- The Washington Times - Friday, May 30, 2008

Finally, a summer movie for the other half of the population.

The big blockbusters that start rolling into theaters in May and don’t stop coming until at least August are typically geared to a young, male demographic. However, this summer there’s at least one surefire hit that doesn’t involve a man in a cartoon costume.

Sex and the City,” the big-screen adaptation of the HBO television series that ran from 1998 to 2004, doesn’t have any car chases or crashes, computer-graphics-imaging monsters or big explosions (of the nonemotional kind, anyway). It does have fabulous clothes, expensive bags, killer shoes and, most important, more drama and suspense than your average big-budget action flick. Fans of the groundbreaking series will be wowed by the style and, on the whole, satisfied with the substance.

The film picks up four years after we last saw the girls. Now in their 40s, the girls have moved on with their lives while enjoying the happy endings they got at the conclusion of the show.

Writer Carrie Bradshaw (Sarah Jessica Parker) has graduated from newspaper columns to books and is happily settled with the famously commitment-phobic Mr. Big (Chris Noth). Lawyer Miranda Hobbes (Cynthia Nixon) is still in Brooklyn, married to good-guy Steve Brady (David Eigenberg), with their son Brady no longer a baby. Neither is Charlotte York’s (Kristin Davis) adoptive Chinese daughter Lily, whom the former art curator happily raises along with divorce-lawyer husband Harry Goldenblatt (Evan Handler).

Even that good-time-girl Samantha (Kim Cattrall) has settled down - she’s moved to Malibu to help further her younger boyfriend Smith Jerrod’s (Jason Lewis) acting career.

So what happens after happily ever after? As these four women find over the course of a year, sometimes more happiness, sometimes more heartbreak.

The plot whirls into motion when Big and Carrie decide that, after 10 years of on-and-off dating, it’s time to tie the knot. As Carrie notes, their engagement isn’t the result of the cliched man down on bended knee: “It’s just two grown-ups making a decision about spending their lives together.”

That sounds sensible, but when Carrie winds up in Vogue as “the last single girl” and Page Six declares that her betrothal proves “there can be a happy ending after 40,” things get a bit too big for Big’s comfort.

And when career-minded Miranda encounters marital problems and Samantha can’t stop fantasizing about the hot hunk next door, just about every couple wonders if there is any such thing as happily ever after. (Only Charlotte’s life is practically drama-free - her biggest worry is a digestive problem after drinking some water in Mexico.)

The series had a big effect on how many women saw themselves, both physically and emotionally. On the fashion front, costume designer Patricia Field has reprised her role, and it shows - the talented foursome, every one of whom steps seamlessly back into character, look gorgeous.

It also helps that writer-director Michael Patrick King, who also worked on the series, brings back that snappy dialogue that made the show so much fun. (It sometimes seems, though, that a shot doesn’t go by without the appearance of some recognizable designer logo, from Chanel to Louis Vuitton. Samantha’s iPhone is virtually omnipresent.)

“Sex and the City” took many hits from critics who thought the show glamorized women happily playing the field, but in the film, all four women realize they’re not getting any younger. What might have been cause for a breakup in their 20s or even 30s might now be cause for couples to seek therapy.

If there’s one overriding theme here, it’s forgiveness. As the girls’ friendships have always been so important to them, it’s fitting that they learn it there first, before realizing that their men are just as deserving of it.

***

TITLE: “Sex and the City”

RATING: R (strong sexual content, graphic nudity and language)

CREDITS: Written and directed by Michael Patrick King based on characters from the book by Candace Bushnell

RUNNING TIME: 135 minutes

WEB SITE: www.sexandthecitymovie.com

MAXIMUM RATING: FOUR STARS

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