Sex and the City 2

Posted on October 26, 2010 at 8:00 am

After two years as Mrs. Big, Carrie (Sarah Jessica Parker) admits that she’s feeling a bit too “Mr. and Mrs. Married.” Mr. Big (Chris Noth) wants to stay at home with take-out and cuddle while watching black and white movies on the big-screen TV he thought was a wonderful anniversary gift. But Carrie, who apparently wanted to get married because she thought it would be just like dating but better because she wouldn’t have to worry about whether the guy was into her, thinks they should be dressing up (and as we all know, that means DRESSING UP) to go to crowded events featuring red carpets, velvet ropes, and high, high fashion. Big wants to pass on that? Go figure!

That conflict is about as close as we get to a plot in the leisurely 2 1/2 hours of “Sex and the City 2” onslaught of fabulousness. When Carrie tells Big it is hard to keep “sparkle” in their relationship after a while, she is speaking for the highly lucrative franchise as well. Once we left everyone living happily ever after once in the television series and then again in the feature film, how many eggs are we really willing to unscramble to crank it all up again?

Not too much, which leaves us with about 150 minutes that feel more like an infomercial than a story.

The first movie ends with a wedding; the second begins with one. In the television series, Carrie and Charlotte (Kristin Davis) each had the fashion-forward divette’s most indispensable accessory, a gay man to serve as adviser, confidante and acolyte and to provide an endless supply of “you go girl” support and guidance. They hated each other on sight. But fabulousness requires that somehow, off screen, they decided they were in love. And so we begin with a wedding that makes over the top seem under the bottom. When a guest, observing the gay men’s chorus singing show tunes, the swans, and the “snow queen exploded in here” decor asks rhetorically if it could be any gayer, the answer arrives as the officiant turns out to be Liza Minnelli, who throws in a rousing rendition of “Single Ladies” after the vows. With a brief flashback to explain how the fabulous foursome originally met so we can see their 80’s looks (I predicted Miranda’s power suit with gym shoes look but not Samantha’s efforts to channel Lita Ford) the movie hits its high point.

To get the ladies and the story away from the dreariness of post-financial meltdown economic doldrums, the foursome jets off to a luxe week in Abu Dhabi (filmed in Morocco). The burka and camel humor (Charlotte actually falls off a camel) has the sophistication and cultural sensitivity of a Hope and Crosby movie. But there is a brief if awkward nod to global sisterhood and at least the Mideastern characters are played by Mideastern performers. The real fantasy here is not the endless spending power of the ladies or the objectification of the men; it is the way they eat and drink and loll around but still maintain their highly disciplined figures and radiant complexions.

The trip gives them many opportunities to change clothes (they put the “lug” into “luggage”). And it is here where the story veers into Lucy and Ethel territory and the puns get truly painful. Samantha (Kim Cattrall) worries about menopause (the movie makes some very dangerous endorsements of self-administered medications that have been called quackish and even harmful). Charlotte worries about whether her husband will be tempted by the nanny (the gorgeous Alice Eve as “Erin go braless”). Miranda wonders who she is away from her job. And who does Carrie run into on the other side of the world but the one who got away, Aidan (John Corbett).

It starts to get out of control more than once, but it continues to be grounded in what made the series work — the unconditional love and support of the four friends. On the other hand, we never see them providing any support to the men in their lives. Carrie’s insistence on going out is particularly poorly timed because her husband has had a difficult day at the office. She never makes any effort to understand what it means to him to have the market drop 100 points or to express anything but petulance and self-absorption. This movie is a grown-up equivalent of playing with Barbies and Carrie’s ideal man is an 8-year-old’s idea of what a Ken doll boyfriend (with operative ability) should be like. They are forever devoted, out of the way when not wanted, make no demands, look good in formal wear, and give lots of bling. We are supposed to find her endearing, but when she is with Big, she seems like a selfish child. Even the mistake she worries about is all about her, not about him.

And yet, I found myself smiling as I watched more than once. Writer/director Michael Patrick King knows it is not the fashion or the romance we tune in to see but the bond between the women who acknowledge that they are each other’s soul mates. It isn’t the fantasy of glamor and Ken doll boyfriends we respond to. It is the reality of women’s friendships, which we love to see recognized and appreciated.

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Based on a book Based on a television show Comedy Romance Series/Sequel

22 Replies to “Sex and the City 2”

  1. Hurray !!! You got it right. Most of the critics did not like the movie because deep down, they don’t get it. This movie, like the TV series, is about female friendship and facing the inevitable changes that a women goes through as she matures; it is about growing up and learning indeed what is most important after all the glamour and pretense is wiped away. For those of us who are devoted fans, the movie is great and continues to serve as a guidepost for all of us who are also “maturing” and finally figuring out what are the most important things in our own lives. Rock on!

  2. LOL. I know Christian women who rationalized seeing the original SATC movie because of what you call “the unconditional love and support of the four friends.” (Isn’t there a PG version in “Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants”?) Haven’t men long rationalized purchasing Playboy and other explicit magazines by saying that it’s all about the interviews?

  3. I’m
    thinking about taking my daughter, but is there full frontal male nudity? As in sausage and eggs? Thank you

  4. Jane, there is no full frontal male nudity but there are some revealing clothes that do not leave a lot to the imagination and there are very explicit and graphic sex acts. I’m recommending this for adults only.

  5. I guess that qualifies as sauce for the goose then, Kay. But in fairness, there are many sexy films that do not get the friendships right and don’t get the audience loyalty, either.

  6. I liked the film less than you did Nell. I found myself wondering if I would have enjoyed it at all, if it wasn’t for the fact that I loved SATC on television, and just enjoy watching the characters that populated that show. Carrie is the ultimate clotheshorse (and shoehorse?)… I get that. But are we really supposed to believe that she walks around her home in 4 inch heels and haute couture, even when there’s nothing going on? That seems like an excuse to show off the wardrobe budget and SJP’s fabulous figure. I confess that’s a nitpick.
    I think Samantha has been rendered into a one dimensional cartoon of a character: the walking sex machine. Let’s not forget, this is the same Samantha who is a breast cancer survivor and top flight business person. There’s no need to make the story solely about those characteristics, but the character is approaching parody.
    The product placement was simply too much at times. The close-up on the brand of coffee maker is just one example.
    The scene where they encounter some like minded women later in the movie, seems ridiculously improbable.
    If there’s a SATC 3, will I go see it? Sure. As I said, I loved the characters; but it starting to feel like we’re watching their less interesting identical twins.
    Question for your readers:My wife pointed out to me that I was one of only two men watching the movie, in a near full theatre. Anyone else have the same experience?

  7. Found Sex and the City 2, a rework of the same old news and time not well spent. I have all their dvd`s and it`s still on the TV, time to get a new plot and new writers, there are better looking actors out there who could use a chance ( esp. the women ). It`s summer time, go to the beach and get a tan and see the beautiful people in new style suits. Don`t spend 2+ hours in the dark making the rich and famous even more so.

  8. Thanks, Greg — your comment will be a big help to fans who are wondering if they should see this movie. I wonder if they will even try for another one.

  9. they are no longer the faces of naivete and buoyancy that is at the very foundation of the premise of satc. without that, the show/movie doewn’t work.
    the satc girls faces are sagging…and that’s just a fact, jack.
    the franchise has become a cash cow…hey make bucks …times are tight…but just don’t call this movie staying faithful to its premise.

  10. Thanks, Foxfire. I am certainly willing to follow the characters as they have to deal with different challenges, but this movie was a disappointment.

  11. Ugh! This really was painful. I think a photo shoot of the 4 together would have been better, but of course, it wouldn’t rake in box office money. These women are easily at grandmother ages and yet we’re supposed to find it funny that they act like twenty somethings. The self indulgence, intolerance, narcissism and constant babble are way too much. In the real world occupied by the women that are supposed to like this movie, we survive daily disappointments at home and the office without taking over-the-top trips to countries that have no respect for human life. In the real world, one of these women would be happy to have a legitimate marriage rather than crying over a missed premiere, one would have multiple STD’s, one would be w/o a good job for a long time and one would be thanking heaven that her bratty children were healthy. Loved the show, tolerated the movie, felt embarrassed to be at the sequel.

  12. Agreed on all points, Linda — I came close to giving it a lower grade for all the reasons you listed. It’s too long, too glutted, too self-centered (a problem I always had with the show, especially Carrie). But I was won over enough by the authenticity of the connection between the four of them to give it a B-. I appreciate your comment, which will be a big help to those looking for guidance about whether to see it.

  13. Hi, Nell. There was a moment over Memorial Day weekend when I was tempted to go to SATC2 with my mother. Then I remembered the previews, and read a few reviews on “rottentomatoes” and decided to go with my initial impulse and avoid it.
    I was a fan of the series in reruns on the CW, and enjoyed the first movie, but I felt at the end of the first SATC that the series was played out. My feeling was, “Carrie can never break up with Big again, and neither of them can die in an accident or get a deadly disease.” Other than avoiding those pitfalls, I wasn’t sure that there was a rational for a new SATC movie. From the previews and reviews, there doesn’t seem to be.
    Also, Stanford Blatch is a quiet, sweet and unassuming person and would never marry the obnoxious, loud and retrograde Anthony Marantino. Opposites may attract but this is ridiculous. Just because there are two recurring gay characters in SATC doesn’t mean they have to marry each other. They should have hooked Stanford up with his sweetheart from the series.

  14. I think a lot of people made the same calculations you did, Alicia! And I agree that Stanford and Anthony are not a believable couple. I remember when Charlotte and Carrie fixed them up and how outraged they were that anyone would think they would get along! Thanks for a great comment.

  15. Hi, Nell. I saw “Sex and the City 2” over the weekend, and, while it was not as terrible as I thought it would be, it played more like half a movie (the first half) and an extended vignette (the second half). I agree completely that Carrie seemed utterly self-involved (bonding with “the help” doesn’t help) but the major damage was to the character of Samantha.
    The idea that a PR professional would visit a foreign culture (Middle Eastern or not) and exercise less self-control as a 2-year-old child in public was just unbelievable. Not only did Samantha’s character lose all credibility, but she seemed to have only one thing on her mind, and she seemed otherwise utterly vapid. I have no objection to the exploration of different types of sexual morality, but Samantha seemed like a parody of what used to be called a “nymphomaniac.”
    On the plus side, I actually found myself touched by the wedding scene. The actors playing Anthony Marantino and Stanford Blatch convinced me that they were in love, and the best awkward (and provocative) moment in the movie was the reaction of all the married couples when Anthony said that Stanford would let him cheat.
    The portrait of Abu Dhabi sketched in the extended vacation vignette didn’t seem inaccurate, just not very deep. I wish Michael Patrick King had concentrated on the New York setting and a more serious exploration of the issues raised early in the film, instead of trying to do too little (or was it too much?) in Abu Dhabi.

  16. Very insightful as always, Alicia. Agreed on all counts. Samantha always teetered on the brink of being a cartoonish figure except when she had to cope with cancer or show her loyalty to her friends. In this one, she was over the top, and that is the fault of the writers, not the actress. Her weird obsession with the Suzanne Somers quackery felt very un-Samantha to me. It would have been much more interesting to see her take on aging with the same gusto she shows in the rest of her life.

  17. Exactly, Nell. There was nothing wrong with Kim Cattrall’s acting in this movie, and she looked great, but the writers did a great disservice to her character. It would have been wonderful to see her cope with lowered sexual desire by exploring, “If I am not a sexual being, who am I?” or some question of that type, instead of acting like a lunatic. She was always a blunt spoken woman, and I agree that she probably wouldn’t be into the Suzanne Somers thing.

  18. I like Big’s taste in movies! “Talk of the Town,” and “It Happened One Night” are two of my all-time faves.

  19. I loved this movie! I saw it with my sister and we laughed throughout the whole movie. People are giving this movie bad reviews and taking it too seriously! it is, after all, just a movie.

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