Movie Review: Sex and the City 2
By Matthew Huntley
June 3, 2010
Before I get into the meat of Sex and the City 2, I have to admit I went into this movie not expecting to like it. What reason would I have? I didn’t like the original and I never watched the HBO TV series. Plus, the world of SATC never really appealed to me because of how superficial it seems. There’s just something off-putting about four Manhattan socialites whose lives revolve around clothes, comfort and storybook romances.
I’m not saying these things don’t play a pivotal role in our culture and that people aren’t allowed to take them seriously, but the very idea these women gauge the significance of their lives on such trivial matters seems wrong and immoral, which is why they garner no sympathy or interest from me. To me, SATC promotes a fantasy exclusively for women that should not be a fantasy for anybody.
With that said, I never imagined Sex and the City 2 would be this bad. It’s bad not only for the reasons above (although they do play a part); it’s bad on a purely entertaining and film making level. Story aside (we’ll get to that in a moment), the movie fails on the basis of simple storytelling. I’m sure that after the original made so much money, writer-director Michael Patrick King was given carte blanche to do anything he wanted for the sequel, but he and the attractive cast should all be ashamed of themselves.
The characters are all the same. Carrie (Sarah Jessica Parker), the narrator, has finished her latest novel and is experiencing what she calls the “terrible twos” with her husband, Mr. Big (Chris Noth), who’s about as dull and uninteresting as they come (he speaks relentlessly slow); Samantha (Kim Cattrall), horny as ever, swallows 44 pills a day in an effort to trick her body it’s younger; Charlotte (Kristin Davis) is being driven crazy by her two daughters and sometimes locks herself in the pantry just to cry; and Miranda (Cynthia Nixon) decides to quit her job because of her chauvinistic boss.
Essentially, the movie is about the next chapter of these women’s lives, which, to be quite frank, aren’t that interesting. They’re all going through changes, but we feel so disconnected from or bored by their dilemmas, they don’t really matter to us. The movie doesn’t break new ground by suggesting marriage and families can sometimes feel like work instead of pleasure. These women are so spoiled that it’s hard to sympathize with them, let alone buy them as real. I don’t think I want to know women whose biggest ordeal is not having enough closet space. I know: pain is relative, but the movie doesn’t try to make us understand what they’re going through or put us in their shoes.
To get away from it all, Samantha secures the group an all expenses paid trip to Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates, to which she says, “Let the decadence begin.” Like most people probably will be, I was appalled by the movie’s nerve to think we’d actually want to watch four well-to-do, pampered women be even more pampered - in the Middle East of all places! We see them courted around in four separate luxury cars; waited on by four separate butlers; order fancy food and drinks; sit on soft pillows; and wear new designer clothes in every subsequent scene. Yet, we don’t really get the idea they’ve worked for any of it. I know it’s supposed to be an all expenses paid trip, but what irks me is the movie promotes this self-indulgence without any hard realization that some people have it worse than they do. It’s sort of disgusting.
And why oh why did the filmmakers think it would be a good idea to set the movie in the Middle East? Or, as Samantha says, “The new Middle East”? On one level, I like the idea of seeing the Middle East in a light beyond what we see on the news - that it can actually be considered a vacation spot - but the movie completely ignores the current political climate and has the audacity to see Middle Eastern culture as a foundation for cheap jokes and skin-deep social commentary. In one of the movie’s worst scenes, Samantha drops her bag and a handful of condoms fall out. She screams, “Yes, I have sex!” and gestures the act of fornication as Arab men point at her with disdain. I’m all for the movie challenging ideals in a respectable way, but this is about as tasteless and unfunny as it gets. Did the filmmakers expect us to cheer?
I mentioned earlier the movie fails some of the basics. If you were to categorize SATC2 into a genre, it would likely fall under romantic comedy. But the only thing funny about it is how King thought his screenplay was ever good enough to film. The dialogue is outrageously bad, with lines like, “We have a lot to Abu Dhabi-do!” and “He’s the Lawrence of my labia.” Uh-huh. And how about the slowness of the picture? The movie has no sense of rhythm or competent pacing. It plods along and never builds toward anything exciting. With a runtime of 147 minutes, you can imagine how painful it becomes.
The movie’s one good scene has Charlotte and Miranda sitting at a bar and venting their frustrations about being a mom. That at least had some spark and insight, but it’s hardly enough. The rest of the movie is full of bad writing, bad acting and shameful egotism. It’s disturbing to think studio executives ever gave this a pass into theaters. Still, I’ll give Sex and the City 2 some credit - it makes it very easy to think of the worst movie of 2010.