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Originally published May 29, 2008 at 12:00 AM | Page modified June 4, 2008 at 6:13 PM

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Movie review

Sex and the City: This one's for the fans

MOVIE REVIEW -- OK, let's just cut to the chase here: A key role in "Sex and the City: The Movie" is played by a pair of blue satin Manolo...

Seattle Times movie critic

Movie review 3 stars

"Sex and the City: The Movie" with Sarah Jessica Parker, Cynthia Nixon, Kristin Davis, Kim Cattrall, Chris Noth, Jennifer Hudson, David Eigenberg, Evan Handler, Jason Lewis. Written and directed by Michael Patrick King. 140 minutes. Rated R for strong sexual content, graphic nudity and language. Several theaters.

Movie Trailer

Sex and the City: The Movie

OK, let's just cut to the chase here: A key role in "Sex and the City: The Movie" is played by a pair of blue satin Manolo Blahnik pumps, with sparkly trim. They give a performance of quiet dignity, of soulfulness with a touch of devil-may-care, of ...

What, you want to know about the people? Wait, first let me tell you about the crucial role of a wedding dress, played with creamy angularity by a Vivienne Westwood confection ...

Are we alone now? Has everyone who turns up their noses at "Sex and the City" the television series gone off to read something more substantial and less footwear-oriented? All right then. "Sex and the City: The Movie" is no great shakes as a movie, but it doesn't have to be. What it does have to be is a happy revisit to a land its fans know well, and on that level it works just fine. When you reread a favorite book for the umpteenth time, you're not looking for the unexpected, and those who seek out this movie likewise will be wanting to re-create the fun of the series' flip glamour — and the sweetness of its four heroines' devotion to each other.

Written and directed by Michael Patrick King, the movie reunites pretty much every significant character from the original series, some for tiny roles indeed (Candice Bergen and the wonderful Mario Cantone are shamelessly underused). And the plot lines are — surprise — no surprise at all.

Carrie (Sarah Jessica Parker) and Big, aka John (Chris Noth), are planning a wedding, but there's trouble in paradise. Miranda (Cynthia Nixon) continues her prickly marriage to laid-back Steve (David Eigenberg) as they tackle family life in Brooklyn. Charlotte (Kristin Davis) and Harry (Evan Handler) live in Park Avenue bliss, with their adopted daughter, Lily, and dreams of another child. And Samantha (Kim Cattrall) is living in L.A. with Smith (Jason Lewis), the young actor whose career she launched — but dreams of launching something else with her handsome new neighbor.

Sound familiar? Indeed it does, and that's the point: There's no new ground here, except for a certain milestone birthday (guess who turns 50?) and for its sole new character, sweetly played by Jennifer Hudson but clearly secondary to the main event. And though the movie does a good early summary of the characters' back stories (via the trademark Carrie voice-over), it's filled with references that may furrow the brows of newcomers. Samantha at one point airily mentions "that big mess with Aidan," and we who watched the show know exactly what she's talking about: two seasons' worth of angst, a broken engagement and some very bad shirts. If you don't know, well, nobody in this movie's going to tell you. This one's strictly for the fans.

So why watch, if you've already got the DVD set? Because Parker and Noth still have a chemistry that crackles like Diet Coke on ice. Because Davis, whose sweetly silly Charlotte stole the series and my heart, is a screwball-worthy comedian whose whispered delivery of the line, "It's Mexico," is almost worth the ticket price. Because it's fun — and generally accurate — to predict Miranda's level of bitchiness in any particular scene based on how flat her hair is. Because there's a sequence midmovie, beginning at the New York Public Library with a dropped cellphone and continuing into the street, that's a beautifully choreographed piece of over-the-top operatic melodrama. Because despite its flaws, it's still better than most recent Hollywood romantic comedies.

And because, in its merchandise-filled way, "Sex and the City: The Movie" celebrates a rarity on the big screen: grown-up women's friendship. I'll raise a virtual Cosmo to that, any time.

Moira Macdonald: 206-464-2725 or mmacdonald@seattletimes.com

Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company

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