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Sex and the City 2

February 22, 2011

Sex and the City 2 (2010)
Director: Michael Patrick King
Actors: Sarah Jessica Parker, Kim Cattrall, Kristin Davis

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Synopsis: Carrie Bradshaw (Sarah Jessica Parker) and her three erstwhile buddies are invited on an all-expenses luxury holiday to Abu Dhabi, and all their respective dilemmas and crises play out against the backdrop of their stay in the UAE…

Review: Amid the sheer weight of negative comment about this film, most of which I agree with – from its vapid celebration of the garishly ostentatious sensibilities of its characters, to the egregious decision to shift most of the action from New York to Abu Dhabi, and the increasing humiliation of Kim Cattrall’s menopausal maneater – perhaps the wider indictment is that the project represents a huge slap-in-the-face for the loyal hordes of Sex and the City fans, who have to put up with their favourite TV series being utterly trivialised in this manner.

I’m not usually an advocate of the Hollywood studio tendency to employ legions of script-doctors to dilute and sanitise the screenplay, but surely Sex and the City 2 was crying out for voices of sanity in the development process (presumably SATC writer-director Michael Patrick King was “untouchable” and had to rush the project through after the runaway commercial success of the first movie). Not only does the film have the ridiculous plot decisions mentioned earlier, but it’s incredibly clumsily scripted, with King making the cardinal sin more than once of having consecutive scenes of the same two actors talking (notably when Miranda and Charlotte are sharing their maternal strife in Abu Dhabi by a lift, and then at the bar some hours later). This lends the film an intensely slow and laboured feel.

The Abu Dhabi segment has generated much criticism, although interestingly it wasn’t so much the Islamo-satire that bothered me. In fact, I was more offended by the notion that the burka-wearing women are secretly in thrall to the designer lifestyle of Carrie and co, than the Samantha condom joke which I actually thought the only daring piece of sexual politicking in the whole film. Most pointless about the Abu Dhabi ‘interlude’ was the sheer amount of time spent gorging on the luxury designer lifestyle there, which would be fine if this was a bland hotel advertising piece, but not for a supposed feature film drama. The only surprising element being that most of these sequences were shot in Morocco, otherwise I would have sworn this was a transparent tourist promo for the UAE.

Ultimately, the failures of Sex and the City 2 boil down to a betrayal of the central essence of the story and characters passed down from the TV series – the clue is in the title, “Sex” and the “City”. Where once Carrie and her chums were all single, in their thirties, city girls living by the maxim ‘work hard, play hard’ and living recognisable professional lives, this movie sees them as prosperous but dull-as-ditchwater middle-aged wives and mothers, managing personal issues and neuroses that would be embarrassing on twenty-something girls, let alone the supposedly mature metro-feminists they’re meant to be. (February 2011)

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