It's been four years since the TV finale of Sex and the City, and the gals are much as they were when their fans last saw them: Charlotte's still a wide-eyed dreamer with her adopted daughter in tow. Neurotic Miranda can still be prickly, perhaps because of that commute from Brooklyn. Samantha's live-in Hollywood hunk isn't enough to keep her from feeling constricted by monogamy. And Carrie? Well, after years of on-again, off-again with Big, she's talked him into tying the knot.
At which news, a restaurant full of Manhattanites breaks into applause.
If you follow the show, you'll be pleased to note that in addition to oceans of pink cocktails and much ado about Louis Vuitton — the latter prompted mostly by the presence of former Dreamgirl Jennifer Hudson — there are emotional crises galore, a trip to Mexico (mostly for a change of scenery) and no fewer than three separate fashion parades, one of which involves wedding gowns that make Sarah Jessica Parker appear to be drowning in everything from whipped cream to popcorn.
Like everyone in the film, Parker's Carrie encounters obstacles, and her posse faces those obstacles together, surrounding her with a family that has nothing to do with genetics.
And if this fabulously decked-out foursome is self-absorbed enough to be inadvertently cruel on occasion, they also suffer lots of guilt — though their angst is rendered somewhat less angsty for viewers by the zingers, the designers, and the cheerfully objectified men on display.
Writer-director Michael Patrick King, who shepherded the TV series through its last couple of seasons, knows what fans like — and he has provided close to five episodes' worth in the movie, which clocks in at roughly two-and-a-half hours. That'll be a little much for non-fans, but it seemed to please the crowd at the press screening I attended.
Admittedly, the energy did seem to go out of the auditorium about halfway through the picture, when the projector's framing slipped so that microphones were suddenly visible at the top of the screen — but you couldn't see anyone's shoes.
And there were some gasps at the very beginning, when the projectionist started with the wrong wide-screen lens — briefly turning the heroines into plus-size dames walking arm in arm. (Not quite the big-screen expansion the capacity crowd was expecting.)
But for the most part, this celebration with Carrie & Co. — television writ large, murmurs the hidebound critic in me — seems precisely the Sex and the City reunion the show's fans had hoped for.