When I first left the theater after seeing Sex and The City 2, I pretty much hated it and felt it was not as good as the underwhelming first movie from 2008. Now that I’ve had a few days to think about it, I don’t hate SATC2. I still think it sucks and I still think it’s worse than the first movie, but there are some noteworthy, entertaining bits in it.
The premise of the movie is basically that the ladies go to Abu Dhabi (filmed in Morocco though) for an all-girls, ultra-luxury vacation as they all try to sort out their NYC-based issues. Carrie and Big are having marital “problems,” Miranda still struggles with juggling family and career, Samantha is fending off menopause and Charlotte is finding that motherhood sucks from time to time. I like the moments that show the deep bond the ladies share and that decadent, way-over-the-top wedding at the beginning of the movie is fabulous in every way (minus one big thing, but I’ll get to that later). The parts in the movie that irk me have to do with toxic levels of extreme campy-ness and a lack of NYC, the fifth main character in the HBO series. If you are interested in a vapid display of gross consumption and you don’t care too much about plot (which is fine, no judgment), this is your movie.
My full review with SPOILERS is below.
In my review of the first SATC movie, I created different sections to discuss each of our four friends and the other big parts of the movie. I think that worked well, so we’ll do that for SATC2. Shall we? Let’s.
The Grand Opening Sequence
SATC2 opens with flashy shots of NYC on a blindingly sunny day. The camera eventually zooms in on the Empire State Building as the Jay-Z/Alicia Keys mega-anthem “Empire State of Mind” plays. It’s a wonderful tribute to New York. Summers in the city are an awesome thing that make you feel like anything is possible. Somehow, the opening sequence captures that. Carrie steps out of her building in gold sunglasses, a mature but flirty summer white dress and outrageously beautiful shoes. It’s the Carrie we know and love. A promising start.
The Big Gay Wedding
Pretty much everything about this movie is on steroids, so of course the wedding between Anthony and Stanford is the biggest gayest wedding you have ever seen. I actually love most of the wedding. The swans, the moat, the Broadway-style choir of tuxedoed hotties (kinda reminds me of a splashy 1940’s musical) and of course the fact that Liza Minnelli officiates the ceremony, puts this wedding on a whole ‘nother level of stereotypical gayness. (Perhaps I should note that writer and director Michael Patrick King is a gay man himself and seems to be “extra” with everything in this film not just the wedding.) The only part of the wedding scene that makes me cringe is Liza Minnelli’s rendition of “Single Ladies.” I LOVE Liza, I do and I hope that when I’m 64 I can do a fraction of the choreography she does in her scene, but she does not sound good at all. That’s all I’m gonna say about that. Though I like the wedding scene, its annoying that it is almost pure adornment. Anthony and Stanford disappear from the movie completely.
Marriage With Embroidered Sleeves
One overarching theme in the movie is that marriage is what you make it. Stanford and Anthony have something of an open marriage, Big wants two days off from the marriage every week, Steve encourages Miranda to quit her job to be at home more and Charlotte feels a bit overwhelmed with family life even with the help of a bra-less nanny. I like the basic idea that each marriage/relationship is one that only the two (or more) people involved have to understand. Miranda’s storyline is barely there, but basically believable and Charlotte’s issues are more with mommyhood than marriage. But Carrie and Big’s marriage is so unrealistic to me.Two years into the marriage, Big is content with vegging out on the couch and Carrie has a major problem with that? Carrie was Big’s mistress during his last marriage. Big made Carrie have a lackluster city hall “wedding” in the last film. They have been together for about 12 years on and off, married for two and now we are to believe that the biggest problem in their marriage is that Big wants to be at home with Carrie all the time? Ummm, okay. I’m concerned that two people who have been together for over a decade still communicate like 20-somethings who don’t really know how to effectively express their needs.
Big is downright doting (now) and seems most concerned with making Carrie happy. That two-day break thing is classic Big though. When Carrie encounters Aidan, that’s a real opportunity to bring depth to the bubblegum-thin storyline. No dice. They share a kiss in an “exotic” country. Carrie’s pow-wow with her girlfriends somehow does not include obvious issues like whether or not Aidan was just wanting to get back at Big or if Carrie had any thoughts about Big cheating (if she has time to do it, he does and he did request two nights “off”). Truth be told, I don’t like Carrie and Big together and even with the whole “marriage by your own rules thing,” I still don’t find their marriage to be remotely plausible or desirable. It seems like the writers want us to root for Big and Carrie and I don’t want to do that.
Motherhood Kinda Stinks
The whole bra-less nanny thing is pure schtick, but I like the conversation Miranda and Charlotte have about motherhood. I don’t think it’s earth-shattering to hear mothers admit that being a mom is often frustrating, thankless and sucky, but it’s nice to see Charlotte get a little depth. Becoming a mom was a big to-do on Charlotte’s life list and she’s always been concerned with maintaining that perfect storybook life. It’s good to see her acknowledge that being a mom is not just about moist brownies and well-behaved children with sparkling smiles. Children are blessings, but they are also work (says the childless woman).
I said before that pretty much everything in this movie is extreme and that goes for the depiction of Muslims as well. There are evil merciless men who try to hunt down the ladies in a crowded market and westernized women who wear ultra-modern couture underneath their traditional garb and read banned books in their secret book club. I’ve seen many Muslim women rockin’ Chanel glasses and the latest LV bag, but this is an extreme version of that. The woman with the embroidered sleeves offers a bit of balance, but for the most part, this movie reduces Muslim traditions (and the Middle East in general) to Three Stooges-level schtick. Lots of the campy jokes (Camel toe? Ugh) I hate in the movie have something to do with Middle Eastern customs or characteristics.
Very Little Sex and Practically No City
Of course all of the sex in the movie occurs between Samantha and her various boy toys. That Danish architect is a gorgeous older man, but the writers muck it up my naming him Dick Spirt. Anywho, actual sex kinda takes a back seat, but there’s lots of sexuality in the form of an impromptu wet t-shirt contest and at least three close ups of erections. Some parts of the movie are like watching a really bad soft porn that’s supposed to be targeted to women.
And the city? The city?? About 90% of the movie is not in NYC, which is terrible for a movie that’s based on a show/book that includes NYC as the fifth main character.
All In All
I think this movie was supposed to be like a beautiful sugary treat for SATC fans–tasty, but all fluff. Unfortunately, I could not get into it. The SATC HBO episodes had pretty good writing and great story arcs. I can’t take this transition to complete decadence with no substance. If there is to be another movie, please have real story lines for our girls and less campy crap.