Once upon a puddle-soaked tutu, Carrie, Miranda, Charlotte and Samantha were the perfectly-coiffed gal pals I turned to when I needed a glam fest/innuendo-laden pick-me-up. That spark(le) faded slightly after the first movie and its saggy sap-fest of a mid-section, but regained some shine thanks to the designer-meets-diner finale. When I left the theatre this time around however, I couldn’t help but wonder… if our our once-glittery relationship had finally fizzled out.
Sex and the City 2 is miles away from the show I loved, literally and figuratively. It’s been two years since the last cinematic update and with the exception of Samantha (even in menopause, the girl’s a sex machine), the gals seem to have gotten, dare I say it, crotchety. Carrie, for example, gets her lacy panties in a bunch when Big suggests they snuggle up and watch an old black and white movie together on their brand-new flat screen. Boo hoo.
In addition to flaking in the personality department, there’s not much (New York) city to go with this Sex. Within minutes of hearing Alicia Keys sing the praises of the “concrete jungle where dreams are made of” over the opening credits, we’re whisked away to Connecticut for Standford and Anthony’s wedding. There, we’re treated to a gay stereotype sample platter (I mean that in the best way) featuring all-male choral groups, swans and Liza Minnelli (actually). Despite the country locale, these scenes are very reminiscent of the show, with plenty of glamour, giggles and guest appearances to shake your empty cosmo glass at. Things get messy again however after we take an all-expenses paid flight to…Abu Dhabi.
That’s right. In order to regain some of their signature sass—and help Samantha get in with a PR contact–the girls pack up their bedazzled turbans (not joking) and strappy scandals and jet off to the United Arab Emirates. The first bit of the trip is overpriced, oversexed and overtly alliterative fun (Butlers! Burkas! Beautiful soccer players!). There’s even a side story involving Aiden (John Corbett), a.k.a the Carrie boyfriend that got away. Unfortunately, it’s not all puns and former flames.
High on vacay confidence, the fab four decide they need to add self-righteousness to their ensembles. These girls don’t know their Sheiks from their sheiks, but for some reason, they think they’re qualified to analyze Middle Eastern culture. In one scene, Carrie practically cries at the sight of woman eating a french fry under her face-covering veil. This overdramatic lunch chatter soon turns into a mission to show Abu Dhabi that everyone should have the right to bare arms (and legs and boobs).
At their hotel’s karaoke night, the fab four make a direct jab at the oppressed ladies, performing the girl-power anthem, “I Am Woman.” Later, Samantha turns a hookah pipe into a makeshift dick, sucking it off in front of several disgusted locals. She also waves her condoms at the townspeople and get arrested for PDA.
The storyline is meant to give the cocktail-toting masses something to think about, but it just feels completely out of character, not to mention rather racist and ill-informed. They try to make up for the awkwardly self-righteous detour in the final act, revealing that underneath their body-hiding burkas, the local ladies are just like us, designer scarves and all! It’s as cringe-worthy and inaccurate as it sounds.
At one point, Carrie asks Big if she’s become a “nagging bitch.” I don’t know if I’d go that far, but by forcing a half-baked women’s rights agenda down our throats, Carrie and co. have transformed themselves into million-dollar mirages of their formerly fierce selves. If director/writer Michael Patrick King keeps this act up (you know he’ll try for one more sequel), I may have to start fashioning my break-up Post-It. C
Starring Sarah Jessica Parker, Kim Cattrall, Cynthia Nixon and Kristen Davis. Directed by Michael Patrick King. 146 minutes. 14A