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Back to Section One | Back to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, May 28, 2010 - Volume 38 Issue 22
Sex and the City 2 spends too much time in the wrong place
Arts & Entertainment
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Sex and the City 2 spends too much time in the wrong place

by Ron Anders - SGN A&E Writer

Sex and the City 2
Opening May 28


There are arguably two camps when it comes to HBO's most captivating creation, Sex and the City. First, there are those who adore spending time with our four ladies (of the fashion apocalypse) as they make their way around New York. Their Big Apple is often delicious, sometimes rotten, and always golden. This faction never tires of the on-again, off-again romances, the gossip-filled brunches, and the obsession with Manolos and men. Then there is the enemy camp, which fails to identify with or find any humor in the adventures of four self-absorbed fashionistas. Indeed, some think they are stereotypic stand-ins for Gay men who ogle muscles and money. As I have said previously in these pages, I fall blissfully in the first category. Aside from spending TV time with Lucy, Ricky, Fred, and Ethel, this writer's other fave foursome is made up of none other than Carrie, Miranda, Samantha, and Charlotte. Sex and the City: The Movie (2008) far exceeded all financial expectations, raking in a whopping $415 million worldwide - assuring us of a much-anticipated sequel. Sex and the City 2 flounces into theaters this weekend to inaugurate this year's summer blockbuster season.

The movie bolts out of the starting gate with a big Gay wedding: Carrie's friends Stanford and Anthony are the unlikely grooms (how did these two get together, anyway?) - joined in matrimony by a guest-starring diva. (Hint: she's crazy with a "z.") As we reacquaint ourselves with the other denizens of SATC, we find that some of the bloom has worn off the rosy relationships. Carrie (the ever-appealing Sarah Jessica Parker) and John/"Mr. Big" (Chris Noth, in a beautifully understated performance) are at odds, as she wants to paint the town and he wants to zone out in front of the TV; Charlotte, having always yearned for motherhood, finds herself completely worn out from parenting two youngsters; Miranda struggles with a boss who perennially underappreciates her; and Samantha wages a comic battle with menopause.

When PR whiz Samantha gets an all-expenses-paid trip to Abu Dhabi, she brings along her gal-pal posse. While their adventures in the sand dunes (captured beautifully by cinematographer John Thomas) are sometimes amusing, the film gets derailed in this hour-long sequence in the desert. Nowhere to be found is the delicate balance of sexual wit and poignancy which put the television series in a category all its own - a jewel in the bleak wasteland of television programming. The movie never recovers from its Middle Eastern journey. In turning SATC2 into a global adventure, writer/director Michael Patrick King seems to have lost his light touch. Samantha's comic take on menopause is funny the first time around, but after an umpteenth slapstick reference to hot flashes, we begin to lose our sense of humor. This is an especially egregious waste of the exquisite comic talents of Kim Cattrall. The film's satirical attempts to shed feminist light on Muslim culture fall flat.

When Sex and the City debuted on HBO in 1998, it became a pop culture touchstone, a cultural clarion call to 30-something urban women. Its depiction of feminine empowerment spoke for itself in unapologetic portraits of four women whose approaches to relationships were intriguingly different from each other: Carrie's hopeful/cynical romanticism, Samantha's fearless sexual escapades, Charlotte's prim, eternally optimistic schoolmarm, and Miranda's aggressive-but-vulnerable attorney. In SATC2, Mr. King is not content to let our heroines' actions speak for themselves. Instead, there are far too many wince-inducing moments meant to underscore their devotion to each other: Samantha referring to her friends as "soulmates" (as if she had been watching too many Oprah reruns); our ladies performing a karaoke version of "I Am Woman." It's great fun to follow our heroines into their 40s and 50s - but why allow their feminism to become condescendingly stale when our heroines are still vital? The film regains its footing again when Samantha and company get back to New York - but for the audience, it's too little, too late.

Amidst all the fabulous clothes and jewelry (and they are fabulous), there is one golden moment in SATC2 in which Charlotte and Miranda, endearingly played by Kristin Davis and the estimable Cynthia Nixon, make a comic commiseration about motherhood (over cocktails, natch). Their affection for and identification with each other are heartfelt and funny. Since there will likely be a SATC3, let's hope that Mr. King and company remember that it is these small moments which endear us to our tales of the city. A trip to Abu Dhabi may be nice, but even Mr. Big would acknowledge that bigger is not necessarily better.

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