For six years I faithfully held my breath for 30 minutes every Sunday night. The tutu cued the inhale. The credits cued the exhale. I won't tell you I can quote episodes word for word -- who can't? But, I will tell you I can quote the director's commentary word for word. And, finally, fingernails on a chalkboard sound like a sweet symphony compared to the sound of someone referring to my beloved "Sex and the City" as "Sex in the City."
Needless to say, I'm a fan. A true fan. The type of fan who can't bear to watch Michael Patrick King unravel the four women who bid the public farewell on my birthday six years ago. The writer-director's movies, "Sex and the City: The Movie" and "Sex and the City 2," have turned the franchise into a parody of itself. The shameless product placement of the fashion, the substance-free plots and the backpedaling of the main character are all dimming the bright light in which I once regarded "Sex and the City."
If having Carrie Bradshaw back means having to watch a 40-something woman eagerly belly-flop into foolish mistakes of her past then I'd rather just keep her where I left her. In a closet, on my DVD shelf. The same goes for Samantha Jones.
There are several scenes in the sequel that have her wearing gear only one person in the world has any business donning: Lady GaGa. Who knew the empowered, independent Samantha would devolve into the female equivalent of the pathetic old guy at the club? If only someone would kindly tap one of her spiked shoulder pads and tell her the bold color palettes and behemoth jewelry her TV-self enjoyed are much more flattering.
That's exactly what's wrong with the movies. The old Carrie and Samantha would know better. No way would Carrie jump on the Mr. Big and Aidan teeter-totter again. Nor would Samantha choose to look like the lady who can't accept her age. Act like her, yes, but look like her? Never.
As for Charlotte York-Goldenblatt and Miranda Hobbes, these two normally head-butting characters provide the single best part of the movie. And it lasts about five minutes. A candid discussion about motherhood, albeit in a posh hotel penthouse in Abu Dhabi, marks the one real, relatable scene. Not that embarking on an all-expense paid trip to the Middle East or lounging at home on the couch in a Lanvin gown or owning an extra apartment in Manhattan -- just because -- aren't all concepts with which a typical American audience can't identify.
Although, there is one side story that will flash you back to the TV series' unapologetic sense of humor (Charlotte's bouncing, braless nanny) and a couple great one-liners ("Lawrence of my labia"), I'm pretty sure the princesses of puns recycled a couple sound bites from old episodes. If only they'd put more focus into the writing and less attention on the fashion. Yeah, I said it.
When the wardrobe styling stops being about telling a story and starts being about kissing the Fifth Avenue ground on which every powerhouse fashion boutique stands then it's time to reassess things.
How else can you explain a lengthy shot in which Carrie cites exactly whose spring collections we're staring at or a scene that showcases the shopping bags of every Parisian, Italian and American designer under the Abu Dhabi sun?
I will, however, give wardrobe stylist Patricia Field credit for redeeming herself with the lead character. "Sex and the City: The Movie" didn't have enough unpredictable, head-tilting pieces to make it certifiably Carrie. "Sex and the City 2," on the other hand, delights our Carrie curiosities with a couple turbans, one very oversized boyfriend blazer, a bevy of quirky accessories and a few vintage standouts.
But, that's not nearly enough to salvage the damage that's been done. The series ended for a reason: It was time. Carrie exhausted all her drama. Samantha's sexcapades got old. And, Miranda's and Charlotte's lives went PG.
Before plans for "Sex and the City 3" get under way, can someone please inform King that Candace Bushnell, the author of "Sex and the City," has written a young adult book called "The Carrie Diaries"? I'd much rather see a prequel with young starlets than have to endure another sequel in which Carrie craves one last Post-it from "Burger," or Samantha abandons PR for PD: pole dancing.
King thought he threw die-hard "Sex and the City" fans a bone with the films but, clearly, all I have is a bone to pick. The cinematic versions of Carrie, Samantha, Miranda and Charlotte make me want to slip on a pair of ruby red Manolo Blahniks, click the heels together and chant "There's no place like HBO" until I can vividly remember the pre-movie foursome.