I don’t know where to begin. Perhaps with the sense of repulsion, betrayal, and disappointment I felt after I struggled to remain awake for the midnight opening of “Sex and the City 2.” Or maybe the flagrant disregard and insensitivity to Arab and Muslim culture. No, I’ve got it, the utter lack of plot. This 146-minute festival of overdone fashions, forced comedy that fell flat on its face, and frivolous dialogue left a bad taste in my mouth. Even my five inch silver peep-toe Stuart Weitzman pumps, entirely encrusted in crushed Swarovski crystals, were disappointed.
I went into this movie with high hopes of glamor, the declaration of unfaltering friendship, and life-like struggles of characters we’ve seen evolve from silly, uncertain girls into mature women in real relationships leading fulfilling and meaningful lives. Alas, what ensued after the previews was an incessant barrage of unnecessary whining, faux problems that were never fully presented and never wholly resolved, and an array of awkward and ridiculous dialogue that fell like a ton of bricks out of the characters’ mouths. Why producer Michael Patrick King and the gang felt the need to make another movie after the first one converged their stories into a beautifully-composed package tied with a neat and crisply perfect bow is beyond me and any comprehension I possess.
Directed by: Michael Patrick King
Starring: Sarah Jessica Parker, Kristin Davis, Cynthia Nixon, Kim Cattrall, Chris Noth
Within the first 10 minutes we are treated to the Connecticut wedding of once-enemies Anthony Marantino (Mario Cantone) and Stanford Blatch (Willie Garson). This old Hollywood movie musical-inspired scene is something out of the extravagant guidebook to weddings. Top hats, tuxedos, musical numbers, and none other than Liza Minelli, the holy grail of gay culture. Minelli, playing herself, was the wedding officiant and performed a cabaret-style (no pun intended) number to Beyonc©’s “Single Ladies” with two lookalike backup dancers. It was actually one of the more entertaining points in the movie. When best man Carrie Bradshaw (Sarah Jessica Parker) is chatting the night away with Anthony, he loudly explains that they are getting married because he will be allowed to cheat in his marriage. When Carrie brings it up to Stanford he confirms, citing that every relationship is different. Interestingly enough, it’s as if the movie condones cheating, with “make your own rules in your own relationship” being a theme in the first movie. I’m all for individuality and forgoing labeling and trying to be happy whatever way that may be, but I’m sorry, if you are planning on cheating before the hors d’ouvres are even passed out at your own wedding, why the hell are you getting married? The whole point of marriage is stability, consistency, and fidelity; unless I’m missing something here, is it just to file taxes together and have someone to share your petty thoughts out loud with?
On the wedding night, Samantha (Kim Cattrall) sleeps with Anthony’s gorgeous brother Nicky, Charlotte (Kristin Davis) and her husband Harry are kept wide awake to the shrill screams of their daughter Rose while they share the bed with her and adopted daughter Lily, while Carrie and Big try to drown out the noise they must endure while sandwiched in between the aforementioned guestrooms with a romantic old black-and-white movie. Honestly, if you need birth control you should watch a clip with Rose in it, she really is an obnoxious toddler.
Miranda (Cynthia Nixon) is the only character I can stomach throughout the entire movie. She quits her job after becoming completely fed up with the way her male superior treats her disrespectfully on a constant basis, even giving her “the hand” during a meeting involving several partners and other coworkers. It is one of the only female empowerment moments in the entire film. Her relationship with Steve seems to be completely open, honest, and happy while she does the one thing she never allowed herself to before: put her family first. It seems it was 100 percent the right choice for her.
Carrie is disgruntled with her relationship with Big. After two years of marriage she feels they have lost their “sparkle.” She wants night after night of red-carpet movie premieres and openings at impossible-to-get-into NYC restaurants and all Big wants is to cuddle while watching television after he cooks them a lovely dinner in one of their TWO apartments. After 10 years of wanting nothing but utter commitment from Big she has it, and is unsatisfied. I understand that being in your 40s and 50s makes you an active part of society and there is no reason to stay in every night, but it has been my experience that once you get married things do change, even if just slightly, as you spend more time doing everyday activities with your significant other. And there is absolutely nothing wrong with that since you made a commitment to fully be with another person (I will note I am unmarried).
It just seems that Carrie doesn’t want to let go of her single life and cannot embrace getting older. Samantha is truly in denial about her age as she takes a cocktail of pills, hormones, and creams to fool her body into believing it is younger by staving off menopause. Just seems unhealthy to me.
When we catch up with Charlotte, she is overwhelmed and stressed with the burden of having to care for and pay attention to her two daughters. I should mention she is a housewife with a full-time nanny and is married to a wealthy lawyer. They live in an extravagant and epic NYC apartment. Oh, the woes of privilege. It really is embarrassing to watch her character have an utter breakdown when Lily gets red frosting hand prints on her vintage white Valentino skirt. It’s a skirt, who cooks in designer clothes, lady?
I feel I have to stop a minute to mention I am the biggest fan of “Sex and the City.” I have the DVD special box set of all six seasons in all its pink suede glory. I saw the first movie twice in 13 hours at the theater, and was emotionally affected both times. I am not one of those women who can take it or leave it, I am emotionally invested in these characters and feel a strong connection to the plot, dialogue, and plight of these women. Correction: felt.
Back to the matter at hand.
At Samantha’s ex-boyfriend, Smith Jerrod’s (Jason Lewis) movie premiere, Samantha meets the Middle Eastern businessmen who want to treat her to a trip to Abu Dhabi in the hopes she can perform a PR miracle, as she did with Smith’s career, for one of their hotels. She gladly accepts, so long as she can take the gals, which she indeed does. This sets us up thinking they are going to spend a week exploring a new culture and people and have wildly fantastic adventures. What we get is an almost impossibly luxurious hotel experience which may as well have been a mirage. At this point I’m hoping the fact I’m at the movie in the middle of the night is a mirage as well.
A personal butler for each of the girls, as well as their own sedan, is that really necessary? I understand the point of extravagance isn’t about need but rather about flaunting superfluousness, which hey, there is nothing wrong with, but when I take a vacation with my girlfriends I want to be in the same car with them and not have four foreign men waiting on us hand and foot (well, that part might be acceptable). The hotel is gorgeous and the girls indulge in poolside meals and ride camels through the desert and eat with a bedouin tribe in the middle of the sand dunes. It’s all well and fine but it seems that only Miranda has done an ounce of research into the country they are visiting and gives due diligence to the fact that women wear more conservative attire in the Middle East.
Needless to say, many faux-pas ensue, and lo and behold, who does Carrie run into in the middle of an old world Arabian souk (marketplace) but none other than her ex-fianc© Aidan Shaw (John Corbett), while she abandons a shoe shop, her spices and her passport (I was the only one in the theater to actually notice this when it happened). He is as handsome and charming as ever as they catch up and make tentative plans to have dinner while they are both in town, halfway across the world from where their romance started. When Charlotte warns Carrie of the possible dangers of going to dinner, it seems that Carrie wouldn’t go to this dinner if she felt anything would happen, she fought so much for Big and to just squander it away because she is bored is unfathomable … or is it?
Needless to say, they have dinner, and she wears a gorgeous dress with a slit up to her waist (I kid you not). It’s literally time for these characters to start acting their age; this is just inappropriate whether in Abu Dhabi, NYC, wherever. And then as they walk and talk about his three sons and their respective happy marriages, they kiss. Oy. Total hand to the forehead in confusion. She feels guilty, as she should, and sprints off into the night and back to the hotel where she immediately consults the girls. She ends up calling Big the next day and telling him on the phone that she kissed Aidan and it meant nothing. He curtly gets off the phone, seemingly apathetic.
Charlotte and Miranda have been having cocktails and letting loose on how difficult it is to be a mother and wife and deal with everyday burdens. Again, I really just cannot empathize with Charlotte; maybe someday when I have kids. Miranda offers up a toast to women who handle their families and lives everyday without full time help as the two of them have. “I just don’t know how they do it.” Growing up with a mother who worked full-time my entire life, attended every dance show, track meet, play production I was in, and cooked a homemade meal every day of the week I know that not only can it be done, it can be done with gusto. However, it seems privilege and wealth make you a little less strong when handling “commoner” problems. I was really frustrated.
I’d have to say I did think it was hilarious that Samantha got arrested for “kissing” a dishy Dane in the dunes. As Miranda forewarned, men and women do not embrace in public in the Middle East and the hospitality of Sheikh Khalid abruptly ends after this fiasco. We find out the hotel is $22,000 a night that the girls must pay for from that night onward, so they pack in a hurry and head to the airport. Gone are the glimmering cars and handsome chauffeurs; they are replaced with decrepit taxis, transportation that the rest of the world has to take. How utterly pedestrian and beneath these glamorous women. Only one small problem: the idiot Carrie has lost her passport. They return to the souk where the kindly and adorable older shoe shop keeper won’t accept payment for holding onto her passport (he is so cute and sweet, it warms my heart for the elderly).
As they finally try to weave their way through the streets of Old Abu Dhabi to try to make the new flight and still be on first-class, because god forbid they are in coach, Charlotte gets lured by someone selling watches into an upstairs area filled with what we must presume is fake bags and Rolexes. Again, they were forewarned about this, but Charlotte is like a child that has spotted something shiny, since all she can think about while they try to make their escape back to New York is getting souvenirs for Harry and her daughters. Needless to say they could’ve been in a much worse situation as the men let them leave without buying anything. However, once they hit the streets everything starts falling apart as Samantha’s purse flies through the air spilling condoms. Not to mention she is clad in shorts and a tank top because they confiscated her pills and creams upon arrival at the airport and she is getting hot flashes (clearly your body is ready for “the change,” accept it.) There are dozens of male onlookers who become infuriated with this flagrant sexual exhibition and begin to cajole and follow the girls. Samantha flips out and is giving the finger left right and center and saying she has sex (in a not so polite way), and is absolutely in a rage.
I have to say this scene was unrealistic because as sad as this truth is, had this actually happened, she would have been beaten and murdered. I’m sorry, but you do not enter a country and blatantly and loudly scream your opposition to its culture. You wouldn’t walk into a Catholic church and yell about the reasons pro-choice is important. It’s just a matter of respect for your surroundings and people. Of course there are millions of different opinions in the world and everyone is entitled to his own, but you have to have self-awareness in the situations you put yourself in.
Burka-clad women rescue them as they motion with their eyes to follow them into a quiet room right off the street. After all, this is a movie and we’re already at the two hour mark. The women remove their burkas, showing off their couture clothes from Christian Dior to Louis Vuitton, and happen to be reading the same book in their book club that Samantha was back home in New York. So we’re not all so different the girls realize, we just live our lives in a slightly different way.
Finally back home, Big doesn’t come home for nearly a day and when he returns he has a punishment for Carrie. She has to wear a gorgeous black diamond ring so she can “remember” she’s married. Is this real life? You get a piece of jewelry for cheating? It seems outlandish that he is not a little more upset; albeit, the kiss really didn’t mean anything, as she has no desire to speak to or see Aidan at all after their encounter.
Charlotte is happy to be back home but takes a “vacation” from her life every once in a while retreating to Carrie’s apartment for respite. I didn’t realize married life and motherhood was something you needed a vacation from after you just took an actual vacation 6,000 miles away. Miranda gets a job at a wonderful firm where she loves her coworkers and they are having a meeting on some gorgeous roof deck and laughing and smiling. Samantha has her way with the Dane on the Fourth of July on the hood of his Jeep. Correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t that against the law here in the United States as well?
The fashions, always one of the main components, if not a character in and of itself, was extreme, and while at times beautiful and elegant, at some low points it was hard to distinguish the line between fashion forward and costume wear.
All seems right with the world as the unrealism continues with the girls’ perfect little endings. It seems to me this movie should never have been made and Sex and the City’s reputation would never have been blemished because of it. If there is a third movie I won’t be able to do anything but look on in horror as the car crash bursts into flames. While I was completely displeased with the second movie, I’m still a fan of what Sex and the City was up until this point. For now I’ll just have to retreat to my DVD set and the first movie in the hopes of maintaining those good feelings.
For something that was ever so fabulous for a decade, the lack of substance is just too much in the movie. My sparkly Stuart Weitzman shoes are retiring until my trip to Vegas.