May 28 (Bloomberg) -- Who knew how relatable four fashion freaks lunching on the Upper East Side could be? The ubiquity of ``Sex and the City'' -- in reruns on cable television, in magazines and newspapers -- attests to the crazy cultural phenomenon the show wrought. Four years after the final new episode aired on HBO, director Michael Patrick King's feature- length movie neatly ties up any loose ends we may or may not have been worrying about.
The entire cast is back -- or at least the ones we care about -- and each character's pretty much following his or her established trajectory.
Carrie (Sarah Jessica Parker), the series protagonist and narrator, is the same sex-savvy writer audiences relied on for anecdotal observations about love. Now, however, she's a best- selling author, not just some underpaid sex columnist.
She's still with Mr. Big (Chris Noth), who's intending to buy them a fitting Fifth Avenue palace.
Samantha (Kim Cattrall) is as sensational and lascivious as you remember. But she's remained committed to her Hollywood beau and can only join the foursome after six-hour flights from Los Angeles. Charlotte (Kristin Davis) is still so saccharine your stomach aches, but she's now happily married and a mother, so her neuroses are a bit tamer.
Last, and perhaps least, Miranda (Cynthia Nixon) is as bitter as she's always been and, as expected, her marital troubles show no signs of letting up.
The movie begins with a splashy recap of some of the TV show's most memorable moments -- just like ``The Sopranos'' -- easing you into its six-year history so that even a novice can appreciate important plot points.
Carrie and Big happen into an engagement that, true to the on-again, off-again nature of their 10-year courtship, is more akin to a business transaction than a betrothal. The wedding process becomes more than either bargained for. Though the other three best friends are dealing with dramas of their own, they all pull together and help guide Carrie through trying times.
The movie does well with darker themes than the show's fans will be used to. Carrie gets support from a new addition to the core group, her personal secretary played by Oscar-winner Jennifer Hudson. Hudson proves to be as insightful and wise as any 25-year-old from St. Louis could ever hope to be.
The film's main fault lies in its roughly 140-minute running time. The show aired for six seasons, shot over 90 episodes, and each one was a tight, romantic -- or at least romanticized -- 25-minute New York novella, with little flab. The movie, by contrast, has too many lazy scenes showing Carrie donning her Manolos or giving private fashion shows to her friends.
Silly antics will elicit chuckles from only the most faithful fans. But that's no doubt in part due to the risks of transforming a whimsical nighttime soap opera into a summertime blockbuster. The bloat shows.