I have to admit that I’m one of a very few heterosexual males who enjoyed the HBO series Sex and the City. I liked the way the four main characters — Carrie (Sarah Jessica Parker), Miranda (Cynthia Nixon), Charlotte (Kristin Davis), and of course the wild Samantha (Kim Cattrall) all handled themselves. They were strong, confident women and didn’t care what other people thought as long as they were happy, and true to one another. I also found the show to be well written despite its superficial flaws, and it ended at just the right time, before people got Sex and the City burnout. So when I heard they were making a movie in 2008, I didn’t rush out to see it. Rather, I waited to watch it at home, on my couch, as I had with the show. And it worked just fine because it felt like four episodes back-to-back. Sex and the City 2 feels that way for about 90 minutes before falling to pieces for the other 56 minutes.
The film opens with recurring gay characters Stanford (Willie Garson) and Anthony (Mario Cantone) getting married in Connecticut (where gay marriage is legal). The wedding is ridiculously overblown and features a terrible Liza Minnelli performance of Beyonce’s “Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It)”. During the wedding and the days that follow we start to see cracks in the lives of our four main characters. Carrie and Big (Chris Noth) have been married for two years and with no plans for children they are struggling to keep the spark alive (all Big wants to do is watch TV and order in). Miranda is having problems at work with the new senior partner in her firm. Charlotte, who only ever wanted children during the series, is battling the “terrible twos” with her toddler Lily while dealing with her younger baby Rose crying non-stop. And Samantha is still alone, going after every man who will take her, trying to stop the aging process with vitamins and creams. It’s quite a sad (almost too realistic) state of affairs for the foursome.
A few weeks later and Samantha is invited to Abu Dhabi and in typical Sex and the City fashion is able to take her friends with her. With all expenses paid and no men or kids hanging off them the ladies embark on a luxurious vacation where they live it up eating, drinking, getting massages, and mocking the local culture. This is where the movie started to lose me and I began to dislike the characters. When they finally get to the inevitable I Love Lucy moment (where the women had to dress in niqabs and pretend to be Muslim women in order to escape angry Muslim men) I was completely tired of the girls and the movie as a whole.
My feelings are they shouldn’t have taken the characters out of their element of New York City. That was the biggest mistake. No one wants to see four middle-aged women running around the desert, falling off camels, making off-kilter remarks you’d expect from your grandmother. They should have also focused more on the issues that were brought up in the beginning of the film in a serious way instead of brushing it off with jokes and silly situations. I also think karaoke scenes should go into the same category as Guitar Hero scenes and never be shown onscreen ever again (see my review of Couples Retreat for more on that).
I didn’t hate Sex and the City 2 and will probably give it another chance when it comes out on DVD. And if they did wrap it up at the 90 minute mark I would be giving it a couple more stars. But unless they bring the focus back to New York, I don’t see the point in a third SATC film. In short, if you weren’t already a fan this is not going to convert you.
** out of 5 stars
ALSO OPENING THIS WEEK: Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, Micmacs, Ajami, Kites: The Remix
Top image: A scene from Sex and the City 2. Courtesy Warner Bros.