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Dead Tree Alert: Sex Sex Sex!

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In this week’s print Time, I joined in the summer arts preview, which you might recognize as pretty much the summer arts preview that ran on time.com. In addition, I reviewed the Sex and the City movie, filling in for Time movie critic Richard Corliss, who was in Cannes when the review needed to close for the magazine. (Tough life.) My take: Better than nothing, but not up to the standards of the better seasons of the TV show.

For some reason the print version doesn’t seem to be posted at time.com, so in the interest of value-adding, I’ll cut-and-paste my full review after the jump. (Warning: minor spoilers, but nothing that wasn’t given away in the trailer):

Attending an SATC screening is eye-opening for a male critic, even one who loved the hbo series: a room full of the opposite sex, watching a wish-fulfillment, female-bonding comedy accessorized with objectified or idealized men. I now know how every woman who saw Knocked Up last summer felt.

Nodding to its fan girls, SATC kicks off like a class reunion. Samantha (Kim Cattrall) is chafing after five years of monogamy; Charlotte (Kristin Davis) is preggers; Miranda (Cynthia Nixon) is a stressed-out working mom. Most important, Carrie (Sarah Jessica Parker) is engaged to Mr. Big (Chris Noth) and, in a bit of torch-passing, takes on a lovelorn assistant (Jennifer Hudson, left). The first half-hour is a nostalgic whirl of fun, fashion and f–um, fraternization. But when Big gets cold feet, the film takes a melancholy turn.

SATC seems too long (nearly 2 1/2 hours) yet too short (cramming in what might have been a season-long story arc). The Carrie-Big plot relies too much on contrivances and changes of heart that seem driven mainly by the need for conflict. (Miranda’s marital-trouble subplot seems more real, partly on the strength of Nixon’s layered performance.)

Still, the moments among the four gal pals re-create the show’s magic: their tough love, bons mots and skewering of fairy-tale-romance myths. Imperfect but true to the series’ spirit, SATC should keep fans happy–if not ever after, then at least until the credits roll.

Then, of course, Corliss came back from Cannes and showed me up by subjecting SATC to real honest-to-God film criticism. Meanwhile, the New York Times—the review Carrie Bradshaw and company would care about most in real life—hated it.

Who’s planning on seeing the movie this weekend? This is one of those movies where it’s hard to give examples of the strengths (and especially here, the plot weaknesses) without giving away spoilers, but depending on time I might try to put up a more spoilery post for discussion next week, once people have had some time to see it.