Thursday, May 27, 2010

"Sex and the City 2:" Gag me with a Vintage Rolex

By now, it's just too easy to trash "Sex and the City 2," the plot of which is "Four aging girlfriends grapple with sickeningly privileged lives and take a vacation to Abu Dhabi."

After all, Roger Ebert has already flung some choice zingers.  For example, insipid protagonist Carrie Bradshaw's milquetoast hubby Mr. Big offers little but "a Manhattan apartment that looks like an Architectural Digest wet dream." The four friends' outrageous and slutty clothing displays "more cleavage in this film than at a pro wrestler's wedding."  And the guys poolside at the friends' eye-splittingly ornate Abu Dhabi hotel turn out to be "the Australian world cup team...which seems to have left its cups at home."

I'd seen the first Sex and the City film, and found it mildly enjoyable, as Carrie (Sarah Jessica Parker), Samantha (Kim Cattrall), Miranda (Cynthia Nixon) and Charlotte (Kristin Davis) grappled with life issues like commitment, loyalty, and a vacuous career.  I'm a sucker for weddings like Carrie staged in the first movie, but this second go-round has no punchline like that, and the problems these people face--a nanny's boobs bounce too much, menopause hormones get temporarily confiscated, a cliche boss is dismissive, and marital ennui encroaches--make these unidimensional consumers look like cartoons in overly-colorful, flowing garb, with matching headgear.

The symbols of their issues are too cutesy:  a bored marriage is an engraved vintage Rolex versus a TV in the bedroom.  The challenges of parenthood are a three-year-old who cries non-stop, and a five-year-old who puts two strawberry-jam handprints on her mom's white vintage Valentino pants.  Workplace woes are a law-firm honcho who quiets his associate by raising his hand in her mid-sentence.  Menopause is reduced to a pile of pills and creams and the annoyingly repeated product-placement of Suzanne Somers' hormone books.

The New York Times review was much less entertaining than Ebert's, but does recap the film's lame laugh lines, "unlikely to make you chuckle even if your best friend said them:" "Inter-friend-tion?" "Bedouin bath and beyond?" "Lawrence of my labia?" Groan.

It's worse than groan. The moral messages of this movie are, frankly, disgusting.  Even the somewhat happily married characters can't see the disconnect between their seeming values and the behavior of their dearest friends.  Carrie self-righteously can't bear to hold the "secret" of an old boyfriend's impulsive kiss from her husband, but just smiles when Samantha's promiscuity is so randy and rampant it nearly gets her put away in a Muslim prison.  Despite the near-incarceration, by the way, Samantha soon has the sex she desires, and we get to see it, too. The movie's rated R, as in "raw."

Then there's the message of materialism. I'm a fan of it, actually, but certainly overlaid with a humble acknowledgement of its source. There's not even a casual chat about God or religion, other than to tout feminism's triumph over Islam, shown when a gaggle of Muslim women giggily reveal their designer clothes under their eye-slit-only burquas.  In case you didn't know they were liberated, the frisky four offer a ham-handed Muslim put-down, rousing their Mid-Eastern audience to their karaoke "I am Woman."

There's so much to detest in this movie, there's a temptation to get catty, asking why dogfaced Sarah Jessica Parker is considered attractive, or why an endless tour of a hotel suite that looks like a belly-dancing bar would soak five minutes' screen-time. Or why the thing opens with sad-looking Liza Minelli performing an irrelevant, flashy gay wedding replete with white tuxedo'd man-choir.

Though the film has a couple flippant mentions of the economic downturn, its cloying insistence that Americans are still enamored with the Housewives of New York, instead of pitying them, is mistaken.


  1. I can understand your negative points about the film, however I think a true fan will still enjoy the film regardless.

  2. ellie, I agree that true fans will see this movie regardless of its flaws because they have deeper associations with the long-running and superior TV show. They'll overlook an awful lot just to reclaim the enjoyment of watching the series.

  3. Having never watched the tv show or having seen the first movie, I am shy to comment...but I will anyway! This movie just looks like an attempt to trot out the characters once again to cash in on their franchise. I hate obvious attempts to grab a laugh that arent even clever. I'm sorry...the scene that's in the trailer "Can you hear me now? Can you hear me now?" has been WAAA-AAY too many times. Thank you for your reliable reviews - I love seeing this kind of movie through your eyes. =)