Against my better judgment and in spite of awful reviews, I went to see Sex and the City 2. As a huge fan of the HBO series, I felt I needed to experience it. But what I saw wasn’t an edgy comedy with heart, like the show was. What I saw was one of the worst examples of flat characters, awful screenwriting, and American ethnocentrism that I have ever been unfortunate enough to witness.
In the second cinematic installment of SATC, the girls journey to Abu Dhabi when Samantha Jones’s (Kim Cattrall) PR magic scores them all free stays at a luxury resort. They all have something to escape: Samantha’s menopause, Miranda’s (Cynthia Nixon) work woes, Charlotte (Kristin Davis)’s “terrible twos”-ridden daughter, and Carrie’s (Sarah Jessica Parker) ho-hum marriage. While in the United Arab Emirates, the four friends ride camels, enjoy man-servants, and do karaoke. Carrie also serendipitously runs into old flame Aidan (John Corbett) in the midst of her boredom with husband Mr. Big (Chris Noth). Of course, the girls all learn the obligatory life lesson, and they head home to view their problems in new ways.
There isn’t much to praise here, but I’ll certainly try. It was a relief to finally see Charlotte have some real problems, since she’s apparently spent the last five to seven years in a blissful haze. Davis brings some much-needed reality to the emotional breakdowns Charlotte has due to the stress of her baby daughter. Nixon also exhibits good acting; a difficult task with this stinker of a screenplay.
When Charlotte and Miranda sit down to have a chat about motherhood, there is a flash of the old days of SATC – the girls sitting around a restaurant table having coffee and discussing the details of their lives. Sadly, it’s the only moment like it in the entire movie. I’m still on the fence about my feelings on Liza Minnelli performing Beyonce’s “Single Ladies” after marrying the most unlikely couple in SATC history.
In general, the film is just bad. The screenplay is insipid, the acting wooden, and the cheesy moments far too cheesy. Carrie squealing over beautiful $20 shoes? Expected. Charlotte falling off a camel in an attempt to get service on her iPhone? Moronic.
This movie exhibits an acute lack of self-awareness so awful that even complex characters like the SATC girls come off as totally self-centered idiots. In that aforementioned motherhood conversation, Charlotte earnestly asks, “How do women do it without full-time help?” In a discussion about burqas, Miranda comes to the realization that “it’s like they don’t want [women] to have a voice!”
Each of the heroines is portrayed as a parody of herself. If Samantha’s buzzword in the first movie was “Botox,” in this one it’s “hot flashes.” Charlotte’s traditional ideas about love are now translated into the same disapproving facial expression over and over again. Miranda alternates between control freak and party animal. And Carrie is a flighty mess who almost throws away eternal happiness because her husband likes to watch TV in bed.
The most cringe-worthy moment in this two and a half-hour shipwreck is when Samantha’s intolerance of other cultures comes to a head. Days after getting arrested for sex in public, she thrusts wildly on a street while waving condoms around, offending everyone around her, and most people in the theater seats. When the women run from the throng of angry religious people, they are ushered into a secret room. A group of women in burqas offer them shelter before exposing the designer clothes underneath their robes. The message here seems to be: inside every Middle Eastern or Muslim is a mainstream American just waiting to bust out!
If you’re like me, you’ll see Sex and the City 2 simply because it completes something you already love, no matter how poorly this is actually done. If you have no interest in this movie’s predecessors, don’t bother. You’ll be bored, annoyed, and probably offended.