Is it just me?... Or is Sex And The City: The Movie wildly underrated?

In our regular polarising-opinion series, one Total Film writer argues that Sex And The City: The Movie deserves a second look.

Read on, and let us know if you agree with the argument put forward by having your say in the comments section below.

Is it just me... Or is Sex And The City: The Movie wildly underrated? asks Matt Maytum

Before I start, let me make one thing clear: this argument specifically refers to the first film spin-off from the HBO series. The soul-crushingly terrible sequel was so bad that it soiled the memory of the first film and even the celebrated series from which it sprung. Which is a shame, because not only does the first one do a decent job of satisfying fans craving another hit, it also works well as a standalone product in its own right.

There was every reason to believe SATC:TM was going to be awful. Arriving in 2008, four years after the series had neatly resolved itself on telly, it could’ve been the Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull for the cocktails-and-Manolos generation. Just because fans want to hang out with their favourite characters again, doesn’t mean they should be indulged. But Sex And The City earned its reprise, with big enough story beats to justify a return, as well as a feature-length-friendly structure that stays true to the spirit of the show, and more drama and comedy than plenty of its romcomdram stablemates.

It helps that the film acknowledges the passing of time, with Carrie and co having aged in the hiatus. It gives it distance from the series, without detaching it completely. The longer running time doesn’t make it feel like an overstretched episode; instead it gives room to flesh out fuller arcs. Because where the film is really underrated is in its emotional punch.

Sure, there’s a gratuitous amount of high fashion and lifestyle porn (and films have never been about escapism, right?), but SATC:TM still manages to hit you right in the feels. It’s unfortunate that the haters will probably never be able to get through the first 20 minutes without being thoroughly turned off. With Sarah Jessica Parker’s Carrie preparing for an ostentatious wedding, it’s at its most indulgent and showy in the first act, but it’s really just the set-up for a fall. After that, the real drama kicks in and it’s surprisingly thoughtful and affecting.

Despite its title, the series was never really about sex. That might have been the hook, but it wouldn’t have earned legions of fans if it was just an endless string of between-the-sheets platitudes. It was always about the warm dynamic between the four central characters, which is successfully carried over to the big screen. For my money, the most potent dramas and romances always play out over a believably protracted time period, and SATC:TM delivers on that front. Not just in the way it extends the shelf life of the show: the film also charts its own changing seasons.

And before you start complaining about how spoilt and bratty Carrie is, hold up: I tend to agree. But while she might be a deeply flawed character, that always made the various relationships that bit more complex and believable. And, those evident flaws only serve to make you feel like you know the group even more intimately.

That all adds up to SATC:TM being an unexpectedly powerful and enjoyable film. Or is it just me?

Agree or disagree with Matt's argument? Hit the comments section below to add your view!

Matt Maytum
Deputy Editor, Total Film

I'm the Deputy Editor at Total Film magazine, looking after the long-form features there, and generally obsessing over all things Nolan, Kubrick and Pixar. Over the past decade I've worked in various roles for TF online and in print, including at GamesRadar+, and you can often hear me nattering on the Inside Total Film podcast. Bucket-list-ticking career highlights have included reporting from the set of Tenet and Avengers: Infinity War, as well as covering Comic-Con, TIFF and the Sundance Film Festival.