“Sex and the City:” Here’s to the fans

Story stays

Story stays

close to home,

drama goes Big.

Nothing pulls the sequined sling-backs out of the closet like an elite Manhattan event, and Friday night there was one of those happening at just about every movie theater in every town in the country. The opening of “Sex and the City: The Movie” may not have curb appeal to the Average Joe, but there were plenty of Average Janes, some dressed in above average fashion, amassed at local cinemas for the much anticipated reunion of Carrie Bradshaw and Co.

That’s right, the girls are back in town. In fact, they never actually left it.

“Sex and the City: The Movie” takes place four years after the HBO series’ credits last rolled in 2004. Like the rest of us, Carrie (Sarah Jessica Parker), Charlotte (Kristin Davis), Miranda (Cynthia Nixon) and Samantha (Kim Cattrall) have moved on since we last checked in, with relationships, kids, careers and great outfits hanging in the balance.

In the spirit of the night, I attended the movie with my own trio of pals, each of us wearing some fabulous footwear of our own. Chatter from the mostly female audience filled the air like the snapping of blue studded Manolo’s on a New York City sidewalk. And as I sat waiting for the previews to begin, it was in true Carrie Bradshaw fashion that I couldn’t help but wonder … was this even going to be any good? Would our great sexpectations be rewarded, or were we about to get a TV-turned-movie flop about as tranquilizing as “Bewitched?” Sure, show producer Michael Patrick King is back and in the writer’s and director’s chair. But where should we draw the line? When it comes to a good thing, how much is too much?

While I was at it, I had to question the obvious: Would Big and Carrie make it for the long haul? Would Charlotte finally become pregnant like she’d always dreamed, and had Miranda survived these last four years of motherhood and marriage living in — gasp! dare I type it? — Brooklyn? Finally, would the whole of Manhattan’s male populace ever be the same with Samantha off-the-market, living monogamous in Los Angeles — and like a shark that can’t stop swimming, could she actually survive that way?

Answers to these queries and more are given throughout the movie, which plays like an extended episode of the show. While it’s nothing that will land in the movie halls of fame, it’s certainly just what series fans were hoping for. The plot smacks of familiarity, as a wedding, an affair, a breakup and a pregnancy unfold. And knowing Samantha, there may or may not be some jaw-dropping bedroom acrobatics.

Going bicoastal and bringing back many of the show’s original side characters, the movie poses a few questions of its own: Can there be happily ever after 40? When it comes to love, is forgiving and forgetting enough? And for that matter, is loving yourself truly most important?

Chris Noth, Evan Handler, David Eigenberg and Jason Lewis all resurrect their significant other roles, and new to the mix is Carrie’s assistant, played in a sweetly show-stealing performance by Jennifer Hudson. The movie dabbles in its usual comical spriteness, but takes a few surprisingly dramatic turns. It certainly doesn’t shy from exposing the downs — not just the ups — of its heroine’s fantastical lives. And another new character is found in a certain closet, which plays an integral role in the Big and Carrie saga that might just fulfill the secret fantasy of every clotheshorse on earth.

Clearly made with fans in mind, “Sex and the City: The Movie” isn’t one for those unfamiliar with the series. Then again, it may just inspire them to pick up the DVDs and give the first round a go.

But the one thing Carrie, Charlotte, Miranda and Samantha taught throughout their six devoted years on the small screen rang true once more. Whether in finding love, losing it or just clinking cosmos on a Saturday night, there’s at least one thing you can never have too much of. One thing, sappy as it sounds, that will never go out of style. Stripped of its glitter, in its own way the movie raises a toast to friendship. Because like stepping out in a favorite pair of shoes, that’s the one thing you can count on time and time again.