The popularity of the frank comedy about four female New York friends made it a game-changer for HBO, which knew that going the movie route with it would be a smart business decision … particularly after the show ended, since its devotees likely would leap at more adventures of Carrie, Samantha, Miranda and Charlotte (played again by Sarah Jessica Parker, Kim Cattrall, Cynthia Nixon and Kristin Davis).
And leap they did, though returning writer-director Michael Patrick King also was wise enough to make allowances for those unfamiliar with the series, largely accomplishing that through an opening-credit voiceover by Parker that quickly brings the stories of all four women up to date. Those involve the men in their lives, with Chris Noth, Jason Lewis, David Eigenberg and Evan Handler also reprising their TV roles.
Remaining first among equals is the story of Carrie (Parker) and her wealthy beau known as “Mr. Big” (Noth). True love did not run smooth for them in the original version, nor does it here, even as they’re headed for the altar. A case of cold feet is a major factor in what happens, resulting in a great display of what always has been a principal theme of “Sex and the City”: sisterhood.
With the way the other women rally around Carrie, it’s no surprise that fans took this movie to heart as they did. The fact that the actresses knew the characters and their relationships so well by then added an extra layer of authenticity that was everything in terms of this story, making the picture a smash hit — even at a length of 2-½ hours, which still wasn’t enough for many people.
In fact, “Sex and the City 2.” followed, but its plot that took the ladies to Abu Dhabi was a bit of a stretch. Sticking to the simple (yet emotionally complicated) basics was the best path here, confirmed by the fact that the first movie often has been included in televised marathons of the original show, being such a logical and comfortable extension of it.
Among cast additions here, Jennifer Hudson is the clear standout as Carrie’s personal assistant and frequent sounding board, ultimately providing the key that brings the movie to its hugely satisfying conclusion. Rumblings have surfaced from time to time about a “Sex and the City” revival (and they’re more than rumblings now, since an HBO Max limited series has been ordered), but it’s hard to imagine another film in the franchise could accomplish as well what the first one does so beautifully.