REVIEW: Yes, Sex and the City 2 Really is as Horrific as You've Heard
As I suffered through the nearly two-and-a-half-hour runtime of Sex and the City 2, I kept asking myself: What might I have done wrong, in a past life or in this one, that I deserve to have my eyeballs seared by Sarah Jessica Parker's loony desert-princess getups? To suffer the agony of watching four actresses who have previously given me so much pleasure become undone by crap dialogue and, in one case, an overinflated ego? To gaze upon a couple of amazingly well-groomed camels and realize that they have better hairdos than the human movie stars astride them?
Even in the context of that lumpy, overpriced Birkin bag of stuff we call Hollywood product, Sex and the City 2 hits a new low of idiocy and crassness. There are lots of problems with mainstream Hollywood movies today: A tendency toward fast cutting as a substitute for clear action, storytelling that relies too heavily on dialogue and too little on visual information, an overall samey-sameness as studios desperately repeat any formula that has made them big money in the past. But Sex and the City 2 -- perhaps even more so than its 2008 movie predecessor -- is a sad and ugly example of how terrific television can mutate into something that feels a lot like torture porn. No, scratch that -- torture porn may be unpleasant to watch, but at least it's honest about its motives. And the clothes are less of a horror show.
There's very little plot in Sex and the City 2, which, like its predecessor, was written and directed by Michael Patrick King, based on characters created by Candace Bushnell (which were further fleshed out by Darren Star, creator of the HBO television series). But who needs a plot when you've got -- squeeee! -- cosmos and Louboutins and enough costume changes to outfit at least three separate amateur Gilbert & Sullivan productions? Sex and the City 2 proceeds not from plot point to plot point but from outfit to outfit, beginning with Parker's Carrie Bradshaw reflecting on her old, single life in the city (complete with flashbacks to 1986, represented by the era's ubiquitous big hair and bad sneakers). Flash forward to the present day: Carrie and her pals, Samantha, Charlotte and Miranda (Kim Cattrall, Kristin Davis and Cynthia Nixon) are attending the wedding of two of their dearest friends, Stanford and Anthony (Willie Garson and Mario Cantone). Carrie, the best woman, is wearing a man's tux and strangely crimped hair; later, she adds a black lace crown that looks like something the Wicked Queen in Snow White might have worn, just because she's crazy that way.
Other stuff happens: Carrie thinks her marriage to John/Mr. Big (Chris Noth) is getting a little too routine, never stopping to think that perhaps he's beginning to wonder how he found himself married to a woman who insists on wearing a bra and a nightgown to bed. Meanwhile, other women are not wearing enough bras: The friendly, capable Irish nanny Charlotte has hired to watch over her two moppets (a misused Alice Eve) has huge knockers and joyfully refuses to harness them into submission. Charlotte worries that her sweetheart of a husband (played by the refreshingly straightforward Evan Handler, who appears in far too few scenes) might be tempted to cheat, a thought that understandably distresses her.
In other news, Miranda is stressed out by a job she hates; apparently, King couldn't be bothered to come up with a reasonably sexy conflict for her to resolve. And although Samantha is going through menopause (much hilarity ensues whenever she suffers a hot flash), she looks as sexy as ever. She flirts with a rich sheik, who invites her to come to Abu Dhabi for an all-expenses-paid vacation -- he wants her to see what he calls the "new" Middle East. She wangles additional invites for her besties, and so this happy, chattery jumble of privileged white women arrive at the luxury resort where Mr. Sheik has set them up in lavish style, with private cars to take them anywhere they'd like to go and dutiful personal servants to peel their grapes for them.
But the women are very surprised to learn that even this "new" Middle East is very different from home. They slither from the rocks under which they've been living for the past 40-odd years to learn that many Muslim women wear the hijab, often complete with the niqab, which covers the mouth. Carrie looks at these poor dears with pity and condescension, using her brilliant powers of deduction to ascertain that this is a way for Muslim men to control their women. "It's like they don't want them to have a voice," she says with a small shudder, before we're treated to more scenes of the fab four cavorting in their sequins and silk jersey as they avail themselves of the nice digs and great food provided by the generous Mr. Sheik.
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