Back in 2008 I saw the first Sex in the City film I thought it actually had its moments. I objected on a Busted Halo Sirius Radio interview with Fr. Dave Dwyer, CSP, that it was not a “chick flick” but had a heart-felt theme of authentic forgiveness. I don’t like the term “chick flick” because it lets men dismiss films with female leads and interests so I dared him to see it, which he did. He even invited me back on the show to chat about his thoughts on the film.
I hope that Fr. Dave doesn’t call to schedule an interview for this latest, and hopefully final, movie version of novelist’s Candace Bushnell’s fashion universe populated with four mature girl friends in Manhattan looking for love. A popular cable show that was edited for network television, a box office smash in its first cinema incarnation, Sex in the City 2 on the big screen is a wash.
Writer director Michael Patrick King evidently found Manhattan and the story so confining that he headed for Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates. He should have left it there, drifting off in a sand storm or placed the digital hard drive on the back of a camel heading deep into the dunes. The film takes forever to update us on the ladies who are all at a turning point in their lives. But wait! They are actually still growing up!
Carrie (Sarah Jessica Parker) and her husband “Mr. Big” (Chris Noth) have lost the sparkle two years after their marriage. They talk about kids but no, it’s just them. Big just wants to come home, have dinner, and watch TV; she still wants to party. Samantha (Kim Cattrall) is deep into fighting off middle age at 52 with the help of hormones derived from Hummus and sweet potatoes; Charlotte (Kristen Davis) is afraid her husband is falling for the gorgeous Irish nanny who cares for her two little girls; Miranda (Cynthia Nixon) the lawyer is frustrated with her job and quits to spend time with her husband and son and find something more meaningful to do. When Samantha snags an invitation to a mega luxury resort in Abu Dhabi for the four of them, off they go.
What follows is a “spoiler” of a blemished film, despite some good lines and funny moments.
The most important thing to realize is that the film is poorly written and constructed and is just too long (at almost 2 1/2 hours). It becomes boring and the conclusion is flimsy because Carrie and Big are still focused on their own comfort. He gets her to finally wear a wedding ring, a really big and expensive black diamond, so she will remember their marriage vows, which they never really exchanged because of what, happened in Sex in the City 1.
What made me most uncomfortable in Sex in the City 2 is the way it mocks Islamic life. Sure, according to the Western mind, there is a double standard in the Muslim culture as regards male and female relationships, but this film is so insensitive as to deeply offend those who don’t appreciate raunchy American humor. Although Charlotte continually wants the girls to cover their bare limbs out of respect, you can imagine how well this works. The film is soft porn; the couple of explicit scenes between Samantha and available males, are vulgar. Samantha’s overtures to a male companion within sight of Muslim males made the audience laugh, true, but this does not validate the filmmaker’s bad taste. But what does he care? He’s laughing all the way to the bank.
The filmmaker’s gay gag runs throughout the film, beginning with a “marriage” between two of Carrie’s guy friends, the servants at the resort, and the revelation that Charlotte doesn’t need to worry about the nanny poaching her husband; Erin prefers other nannies.
To be fair, housewives, professional women, indeed everyone, can get burnout or become insecure in relationships; we all question our life choices at one moment or another. It is sometimes good to get away, to take a break. The recurring conversation about fidelity is always a good one to have (the two gay men joke that they only have to be faithful in the states that recognize their marriage.) I would like to say that fidelity is the main theme of the film, but it is in competition with getting to the plane on time so the girls don’t have to give up their individual luxury berths in First Class and fly coach like the rest of us mortals.
Sex in the City 2 is a farce and viewers know it. It is hard to sympathize with Charlotte who cries in the pantry when her daughters are out of control (one won’t stop crying and the other plants frosted handprints on the rear of her vintage slacks) because she is so rich and can afford a gorgeous Irish nanny. True, she and Samantha offer a toast to moms who do not have nannies; so sweet of them.
Carrie runs into Aiden (John Corbett), a former boy friend, at the souk (market). They have dinner and share a kiss. She feels terribly guilty. She calls Big and confesses, which is how the filmmaker was able to actually bring the film to a conclusion.
Sex in the City 2 is overdone, overwrought, and much ado about very little; even fashion takes a hit. The filmmaker’s creed is what Cyndi Lauper (and now Myley Cyrus who makes a cameo in the film along with Penelope Cruz) sings about: “Girls just wanna have fun.”
Sex in the City 2 is what a completely secular life looks like as produced by the Hollywood fantasy machine. It’s selfish and superficial, but this is an eternal source of material for humorists. Charlotte and Miranda are moving ahead, Carrie is stuck in a vacuum, and Samantha, well, she and Peter Pan have a lot in common. The joke is getting really old.
Come to think of it, this would make a good radio interview. Busted Halo: call me.