DVD Review – Sex and the City 2

Sex & the City 2

Technically I am the exact demographic for Sex and the City 2 – a 40 something woman with chequered dating history, found love late, long-term relationship, kid. I consider myself to be smart, witty, relatively stylish and savvy. A film that shows women united in friendship should therefore me right up my street.

However, if I’m the women that the producers of this flick were aiming for, if they think that I’d actively enjoy this vapid, vacuous, insulting toss, then shoot me now. Because if I’m that person then there’s no hope for me.

Despite what critics would have you believe, these women weren’t caricatures in the TV series. The characters were actually well rounded, throughout the entire run lives changed, lessons were learned, the ladies grew up. The cancer stories, Samantha as lesbian, Charlotte’s weird marriage to Kyle McLaughlin were all fantastic. It was never a show solely about shopping and f*cking.

Which is why this movie is such a disservice to fans. This is the epitome of all the jokes that people make about Sex and the City being about shallow, selfish, mercenary, sex-obsessed women. All those sweeping generalisations actually made flesh.

Starting with the gayest wedding in the world (how gay is it? Liza Minnelli is officiating the ceremony, and then singing and dancing to All the Single Ladies afterwards), the film lurches into the plot, such as it is.

Carrie and Big have been married 2 years, he wants to snuggle up on the sofa and watch old movies, she wants sparkle. Meanwhile, Charlotte is having problems with youngest daughter Rose, going through terrible twos, whilst worrying about her whether her husband Harry will have an affair with the hot Oirish nanny. Miranda is hated by the new Senior Partner at her law firm to the point where she feels she has to quit her job. Samantha is going through menopause with the help of a Suzanne Sommers self-help book and a shed load of natural remedies.

After the premiere of ex boyfriend Smith’s latest movie, Samantha wangles a stay at a new and exclusive hotel in Abu Dhabi for her and her gal-pals. Before you can say “Seriously, you asked a potential client for an all expenses paid jamboree for four?” off they go. Miranda determined to have fun, in the same way that Butlins’ staff want to make your trip memorable, Charlotte worrying about her marriage, Samantha dealing with the menopause without pills and lotions, and Carrie bumping into Aidan. You remember Aidan? The bloke she treated like shit. Twice.

Suddenly they’ve all become so shrill. Poor Cynthia Nixon mugs her way through every scene, her face pulled into rictus at every possibility. Kristin Davis is called upon to cry prettily and only do that. Meanwhile Kim Catrall, her face made up into some kind of death mask (why? She’s still gorgeous) has taken Miss Samantha Jones into a whole new realm of parody. Samantha was always the fun one, but here she comes across as desperate and aggressive. It seems a real betrayal of who she is. While I’d never expect her to end up monogamous or be shy and retiring, there’s a rotten element to the way she acts in Abu Dhabi, bereft of any class. It isn’t her rampant sexuality that’s offensive; it’s the terrible way we’re beaten over the head with it. The line “He’s Lawrence of my Labia” is bad enough, but her complete refusal to show any respect for local customs and moirés is genuinely upsetting.

Sarah-Jessica Parker’s Carrie is churlish and spoilt. Any witty lines she has here feel extraordinarily laboured, and the sparkle that Carrie craves so desperately for her marriage is certainly missing from SJP’s performance.

Nothing rings true here, not Sam calling the girls her soul mates, not the dire “I am Woman” karaoke the girls perform, and certainly not the encounter between Aidan and Carrie which makes her realise “there’s no place like home”.

Even the conversation between Charlotte and Miranda about how tough motherhood can be, which comes closest to real life, has Miranda pulling all kinds of faces rather than any honest emotion or acting.

As for the encounter between the girls with the ladies of Abu Dhabi who are all wearing the latest couture fashions under their black robes, it’s one of a number of jaw dropping moments of poor taste that focus on the differences between Arab and American culture.

The film runs at well over 2 hours too which thanks to poor pacing feels like a small lifetime. You’re left wondering what was the point? of it all? Miranda voices the opinion that “Western men would be happier sometimes if Western women had no voice”, which is so sweeping and so dismissive that I left aghast. But it’s not just men who are treated badly, any women other than the quartet is marginalised, looked down on, seen as a threat or otherwise abused. It’s a poor sisterhood that excludes all others.

The film was proclaimed critic-proof on release and expectations are that it will do well on DVD if the constant TV spots are anything to go by. But seriously gents, is this really all you think of your missus?

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~ by moviegrrlreviews on December 4, 2010.

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