Sex and the City is the 2008 romantic comedy feature film adaptation of the HBO comedy series of the same name (itself based on the book of the same name by Candace Bushnell) about four female friends: Carrie Bradshaw (Sarah Jessica Parker), Samantha Jones (Kim Cattrall), Charlotte York Goldenblatt (Kristin Davis), and Miranda Hobbes (Cynthia Nixon) living in New York City. The series often portrayed frank discussions about romance and sexuality.
The world premiere took place at Leicester Square, London on May 12 2008, and premiered on May 28 2008 in the UK and May 30 2008 in the US. The film is rated R in the United States, 18PL in Malaysia, 18A in Canada, Category III in Hong Kong, M18 (with cuts) in Singapore, 15 in the United Kingdom, MA15+ in Australia, 12 in Germany and 11 in Norway.
Miranda (Cynthia Nixon) is finding balancing her home, work, and social life ever more difficult, and confesses to the girls that she hasn’t had sex with Steve (David Eigenberg) in six months. She is devastated when Steve reveals he has slept with another woman, and immediately separates from him. Samantha (Kim Cattrall) is living with Smith (Jason Lewis), who has a successful television career. They live in a seaside beach house in Los Angeles, where Samantha is finding it difficult to take time for herself. She is traveling frequently between L.A. and New York, and grappling with her persistent desire for sex with other men; her handsome and sexually active next-door-neighbor, Dante (Gilles Marini), in particular. Charlotte (Kristin Davis) is happy in her marriage to Harry (Evan Handler), with their adopted daughter, Lily.
Carrie's wedding plans escalate into such a lavish event that Big begins to experience doubts. Carrie is given a Vivienne Westwood wedding gown after modeling it for a photo shoot in Vogue. Carrie reads to Big from a book of famous love letters she has borrowed from the New York Public Library. She teases Big for never having sent her a love letter. While returning Love Letters of Great Men, Vol. 1 to the library, Carrie sees a wedding being held there and chooses it for her own venue.
After an argument with Steve at the rehearsal dinner, Miranda, still upset about Steve's indiscretion, tells Big bluntly that he and Carrie are crazy to be getting married, as marriage ruins everything. On the day of the ceremony, he decides he cannot go through with it, leaving Carrie devastated and fleeing from the library, where their wedding was supposed to take place. Big, however, changes his mind and intercepts Carrie as he sees her limousine drive past. Carrie has already been left humiliated and betrayed, and proceeds to attack Big with her bouquet; screaming her dismay at him, while earning furious looks from Miranda and Charlotte. The four women subsequently take the honeymoon that Carrie had booked to Mexico, where they de-stress and collect themselves.
On her return to New York, Carrie hires an assistant, Louise (Jennifer Hudson), to help her move back into her old apartment and manage her administration. Charlotte learns she is pregnant after a visit to her doctor. Miranda eventually confesses to Carrie about what happened during the night of the rehearsal dinner, and the two have a brief falling out. After reflecting on the argument she had with Carrie, Miranda agrees to attend couples counseling with Steve, and they are eventually able to reconcile. Samantha begins overeating to keep her from cheating on Smith with Dante, but eventually realizes that their relationship is simply not working, and that she needs to put herself first. The two break up, and she moves back to New York. Charlotte for several months is concerned that something might happen to the baby, as her life seems to be too perfect.
A surprise encounter with Big at a restaurant leaves Charlotte so furious that she goes into labor. Big delivers her to the hospital, and waits until baby Rose is born, hoping to see Carrie. Harry passes on the message that Big would like her to call him, and that he has written to her frequently, but never received a reply. Carrie searches her correspondence, before realizing that Louise has kept his e-mails password-protected from her, after she earlier announced she wished to sever all communication with him. She finds that he has sent her dozens of letters copied from the Love Letters of Great Men book she showed him in the weeks before their wedding, Love Letters of Great Men, Vol. 1, culminating with one of his own where he apologizes for screwing it up and promises to love her forever.
One hour before the locks are due to be changed on their shared penthouse apartment, Carrie travels to the home Big had bought for them to collect a pair of mint condition Manolo Blahnik shoes she had left there. She finds Big in the walk-in closet he had built for her, and the moment she sees him, her anger at his betrayal dissipates. She runs into his arms and they share a passionate kiss. After spending the final hour in their apartment together, talking and apologizing to one another, Big proposes to Carrie properly, using one of her diamond-encrusted shoes in place of a ring. They later marry alone, in a simple wedding in New York City Hall, with Carrie dressed in the original dress she had bought in a vintage shop. They hold a get-together at a local diner with their friends. The film ends with the four women around a table in a restaurant, sipping cosmopolitans, and celebrating Samantha's fiftieth birthday, with Carrie making a toast to the next fifty.
It was in mid-2007 that the plans for making the movie were announced again. This reportedly resulted after Cattrall's conditions being accepted along with a future HBO series. However, in May 2007 the project was halted after HBO decided it was no longer in a position to finance the movie on its own. The project was pitched within the Time Warner family (owners of HBO) and was picked by sister concern New Line Cinema.
While dressing the characters for the film, Field decided to stay clear from the latest fashion trends defining the characters and instead focused on the evolution of individual character and the actor portraying it, over the last four years. While Samantha's dressing was influenced by American TV soap opera Dynasty, Jackie Kennedy was the inspiration for Charlotte's clothes. Miranda, according to Field, has evolved the most from the series in terms of fashion. This was influenced significantly by development in actress Cynthia Nixon in past years. The tutu outfit that Carrie models for the other girls is the same outfit she wears on the HBO's show's credits.
Iconic fashion designer Vivienne Westwood, whose looks were featured in the film, has stated that she was unhappy with the styling in the movie, criticizing it as "quite dull", and walked out of the premiere after ten minutes.
Hats for Vivienne Westwood in the film are made by Prudence Millinery.
H. Stern loaned more than 300 pieces of jewelery to the film.
The film's soundtrack debuted at #2 on the Billboard 200, the highest debut for a multi-artist theatrical film soundtrack since 2005's Get Rich or Die Tryin'., and debuting at #6 on the UK Albums Chart, selling to date more than 55,000 copies.
A second soundtrack, Sex and the City: Volume 2, was released on September 23, 2008, conciding with the film's DVD release, featuring the British singers Estelle, Craig David and Mutya Buena, among others (Amy Winehouse).
Brian Lowry of Variety said the film "..feels a trifle half-hearted", while Carina Chocano of the Los Angeles Times stated "[the film] tackles weighty issues with grace but is still very funny". She praised Michael Patrick King's work saying very few movies "are willing to go to such dark places while remaining a comedy in the Shakespearean sense". Colin Bertram of the New York Daily News dubbed the film a "great reunion", and was happy with the return of "The 'Oh, my God, they did not just do that!' moments, the nudity, the swearing, the unabashed love of human frailty and downright wackiness". The Chicago Tribune's Jessica Reeves described it as "Witty, effervescent and unexpectedly thoughtful. Michael Rechtshaffen at The Hollywood Reporter praised the performances of the four leading ladies and said the film kept the essence of the series, but resembled a super-sized episode.
Manohla Dargis of The New York Times found the film "a vulgar, shrill, deeply shallow — and, at 2 hours and 22 turgid minutes, overlong — addendum to a show", while The Daily Telegraph's Sukhdev Sandhu panned the film saying "[the ladies] have become frozen, Spice Girls-style types - angsty, neurotic, predatory, princess - rather than individuals who might evolve or surprise us". Rick Groen of The Globe and Mail slammed the film commenting on lack of script and adding that the characters "don't perform so much as parade, fixed in their roles as semi-animated clothes hangers on a cinematic runway". He gave the film zero stars out of four. Anthony Lane, a film critic for The New Yorker since 1993, called the film a "superannuated fantasy posing as a slice of modern life"; he noted that "almost sixty years after All About Eve, which also featured four major female roles, there is a deep sadness in the sight of Carrie and friends defining themselves not as Bette Davis, Anne Baxter, Celeste Holm, and Thelma Ritter did—by their talents, their hats, and the swordplay of their wits—but purely by their ability to snare and keep a man....All the film lacks is a subtitle: "The Lying, the Bitch, and the Wardrobe.
Ramin Setoodeh of Newsweek speculated that some of the criticism for Sex is derived possibly from sexism: "...when you listen to men talk about it (and this is coming from the perspective of a male writer), a strange thing happens. The talk turns hateful. Angry. Vengeful. Annoyed... Is this just poor sportsmanship? I can't help but wonder—cue the Carrie Bradshaw voiceover here—if it's not a case of 'Sexism in the City.' Men hated the movie before it even opened... Movie critics, an overwhelmingly male demographic, gave it such a nasty tongue lashing you would have thought they were talking about an ex-girlfriend...The movie might not be 'Citizen Kane'—which, for the record, is a dude flick—but it's incredibly sweet and touching. If it's not your cup of tea (or Cosmo), must you really attack it so vehemently?"
The DVD has reached the #1 on the UK DVD's Top Chart and is the fastest selling DVD release of 2008 in the UK, selling over 920,000 copies in one week. It is way ahead of the 700,000 copies sold for Ratatouille which was, prior to Sex and the City's release, the best selling DVD of 2008 in the UK.