Sex and the City
OPENS: Friday, May 30 (New Line).
The veil officially comes off the highly anticipated "Sex and the City" movie at the end of the month, and while the HBO series' ardent fans are certain to come out in droves, the end product is a case of bigger not necessarily being better.
When making a successful transition from TV show to motion picture, the trick always is to retain the essence of what made the series so watchable while at the same time addressing the demands of that larger canvas without feeling like a super-sized episode.
But while staying faithful to the former -- Carrie (Sarah Jessica Parker) and the girls remain energetically true to form -- the nearly 2 1/2-hour feature tends to resemble the latter.
Not that the bloated result will deter the show's fiercely loyal audience, which should make the New Line release a potent girls night out destination, but it is unlikely to build on that fan base.
Essentially picking up four years later from where the Emmy-winning series left off in 2004 (after six seasons), the movie efficiency brings everybody up to speed.
Carrie, no longer writing that weekly column, is working on her fourth book and is still in a stable relationship with Mr. Big (Chris Noth).
Charlotte (Kristin Davis) is living her fairy tale existence on Park Avenue with her hubby, Harry (Evan Handler), and the little girl they adopted from China.
The considerably more-stressed Miranda (Cynthia Nixon) is living in Brooklyn, struggling to balance a high-pressure job with marriage to her husband Steve (David Eigenberg) and motherhood.
Meanwhile, over on the other coast, Samantha (Kim Cattrall) appears to have settled down with her actor-client Smith (Jason Lewis) in their sunny Malibu beach house.
But when Big pops the big question, a whole mess of change is set into gear.
With that jumping-off point, the movie certainly was capable of standing on its own two Blahniks.
Unfortunately, where episodes of the series used to take their cue from a question posed by one of Carrie's columns, writer-director Michael Patrick King never finds that focus, and "Sex and the City" loses its tart edge in the process.
In need of some serious tightening up, the flabby picture does what the old Samantha would have never done: It keeps hanging around, pushing for a long-term relationship.
There's still much to enjoy here, especially from the nicely honed performances of its four colorful leads (the more explicit stuff is carried out by secondary characters). And a trio of costume designers ensure that there's no stinting on all the equally important label action.