Sex and the City 2


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While the appeal of Sex and the City might not be waning amongst its die-hard fans, the overall quality – and cultural sensitivity - certainly seems to be.  The latter is ironic considering this is the series that – in the late 90’s - embraced homosexuality, bisexuality, and heterosexuality; all issues handled with sensitivity and honesty.  Starting with a wedding for two of its most beloved homosexual characters, Michael Patrick King’s Sex and the City 2 continues to celebrate social differences but, suddenly, manages to find itself – after wonderfully celebrating the excess of a glammed-out 80’s - speechifying to the Muslim culture in an appalling and naive manner.

Returning to the fold of the celebrated series are Sarah Jessica Parker, Kim Cattrall, Kristin Davis, Cynthia Nixon, Chris Noth, and, surprisingly, John Corbett as Aidan Shaw (Carrie’s ex), but the storyline which presents the girls’ issues - marital, menopausal, and maternal - is simply melodramatic.  The cast might have had a fun time filming the sequel, but that fun simply doesn’t translate easily onto the big screen this time out.  Even cameos from Liza Minnelli, Miley Cyrus (REALLY?), and Penelope Cruz can’t help the girls out this time around.  Beginning with the same burst of cinematic energy of the first (the diamond-freckled cityscape of Manhattan), the film, post opening credits, quickly bubbles into oily story gimmicks and displays the worst sides of these characters (without simple recognition of their flaws); consider this feature on par with the worst of the television show’s moments (a show of which I was a fan of).

This was supposed to be a fun picture; this was supposed to be a gift to the fans for celebrating the first transitional movie; this was supposed to bring out the same intelligence of the first, but it nosedives into a paltry mess.  Playing to the stereotypical norm of American callousness, the usual intelligence of King’s writing comes across solely in stupid puns for Carrie’s monologue to trip over.  Most of the comedy in this bloated and overlong sequel misfires and, in doing so, reveals that these beloved characters are just plain ignorant, selfish, and lame.  For example, in one of the film’s self-congratulatory moments, the ladies do karaoke and sing (to an audience of Muslim women) “I Am Woman” and, instead of inspiring laughs, the comedic moment (I believe this was to be a highlight in the movie) is one giant misstep of arrogance.  The girls have done nothing but insult the Muslim culture with their need for shoes and high fashion yet - at the end of their singing - they get a standing ovation from its people.  Huh?  No wonder we have relationship “issues” with the Middle East.

The ten cent philosophy behind the girls’ adventures in the Muslim world is fashion magazine logic at its worst; they aren’t the ones who need to change…everyone else needs to.  It’s the Americans Abroad consciousness in action and, without meaning to do so, King’s script justifies the critics who berated this show from the beginning.  Maybe, unlike Carrie and the company she keeps, American audiences will outgrow the need for her spin on relationships and fairy tale endings - complete with ruby-tipped shoes.  Maybe.  But, with the international spin on this one, it is highly doubtful the series will be retired anytime soon.

Ultimately, what made the TV show memorable and meaningful was the wonderful friendship between its four female leads and, while Sex and the City 2 has its moments of female bonding and betraying, King certainly rolls a jumbled pair of unsatisfactory dice with a grating series of overstuffed storylines that, ultimately, has his liberated women visiting the restrictive environment of the Muslim world only to act the part of American fools.