Monday, May 31, 2010

Movie Review: Sex and the City 2

Sex and the City 2 *
Directed by:
Michael Patrick King.
Written By: Michael Patrick King based on the book by Candace Bushnell & television show by Darren Star.
Starring: Sarah Jessica Parker (Carrie Bradshaw), Kristin Davis (Charlotte York), Cynthia Nixon (Miranda Hobbes), Kim Cattrall (Samantha Jones), Chris Noth (Mr. Big), David Eigenberg (Steve Brady), Evan Handler (Harry Goldenblatt), Mario Cantone (Anthony Marantino), Willie Garson (Stanford Blatch), Liza Minnelli (Herself), Alice Eve (Erin), Lynn Cohen (Magda), Penélope Cruz (Carmen Garcia Carrion), Omid Djalili (Mr. Safir), Raza Jaffrey (Butler Guarau), John Corbett (Aidan Shaw), Max Ryan (Rikard Spirit).

I was never a big fan of the show, and thought that the first movie was merely average and way too long. But I have seen enough Sex and the City to know that at its best, it is capable of being both smart and funny. It started out as a show about four financially and sexually independent women in New York who had a lot of money, and enjoyed spending it on the finer things in life, but also dealt with issues that women – no matter what their economic background – could relate to. The show was daring in showing women who were happy being by themselves, even as they searched for a husband. You got the impression that if they never did find anyone, they would be okay with that. Of course, over the course of the series run, they felt the need to match all the women – except for Kim Cattrall’s Samantha – up with someone, but still, again at its best, the show dealt with things intelligently.

Unfortunately Sex and the City 2 is nowhere near the best that the show that the show is capable of. Instead, it gives into the shows worst tendencies – and simply shows four whiny women complaining about their lives, which are so much better than most peoples, then heading off to Abu Dhabi to try and offend the Muslim world. I know some people have complained that the film is anti-Muslim, but I think that’s giving the movie far too much credit. In order to be truly offensive, some thought would have had to go into the movie, and there is no evidence that any did.

The movie starts out with a huge gay wedding – between Carrie’s best gay friend and Charlotte’s best gay friend – perhaps because they felt they didn’t want to add in any other characters. The wedding is a huge production, with Liza Minelli performing the ceremony, and then getting up with two back up Liza’s to sing Beyonce’s Single Ladies (which as horrific as it sounds, is actually one of the comic highlights of the film).

From there the movie starts out kind of promising – as it brings up issues for each of the four women which, if dealt with intelligently, could be both comic and insightful. Samantha (Kim Cattrall) is going into menopause, and is trying to trick her body with creams, vitamins and hormones. Miranda (Cynthia Nixon) is having trouble with her new boss – a sexist, and feels that she has hit the glass ceiling which is still all too real for many women. Charlotte (Kristen Davis) is struggling with being a mother, and all the stress that comes along with it, and worries that her Irish nanny (Alice Eve) maybe too attractive, and too braless, for her husband to resist. And finally Carrie (Sarah Jessica Parker) is struggling in her marriage to Mr. Big (Chris Noth), who wants to stay at home in their brand new apartment and watch old movies on TV, instead of taking her out to a fancy restaurant every night. The horror of being her.

The problem with the movie is that as soon as these issues are introduced, they are jettisoned until the finale of the movie where we are assured that everything worked out fine. Instead, we get the four ladies heading to Abu Dhabi, to stay in a $22,000 a night suit courtesy of the hotel owner who wants Samantha to represent the hotel from a PR stand point to convince Americans that Abu Dhabi is even better than Dubai. What we get for the rest of the movie is lame jokes about falling off camels, women in Burkas and the restrictions on sexuality that are part of being in a Muslim country. Oh yeah, and Carrie just happens to run into Aidan (John Corbett) in the marketplace over there, and old feelings start to creep back in.

I suppose I cannot really blame the movie for not getting serious into the real lives of these people. Although Mr. Big is some Wall Street hotshot, the recession is never mentioned, and everyone still seems to have a hell of a lot of money. The filmmakers obviously decided to try and make some sort of escapist comic fantasy of a movie for people to forget their problems (for 2 hours and 24 minutes by the way – at least 45 minutes too long for this type of thing).

But the movie doesn’t even work on that level for a simple reason. None of it is funny. There is not a line of dialogue that causes a genuine laugh (although a few are so horribly bad that you laugh because you cannot believe anyone wrote them, and the actress did refuse to utter it). The situations are not funny, and the actors all seem bored. They have spent so long playing these characters that I have a feeling that they simply want to move on.

Worse yet, you don’t even like the characters any more. Especially Carrie who comes across as such a spoiled whiner that you cannot imagine why even Big (who has always been a bore) would want to put up with her any longer let alone anyone else. I wanted to grab her and scream that not everyone eats out every night, or gets hugely expensive jewelry all the time, when they already have more than enough. Big wasn’t even asking her to cook – he either did it himself, or brought back take out – and not Pizza and burgers, but stuff from Sabu! Get over yourself damn it! Charlotte is almost as bad complaining about how hard it is to be a mother of two, when she has a full time nanny. Most mothers have to put up with a hell of a lot more than she does, and do so without so much whining. And if you’re stupid enough to wear designer clothing to make cupcakes with a five year old, you deserve what’s coming to you.

I believe it’s time to retire Sex and the City. It will be remembered as a groundbreaking television show, beloved by women the world over. But I cannot believe there are too many women out there right now who would enjoy this movie. It represents the worst the series was capable of and then some. It is one of the very worst films of the year so far.

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