At well over two hours, this epic-length episode of the hit HBO series simultaneously delivers more and less: More of the romantic ups and downs of four absurdly overdressed New Yorkers and considerably less of the dirty girl talk that made the series a cause scandale. It's a mainstreamed, big-screen version of the bowdlerized, endlessly syndicated version of the show, not the raunchy original.
Although it seems like yesterday, three years (four, in real time) have passed since we last saw cynical lawyer Miranda Hobbes (Cynthia Nixon), oversexed publicist Samantha Jones (Kim Cattrall), hopelessly romantic WASP-ette Charlotte York-Goldenblatt (Kristen Davis) and, of course, Carrie Bradshaw (Sarah Jessica Parker), the columnist, author and thinker of deep thoughts with an Upper East Side apartment and the fashion sense of a transvestite hooker. Not much has changed. Samantha is still living with her hottest client, TV star Smith Jerrod (Jason Lewis), only they now call Malibu home. Overworked Miranda and husband Steve (David Eigenberg) are ensconced in Brooklyn with their young son, while Charlotte is happily raising her adopted Chinese daughter with husband Harry (Evan Handler). And Carrie, having finally chosen wealthy financier "Big" (Chris Noth) -- his real name, we now know, is John James Preston -- who treated her like a doormat and kept her coming back for more, is about to move into his fabulous Fifth Avenue penthouse. Carrie is prepared to sell her apartment, but the leap makes her nervous: Should they break up yet again, girlfriend will be out on the streets. So Big and Carrie agree to tie the knot, even though he, twice divorced, is understandably wary. Oblivious, Carrie starts planning her fabulous dream wedding, to he held at the New York Public Library, but her fantasy quickly hits a snag she should have seen coming. Miranda, meanwhile, must deal with an "indiscretion" in her own marriage and Samantha questions whether she's really cut out to share her life with anyone but herself. What else is new? Unfortunately not enough.
Writer-director Michael Patrick King is smugly aware of the inexplicable resonance the series he helped shape has had: The movie opens with a tacky vision of a city filled with Miranda/Samantha/Charlotte/Carrie wannabes and closes with the four originals sipping the Cosmopolitan cocktails they popularized and wondering, "Why did we ever stop drinking these?" Carrie's response: "Because everyone else started." Aside from Parker's charm and Cattrall's drag-queen sass, time has made only it only harder for unbelievers to fathom the appeal. There are fashion shows, photo shoots and a garish parade of shopping bags, but nothing is remotely real or of any depth. The bitchy "gay" humor that gave the show its edge is conspicuously absent, and Carrie remains a depressingly shallow emotional masochist who believes women come New York in search of two things only: designer labels and love. (Carrie's new assistant, flatly played by Jennifer Hudson, shows up for the sole purpose of seconding that sad thought.) Fans weaned on the stale, TBS version of the show will probably love it. Anyone expecting something remotely fresh is advised to look elsewhere. leave a comment --Ken Fox