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The stunning box office take of 2008’s cinematic adaptation of the cable sitcom Sex and the City was heralded as a strike for feminism everywhere.  After summers filled with Transformers, Terminators, comic book heroes and other testosterone-driven bombast, the unexpected success of the big screen adventures of Carrie, Miranda, Charlotte and Samantha was a big heads-up to Hollywood that if you give the ladies what they want, they will come out to the pictures in droves.

Sadly, outside of a few bad movies about shopping, cooking, schmaltzy romances and sparkly vampires, there hasn’t exactly been the windfall of quality female-oriented projects that one might have hoped since then.  So, with all the anticipation of a new Birkin shipment at Hermčs, the world’s women awaited their chance to slip back into Carrie Bradshaw’s Jimmy Choos with the arrival of Sex and the City 2.  Unfortunately for these ladies, this waste of celluloid isn’t worth the blisters.

Here’s the low-down; now into the “terrible twos” of their marriage, Carrie begins to question her life of domestic bliss with her hard-sought Mr. Big (now mundanely referred to as John).  His enjoyment of the peace and quiet of a simple evening on the couch, watching TV with the Mrs. grates on the easily bored Carrie.  Well, you can’t keep M(r)s. Excitement down for long:  A business trip calls Samantha to Abu Dhabi on an all-expense paid excursion of luxury, which of course, our resourceful PR maven was able to finagle to include her three besties.  Off the girls fly across the Arabian Desert, leaving all their loves and cares behind, but not their amazingly extensive wardrobes.  That’s pretty much it. 

There’s some hodgepodge about Carrie bizarrely running into an old love in the middle of the Abu Dhabi bazaar and the predictable temptations therein.  However this is clearly not the focus, because for more than two-thirds of the film we are treated to the girls essentially posing in a very, very long commercial (2 hours, 24 minutes) for United Arab Emirates tourism.  Of course, you do have nyphomaniacally-inclined Samantha along, so naturally there will be some sitcom-like international incident as the girls end up having to run for their lives to keep from being stoned in the middle of the marketplace.  By the time this happens, you’re kind of rooting for the fundamentalists. 

Almost an insult to the very audiences that made the first film such a phenomenon, this movie has ‘cashing in’ written all over it.  There is almost nothing to recommend it, not even the clothes.  None of the charm, heart or fun so evident in the original film ever made it past the velvet rope on this sorry sequel.  There is simply no reason for this movie; the film is utterly pointless.  Beginning with a gay wedding where the main characters reel off lame puns and seem to wait for canned laughter, the comedy here is as scanty as Samantha’s morals.  Actually, the only good scene in the movie occurs here, with Liza Minnelli turning up to officiate and later perform a snazzy version of ‘Single Ladies’, working Beyonce’s Bob Fosse-ripped moves as if the director himself was whipping her 64-year-old bones into shape. 

I hope I don’t shock anyone by revealing that the major demographic for Sex and the City is women and gay men; I note this because I found it terribly disturbing that the locale chosen for this luxury getaway is in the United Arab Emirates, where homosexuality is punishable by imprisonment and death, and women are still second-class citizens required to hide behind the burka.  All the failed jokes and unrealistic stances for American feminism – including one character defiantly brandishing her Costco-size pack of condoms and an uncomfortable-looking, excruciatingly cringe-worthy, “I Am Woman” karaoke production number – can’t wash away that stain.  Why the filmmakers chose to situate this story here out of any place in the world is a real question.  Mind you, while set in Abu Dhabi, filming actually took place in Morocco because the production was not allowed into the UAE.  Still, upon the ladies’ arrival in the Middle East, there is a good twelve minutes spent showing off the incredible lavishness of Arab tourism.  After the first six minutes or so, I was waiting for a phone number pop up on the screen advising me to make my plane reservations to the “new Middle East” today.  The lack of a real reason for all four of them to be there other than just an extreme getaway from their domestic woes makes this whole excursion even more bizarre and uneasily contrived.  Regarding the rest of the screenplay, there is absolutely nothing here we haven’t seen before, and in some cases, as with Carrie’s boredom and wanderlust, makes what’s meant to be a plot all the more pathetic.  Everything feels false and regurgitated and there’s not one honest laugh or emotion in the entire affair.  

The combined appeal of the Fashionista Four is still formidable despite being trapped in this unfortunate film:  Cynthia Nixon warms up nicely in an improvement over the last outing and Kim Cattrall still manages to devour her scenes regardless of the stale, forced puns emitting from her blood red lips.  On the other hand, Sarah Jessica Parker tries her darndest, but chained to this awful script, Carrie is simply charmless and unlikable.  Being certainly old enough to know better, the character’s whingeing on about losing “the Sparkle” she and her newish husband have, when all the man wants to do after a busy day of making millions is spend time with his wife and relax, comes off as tiresome, selfish and bratty.  In a further show of the film’s off-ness, it’s also strange that New York City, practically the fifth cast member on Sex and the City -- and the town in the flipping title -- has less face time than Liza M.’s cameo with most of the scenes there shot in small flashbacks.  Next time, stay home ladies, there’s no place like it and no place for this movie in anyone’s summer viewing season.

Shame on the writers of this soulless drivel for trying to pass this Canal Street bootleg sow’s ear off as a genuine Alexander McQueen silk purse.


~ The Lady Miz Diva

May 27th, 2010


Click here for our far more favourable review of 2008's Sex and the City .




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