha, meanwhile, runs into a comparable problem. Her boytoy lover Smith Jerrod (Jason Lewis) is just too busy with his acting career to meet her sexual needs. And lots of time on her own has started Samantha wondering whether her devotion to Smith has been purchased at the price of her lifelong independence to which we all say, "Duh!"
The main narrative thread, though, concerns Carrie's relationship with on-again, off-again boyfriend Mr. Big, aka John James Preston (Chris Noth). They are on again, but when Carrie attends a jewelry auction, she begins to wonder what might happen if she moved in with Big (as they are planning), only to have him dump her. To leverage some relationship equity for herself, she convinces Big to marry her (he's not at all hesitant). And thus begin escalating plans for a city-stopping wedding, a parade of white gowns and plot twists that are patently ridiculous. Somewhere in there Oscar winner Jennifer Hudson shows up as Louise from St. Louis to take a job as Carrie's assistant and, presumably, provide women of color someone with whom to identify.
In sum, Sex and the City doesn't much work on the level of story. It's predictable and unconvincing. But King has devised an adequate number of laugh lines, and darned if his themes about friendship and forgiveness aren't pitch-perfect, whatever the weakness of the underlying narrative. In the end, the picture is less than I'd hoped for, but in important ways, more than I expected.