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."
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."
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.