Directed by: Michael Patrick King (Sex and the City)
Starring: Sarah Jessica Parker, Kim Cattrall, Kristin Davis, Cynthia Nixon, Chris Noth
Days before sitting down to watch Sex and the City 2, I read a breakout quote for the movie from Dean Richards of WGN-TV (note to moviegoers: if a film has to go to TV critics for its quote-whoring needs, approach the movie with gloomy foreboding). Richards called the film “An oasis of glamour and extravagance in tough times.” I found this repugnant, until I remembered we pulled ourselves out of the Great Depression with sparkly dresses and vaginal humor. After actually watching the movie, I’m not inclined to agree with Richards. Sex and the City 2 resembles something more akin to the “oasis of horror in a desert of boredom” that Baudelaire once wrote about.
At a whopping, monstrous 146 minutes, the film chronicles the minutiae of four women from New York City and the trials and tribulations of their uneventful relationships. Carrie (Sarah Jessica Parker, looking more and more like Ming the Merciless with every film), the supposedly famous relationship writer, is worried there’s no spark in her marriage. Charlotte (Kristin Davis) is afraid her dumpy husband (Evan Handler) will somehow bed their “way out of his league” bra-less nanny (Alice Eve, She’s Out of My League). Oversexed Samantha (Kim Cattrall) is fighting off the onset of menopause, while Miranda (Cynthia Nixon)—well, Miranda doesn’t have much to do except be shrill and insipid, which she’s aces at.
None of it’s very interesting, and stretched and pulled across two-and-a-half hours, it’s downright frustrating. Right now, as I type this, I only dislike the movie. As time moves on and the more I think about it, I have the hunch I’ll soon detest it. The characters are all of the same mold: shallow, selfish and materialistic. And even this might be less infuriating on a base level if the movie just left it there. But no, it needs a message. Since much of the movie is spent in Abu Dhabi (the women are there on the dime of a hotel-owning sheik), the movie tries to turn itself into a feminist tract on the oppression of women in the Middle East, complete with a karaoke rendition of “I Am Woman.” The only problem is that the film’s real message seems more to be saying that oppressive, sexist Middle Eastern states are A-OK—until they take away your free hotel room and threaten you with flying coach home.
The movie has more than one mixed message, with all of them being egregious in some way. The gay wedding at the beginning of the film is supposed to show how progressive everyone is, except all the homosexual characters in the film are treated like a separate class and are all stereotyped. No, it’s not a wedding they’re attending, but a “gay wedding,” as we’re told ad naseum. There are endless gay jokes, punctuated by a horrific appearance by Liza Minnelli performing “Single Ladies.” Almost all of the gay characters are treated like they are some sort of extravagant lap dog or accessory for rich women. None of this shallow behavior is really all that surprising, however. We’re talking about a movie that opens with Carrie justifying the Dutch swindling the Manhattan Indians out of the island with some beads because it led to her existence.
There’s nothing about this movie to recommend. Most of the story is told through the four women sitting around at lunch, spewing the kinds of awful puns that make Gene Shalit look like Oscar Wilde. The direction is flat and the story line is laboriously dull. Fans of the show probably won’t care, but everyone else, beware. Rated R for some strong sexual content and language.