Sex and the City

Where are they now?  Where they were, pretty much.

Miranda (Cynthia Nixon) has banished herself to Brooklyn and become overbooked with the obligations of work and family. “Let’s just get it over with,” she says to husband Steve (David Eigenberg) during sex, setting him off and setting up the plot.

Charlotte (Kristin Davis), abetted by her husband Harry (Evan Handler), does the ever-after routine with characteristic doe-eyed delight. Or was it deer-in-the-headlights? “I have everything I ever wanted,” she confides. “I’m so happy, I’m terrified.”

Samantha (Kim Cattrall) shares swanky beachfront Malibu digs with her young TV hottie, Smith (Jason Lewis), but can’t keep her eyes off the surfer-stud neighbor (Gilles Marini). “I don’t really believe in marriage,” she typically quips. “Now, Botox, on the other hand, that works every time.”

And narrator Carrie (Sarah Jessica Parker), pricing apartments containing Grand Central-sized closets with her beloved Mr. Big (Chris Noth), still finds ways to delay her fairy-tale gratifications so as to keep pining for them, perhaps forever.

Together they’ll endure the requisite life changes: a wedding, a pregnancy, a cheat, a pair of cold feet, a broken friendship, an imposed uncool New York City area code. These are the diverting, decadent, ingratiating satisfactions of writer-director-producer Michael Patrick King’s Sex and the City movie, which seems like a full seventh season of his HBO show, just without the usual breaks between episodes; at 145 minutes, the film is, and feels, long. What makes it worth the big screen? Well it’s so subversive, some male movie critics likely will say in unconvincing voices. Why, here, it’s the women who do the objectifying, and make the jokes about pubic hair and poo, and disport themselves with lots of stuff.

In other words, just enjoy it, and look for other familiar — if inanimate — characters, like Manolo Blahnik and Louis Vuitton. But also for unfamiliar — if uncomfortable — ones, like Louise (Jennifer Hudson), Carrie’s quietly wise personal-assistant-of-color. Cleaning up an email inbox instead of a toilet doesn’t make Louise seem like less of a maid; and so what if her keychain spells l-o-v-e, when it’s the L-V on her handbag with which Carrie buys her loyalty? It’s most gracious of Hudson to bring her warmth and appeal (and a song) to a film in which she only barely outranks Charlotte’s adopted Chinese toddler as the token minority.

Still, however shallowly rendered, much of the movie is deeply felt — particularly that which goes on between Carrie and Big. Don’t underestimate what Parker and Noth can do with the trappings of traditional rom-com: a snowy-lonely New Year’s Eve montage, for instance, or for that matter an opening montage, in which Carrie brings us up to speed. I was all set to deride that expository clunker for seeming so perfunctory, but obviously it hit the bulls-eye; on the way out, my girlfriend admitted, “As soon as it started, I felt like I was going to cry.” Then, to her great credit, she added, “Now I know I’m about to start my period.” At once a fan and a skeptic, like the rest of us.