Reviewed: Sex and the City 2

06Jun10

Carrie and friends return for yet another round of cosmopolitans, wrestling marriage, motherhood and menopause. But the real question is, do we want them back or have the four Manhattan gals outstayed their welcome?

I hate to be the bearer of bad news but yes they have. Watching these movies is like watching a loved yet slightly past it family pet drowned in front of you while you’re tied to a chair, looking on in helpless, agonising horror.

Sex and the City 2 picks up two years after the first movie: Carrie (Sarah Jessica Parker) and Big (Chris Noth) are still married; Miranda (Cynthia Nixon) is juggling her home life with her career as a lawyer; Charlotte (Kristin Davis) is sinking under the pressures of motherhood and Samantha (Kim Cattrall) is a walking chemists, staving off menopause with as many tablets and creams as she can cram into her eager cheeks.

The film kicks off with a wedding. The set is straight out of a 50s musical, there are swans and white everywhere and even a male choir singing show tunes. A big neon sign begins to manifest: this is a gay wedding. Just to hammer home this subtle vignette, Liza Minnelli officiates the ceremony. Apparently passing out of Judy Garland means you are automatically ordained as a minister in the church of gay. Harmless fun I hear you cry. Granted but nothing will prepare you for the sight of Ms Minnelli (64) singing and dancing her way through Beyoncé’s Single Ladies. At this point, my heart began to sink.

I am woman, hear me gag: the SATC ladies hit the karaoke bar

After another run in with her dismissive boss, Miranda quits her law firm and can finally make her son’s school events. Charlotte is crying in cupboards over dealing with the demands of a screaming toddler and a little girl who dares to muck up Mummy’s vintage Valentino while Samantha is quite comfortable smearing age defying creams on her intimate regions in full view of her staff. Carrie in the mean time has turned into a kept woman.

The scriptwriters can try and fool me by telling me she writes books but there’s barely a snifter to be seen. Carrie’s previous life as a columnist and freelance writer is almost entirely gone, replaced by the occasional mention merely to move the plot along. Instead, she spends her days decorating the apartment only to cajole and guilt-trip her husband into leaving it as often as possible to wine and dine her. Big’s more interested in nights in with takeout, watching old movies with his wife. Carrie nags and whines about them becoming just another bored married couple, so Big suggests that maybe they take a few days a week off. “Is this because I’m a bitch wife who nags all the time?” Yes Carrie, yes it is.

But with all these problems mounting up, surely we need a flimsy plot devise? Help is at hand. PR guru Samantha is offered an all expenses paid trip to Abu Dhabi courtesy of a rich sheikh with a hotel to promote. The four ladies are whisked off first class, arriving to a fleet of cars, personal butlers, and a private suite worth $22,000 a night. Here is your bedroom – gasp. Here is the salon – gasp. Here are your servants – gasp. Here is your private bar – gasp. It’s a miracle the tour didn’t kill them.

The women go on spa days, shop and ogle some menfolk etc, but the real story here is how much you grow to hate them, particularly Carrie and Samantha.

Carrie is a chore throughout this film. Snippy with her husband, at times nasty to her friends, she even goes to dinner with her ex dolled up to the nines, flirting with him disgracefully after reading a scathing review of her latest book. It’s blatant that she’s using him to make herself feel better, basking in his praise and enjoying every moment of the attention. While the Carrie Bradshaw of the TV series struggled at times to get by, movie Carrie wants the big apartment, the huge closet, the massive wedding. Now she wants sparkle every minute of every day. She’s selfish, contrary and just a little paranoid.

Samantha has turned into a grotesque caricature of herself, desperately clinging to her libido with lotions and potions, her dialogue peppered with abysmal puns and double entendres (“Lawrence of my Labia?” Oh please). Female self expression is one thing, whapping your cleavage out by the pool in a conservative country simply because you’re used to having your own way is quite another. Her frankness may have once been charming, but pretending to fellate a hookah for the erection-inducing delight of her male companion while the patrons try and eat their dinner in peace is not helping the cause. Charlotte and Miranda at one point even make a toast to women who don’t have full time nannies. Who can relate to these women anymore?

And that’s before I get to the ham-fisted cultural stereotyping. I’m quite sure the writers thought that moving the action to Adu Dhabi would give them a chance to present their take on the issue of women’s rights in the region. In reality the film comes across as intensely disrespectful almost suggesting that really all Middle Eastern women want to be just like this lot.

This is summed up when a scantily clad Samantha drops the contents of her handbag, condoms and all, in front of a crowd of men then gestures to the now-angry mob graphically what she does with them. The group is then rescued by some veiled women. The writers skirted making a point about women like them lacking a voice earlier in the script, only to completely destroy any point they were trying to make by having these women cast off their robes to reveal the spring collection underneath. Lookie ladies, underneath all those robes these women want to be just like us. Yay fashion. I remained stony faced. High-handed, offensive and thoroughly insulting to its audience’s intelligence, unless you’re the type of person who believes all that Johnny Foreigner needs is a bit of Western civilisation. Or frocks.

This is not a film for anyone who enjoyed the TV series. The sassy, liberated career women of that show are gone. And it’s not a question of an audience expecting characters to stay the same. Carrie once said ‘I cannot stay single for you.’ And we didn’t expect her to. The women who married, married good men and for solid reasons and while Carrie ended the series coupled, what came later was her business. What the movies have done is lobotomise these characters, distilling their most obvious and irritating characteristics into 2+ hours of twaddle. With cocktails.

Carrie and the ladies in better days

The films are in fact for people who hated the series. Those who believed it was entirely filled with rutting and overpriced shoes. A vapid fashion show written to further enrage anyone who rolled their eyes at its very name. Oh no, you don’t watch that show do you? Everything that has been levelled at the series in criticism has been distilled and amplified tenfold: Shallow consumerism, self- centeredness, opulence and decadence for its own sake. The film grabs you with both hands and rubs your face in it. It’s a misogynist’s paradise, full to the brim of ugly female clichés.

The script is clunky, the plotting worse and character development is non-existent. I fail to see how any cinema goer, regardless of his/her (but let’s face it, more likely her) interest in the series could see this desperate and wholly repellent addendum to an otherwise witty and fun series as anything more than vacuous nonsense, accompanied by ludicrous frocks and a bad taste left in one’s mouth.

I urge, implore and heartily dissuade anyone from going to see this nightmare of cinema. Do it for me, your blood pressure and to rule out any possibility of a SATC trilogy.

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2 Responses to “Reviewed: Sex and the City 2”

  1. I know this might be a bit late – but I wanted to let you know that I think this review is amazing, and entirely accurate!

    I watched this film (out of morbid curiosity) and felt embarrassed (would men watch this and think this is what women are like?), as well as offended by the complete disrespect for another culture. When the women dressed in robes took them off to reveal that they were ‘fabulously dressed’, I was tempted to up and leave right there.

    Exactly as you said, I think the film turned all the characters into unlikeable caricatures of themselves that no ordinary woman could ever relate to.


  1. 1 In Defence of Sex & the City. | The Early Bird Catches the Worm

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