Relationships with the opposite sex are fleeting, but a designer handbag is forever in Sex and the City: The Movie, two and a quarter hours of product placement disguised as a feature film.
Although basically just a criminally bloated chick flick, the big-screen Sex often feels more like a sitcom from decades past, albeit slightly revamped, with its four gal pals coming off as if Mary and Rhoda had cloned themselves, consumed a steady diet of Danielle Steele, scrounged up the cash for better wardrobes, and spent more of their time talking about, and occasionally having, sex.
No need to worry if you've never seen an episode of Sex and the City, the popular HBO series on which the film is based, because the movie quickly (and clumsily) introduces its characters and brings us up to speed during the opening credits.
Perky Charlotte (Kristin Davis) is now happily domesticated with a hubby and adopted Chinese baby; Miranda (Cynthia Nixon) is also married-with-children but having a harder time balancing a career with the demands of being a wife and mother; aging sexpot Samantha (Kim Cattrall), who gets all the movie's best lines, is blissfully banging away with her latest boy toy (Jason Lewis); and Carrie (Sarah Jessica Parker), the unofficial ringleader of the pack, is on the verge of tying the knot with her longtime on-and-off-again boyfriend Mr. Big (Chris Noth), now known as John James Preston.
Writer-director Michael Patrick King dutifully trots out a stream of minor infidelities, misunderstandings, bedroom problems, commitment issues and the like, but the plot is essentially driven by the three S's -- shoes, shopping and sex (or, more specifically, the idea of sex, since there's surprisingly scant shtupping in this rather tame project, save for a horny little dog who shows up to hump a pillow or a pile of laundry whenever the movie requires a laugh).
Those who thrill spotting fabulous designer items by Prada, Gucci, Chanel and Louis Vuitton will be in heaven here. Those of us less enamored of extended montages of dresses, jewelry and stiletto heels will discover a brand of fashion porn every bit as dubious as the so-called torture porn dished out by so many movies these days.
Dreamgirls' Jennifer Hudson adds a dash of color to this thoroughly white, wealthy vision of Manhattan chic, but her character is so painfully sincere (the script, without a scrap of irony, dubs her a "saint"), that she winds up coming off just as shallow as everyone else.
Fans of the series probably won't be much dismayed by the lack of depth -- think of it as Transformers transformed as a chick flick -- but the rest of us may find so little of interest that it's hard not to start fixating on how the little wart on Sarah Jessica Parker's chin seems to change size from scene to scene.