After the disappointment I felt following the first Sex and the City movie, I’m not sure why I was surprised to be horrified by the latest flick. Maybe I was tricked by that fabulous trailer or just excited at the prospect of Aidan’s return to Carrie’s arms. Or maybe my surprise was not prompted by the pointlessness of the movie (that’s to be expected I suppose), but how it degrades the characters I’d learned to love over six seasons of trial and tribulation. I never expected the girls to become so unlikeable and so much more vapid, to the point of being offensive. I was embarrassed for them in this movie. When Miranda becomes the most realistic and the most likable, something’s wrong.
Here’s the review of Sex and the City 2 that I wrote for Vox magazine’s website. I had to cut it down for them, but this is the original article in its entirety:
Hot dates and hotly anticipated movies have something in common: at the end of the night, the least-desired response you want to be shouting is, “That’s it?” But pondering the point of Sex and the City 2, the sequel to the 2008 hit film based on HBO’s beloved series, was the only thing on my mind after leaving the theater.
I’ll confess that I’ve seen every episode ten times over, read the book upon which the series is based, and am a proud member of Team Aidan, but even this Sex and the City fan couldn’t let my love for Carrie and her Manolos blind me from the obvious: this movie is a pointless, tiresome, and often offensive waste of time. Lacking focus and direction, Sex and the City 2 can’t even be dismissed as an amusing distraction because the laughs are few and far in-between. What’s most disappointing? Like an irreversible scuffmark on a cherished pair of stilettos, this sequel tarnishes the legacy of the acclaimed show.
The movie’s biggest blunder is its lack of plot. It begins with a very brief flashback sequence that serves to introduce each lady, before whisking the audience away to the country for a gay wedding. The wedding is the film’s failed attempt at camp. It’s a spectacle complete with swans and an embarrassing performance of “Single Ladies” by icon Liza Minnelli. It should start off the story on an entertaining note, but it’s not nearly as much fun as it tries to be. From there, we visit Samantha, Miranda, Charlotte, and Carrie individually, seeing how their lives have changed in the two years since the first film’s conclusion. Aside from Carrie’s marital difficulties with Big, there isn’t much drama, a stark contrast from the first film. Rather the bulk of Sex and the City 2 revolves around the fab four’s trip to a glamorous resort in Abu Dhabi, an adventure highlighted by rampant stereotyping of Middle Eastern men and women, with the New Yorkers’ discomforting displays of ignorance and high-maintenance providing the most cringe-worthy moments.
For six seasons, the people behind Sex and the City boasted the trials and tribulations of Ms. Bradshaw and her besties as an empowering testament to strong women. While this latest venture in the franchise tries desperately to send the same message (at times as blatantly as an awkward karaoke rendition of “I Am Woman”), the true implication to viewers is decidedly the opposite. According to this film, to be a true woman you must compromise your desires in favor of your husband’s, resist aging at all costs, and sport designer duds and heels even while riding a camel in the desert. Tall order, right? What’s worse is that the Middle Eastern women in the film aren’t depicted as true females until they whip out their anti-aging books, reveal expensive designer clothing beneath their robes, and share a laugh with the American girls. Like most things in the Sex and the City films, problems are alleviated by a shared interest in materialism.
Rumblings of a third movie have begun since the sequel’s release, but honestly, here’s hoping they resist the fat paychecks and don’t go there. What could another film possibly cover? The franchise is no longer fresh, provocative, or insightful, all attributes that made Sex and the City so legendary in the first place. So instead of seeing this movie in theaters, take the $8 you’d spend, head to Ninth Street Video, and visit the ladies in their prime. You’ll enjoy a much more satisfying climax.
Links to other reviews I enjoyed reading: