REVIEW: Yes, Sex and the City 2 Really is as Horrific as You've Heard

Movieline Score:

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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  • Ben says:

    The problem with this review and others like it is that it's central argument rests on the belief that the TV series was not cynical, exploitative, sexist garbage as well. But it was. No series, before or since, has ever worn it's hatred for it's core audience so proudly on it's sleeve.

  • ben says:

    How did that happen?

  • MrsQuint says:

    That's ok. Reading your comment five times will still be more entertaining than watching SATC deux.

  • Love Bites says:

    Who's Amanda?

  • VSparkles says:

    First Fans review of Sex and the City! Great clips! Our interviews Sarah Jessica Parker, Cynthia Nixon, Kristin Davis, and Kim Cattrall

  • Sarah Jessica Parker looked great in her Alexander McQueen black strapless dress and Philip Treacy hat at the UK premiere of Sex And The City 2 in London's Leicester Square. The movie reviews might not be brilliant but the girls brought out the crowds in London!

  • Fnarf says:

    Is it usual for the comments here to be from publicists and/or other bloggers pimping their terrible stuff? Desperate much?

  • sweetbiscuit says:


  • Maude says:

    Yes - Thanks for that, FNarf - the vacant, fatuous, publicistspeak demonstrated in these troll comment posts reveal where this tired, ugly TV/movie trend has come to a temporary rest. Do the people who make these films have barely veiled contempt for the people who buy the tickets for them?
    This is 'women's liberation' as consumerist, anti-intellectual, anti-Arab mind control.

  • Salon says:

    Isn't this critic the one from Salon? Did Salon finally fire her? It's about time!

  • Andy says:

    This critic was the only reason to read Salon.
    Andrew O'Hehir is a very thoughtful critic who keeps the quality of the movie department up, but Stephanie's reviews have always been the most entertaining.
    I'm glad that she's back in action over here.
    She had a lot of haters in her Salon days - Itseems they are beginning to come over to post their hateful remarks here as well. Why? I just don't get it.
    Regarding SATC - every negative review is a sign of hope that we are not completely brain-dead yet as a culture, not yet entirely sold to consumerist religion, though the cult of Apple suggests otherwise.
    Every time I see one of these women who still look up to these cartoon characters I feel angry and wish I could yell at them: "Please, wake up!".
    And there is still a frighteningly large female audience that continues to swallow this crap with great passion. There are still plenty of young women who think of themselves as Wannabe-Samanthas and - Carries. Very sad.
    SATC made me question women's sanity.
    If this ever was what modern women aspired to be like, then I don't want to have anything to do with women ever again.

  • Ordinary girl says:

    As I exited the theater last night past crowds of dolled up women holding martini glasses,
    I said to my spouse, "sometimes I'm embarassed to be a woman."
    BTW, we were there to see Shrek 4.

  • delacourte says:

    No,I haven't seen this film,but I did see the first one. It occurs to me that Michael Patrick King is the white Tyler Perry. He panders to the lowest common denominator,never gives his audience anything unexpected or intellectually stimulating,throws in a few big names for good measure, and rakes in the dough.

  • 44NGR8 says:

    What men,(FYI-whenever I say men, I mean including women who do not fit the "target audience" that created the multi-billion dollar series), apparently did/does not get, is that the series was/is based on what women honestly say about men, sex and the world. And no, I'm not a designer clad man-hater, just the opposite. Women instantly associated with the series because it's the first time that women were able to see a show that related to their lives and friends, but gosh forbid, these were things that were never said out loud to the publc-ever, where men could hear that they were not an "angel". They were NOT women who were perfect Mom/wives, who NEVER talked about sexual satisfaction, they were not the "Pefect Angels" women are hoped/supposed to be. They were REAL, and something that had never been put on TV. They didn't get up at 4:30am to exercize, make the kids lunches, dress professionally for their great Corporate jobs, have lunch with other women and talk only about what women should "morally" talk about if they were a "good girls", get home to create a fabulous dinner while helping all the kids w/homework and baths, still clean up everything and still be in time to satisfy their needs.(until then...innocent, but seductive, because that's the role we were put in) Another reason why it's made billions? You cannot dispute that hard fact.....Yes, those fab clothes women see in mags, are clothes we will never afford to buy and wear. It's a chance to see the clothes in action. Vanity? No, just the chance to see the ultra-expensive clothes other than a in still shot photo. And yes, the truth is that A LOT of the sex coments are exact phrases women have said to their VERY CLOSE FRIENDS, and it hit a chord with them. It justified their conflicts as to whether they were saying things that "perfect and innocent" women shouldn't. Yea!....they weren't different, and even if they haven't said this to besties, it was a chance to see others say what they would, if they weren't constricted by their ingrained "limit" as to what steps over the bounds of what you can and cannot say. THERE'S A REASON WHY the series and the SATC1 was a huge success (have yet to see 2). What is that REASON? Just because men (and wnita)do not understand "WHY" it was/is a huge sucess does not mean it's not valid. From the start men said "Do women really say and do this"? Yes, but it's secret stuff women say to each other! But for the first time, men got to hear the reality of what the women who fit this target audience actually said and did and was previously not-dared to let them know. Understandably shocked about this unknown territory, the women (who say and do these things everyday today) were vilified (as sluts, vanity hogs, NOT being an angel, etc....because they dared to be honest and say out loud what we've all been saying forever!! If or for SEX breaching that barrier, "Desperate Housewive's" and many, many oher sucessful money-making series that, (OMG!)actually talk about what a lot of women secretly say that men did not know, would NEVER be on air now. Any no, this isn't Disney-like shows, where they end learning from their mistakes, and turn into the ANGELS we are supposed to be. They have aged, and changed, but have stayed true to the initial REASON it appeals to so many. Honesty, never before allowed. "Now, I haven't seen #2 yet, and maybe they got off-base the fab clothes "draw", one of the reasons the Sex series/movies makes huge money. Despite any negative reviews, I will see it, and the movie will make money. It think the reviews would be more accurate, if the reviewed the actual reaso WHY the subjust allowed Sex to become a billion dollar money maker, rather than review "plots" and things that were never, ever a reason for it's sucess. Would you review an a action shoot em-up and talk about why the "Man-hero" shoes didn't match his outfit? So why talk about things that are relevant to the REASONS it akes so much money?

  • Remarkable contribution. Cheers a great deal. Yes !, it sometimes looks we are typing towards cyber-breezes…. then, anyone could leave a review that actually connects yourself to the outside world therefore you know you have a community.

  • Thanks for the nice writing. I will be returning.

  • Steve says:

    Actually made me want to throw acid in my own face.
    I'm sure the suffragettes are spinning in their graves

  • Mary says:

    This was horrible! I don't even know how the movie ends because I couldn't watch more than half 😀

  • James says:

    UGH UGH UGH....
    Well Im no even a S&C Fan and my lady made me watch this, I would rather spend 90 min watching static or the test picture...
    Maybe not, but they are stretching this story way to far. I hope they never revive this crap ever again.

  • Wow! I keep wondering how in the world a guy like so called "big" ends up with bradahow, the lady is horrible, resembles a witch, in Mexico she would be dumped as soon as she kissed the other guy, this only happens in the US where the woman are no longer playong their role and sadly the men resign to such low quality girls, a girl must be beautiful and a good wife and the man is the provider this has been since the behinning of the days only in tje US the men resign with low quality and horrible girls, it is awful just to watch these four old stupid ladies with super egoes. They should be extremely grateful that they have a man in their lifes still.

  • Christina Stewart says:

    I loved the show. Not the movies. Well actually I didn't like Carrie anymore in season 6. She is such a self centered drama queen. She is so spoiled. The way she treats Big. Why does he put up with it???? She tells him he knew she didn't cook and he needs to accept that. Oh but he comes home tired, after working all day to provide the luxuries, and she can't accept he wants to stay home and rest. I agree this was a lazy script. Aiden in Abu Dhabi? Seriously? And my beloved Samantha with her constant menopause and crassness. When the crowd of men surround her with her purse of condoms. Wth was that for? To show us how strong new york women are? That was just so distasteful. I cringed trying to get thru this stupid movie. I'll just stick to SATC episodes on Amazon. ????