Sex and the City 2 represents everything that is wrong with American cinema. Where to begin. How about with full disclosure. I liked the show. A lot. I’ve seen every episode. Its frankness and unblinking candor toward female sexuality made it compulsively watchable.
Remember the episode when Carrie called Big and he rushed over to her apartment? Then we cut to black, only to fade open on the sight of them post-coital, resting among a thick haze of cigarette smoke, the entire room bathed in a deep, lush blue. That was sexy.
And then there was the episode when all the ladies went to Atlantic City. There’s a scene in that show (which ultimately was the highlight of the entire series), when Carrie watches the sunset while sitting on the boardwalk. An older couple sits behind her and Carrie can’t help but eavesdrop on their humorous-if-not-bickering conversation. She gives them an unnoticed look of complete contentment. “God, I wish I had that,” she’s thinking. That was endearing.
Sexy and endearing. Two characteristics the show handled so well, and two traits neither feature film has been able to grasp.
The biggest problem with the first film was its exhausting running time (which, not surprisingly, is no shorter the second time around.) We’re used to a 23 minute episode, not an exaggerated two and half hour disaster. But at least that film had some redeemable qualities (I’m being generous by using the word “some”).
From the opening “gay wedding” scene in the sequel, we soon learn we’re in some sort of horrific nightmare. The first time the film loses its dignity is during Liza Minnelli’s atrocious rendition of Beyonce’s “Single Ladies.” The performance may have you questioning if you’re in the right theatre, as it resembles something out of a horror movie.
Each lady, you see, is having problems at home or at work. Charlotte thinks her bread-winning husband may bang the non-bra wearing nanny. Samantha can’t out trick her age. Carrie is mad that her husband wants… time to relax (?), and Miranda, with the only reasonable issue, gets treated like an insect by her male boss.
With their troubles in mind, the ladies head to Abu Dhabi at the drop of a hat. And this, my dear friends, is where it gets really bad.
As the film progressed, I had a startling revelation: that this movie was one of the most culturally insensitive films I’ve ever seen. The women feed the stereotype of “dumb Americans” by, among several other things, flaunting too much skin in an über-conservative country. Do me a favor and switch the scenario around. A movie about four Muslim women who travel to New York City on vacation. While in the Big Apple, they make fun of American’s by causing outlandish scenes in Times Square and pressing their religious and cultural views on everyone they run into. American film audiences would call them terrorists.
Aside from the cultural thoughtlessness, the movie is just plain boring. Really, who wants to watch a flick about four very rich women bitching about how much their lives suck? Ninety percent of the people watching the movie do not have as much money as the characters do, so they cannot, any in way, relate to their problems. Charlotte is the worst. A well-to-do, stay-at-home housewife who complains about her kids and the affair her husband isn’t having with the live-in nanny. Hey, Charlotte, get a goddamn job, or raise your kids yourself.
Two other things and I’m done. Despite its title, this film is neither sexy or takes place in The City. Samantha has two very brief, very unsexy encounters, and the shots of New York, namely in the grueling opening credits, look like something out of an American Express commercial.
Lastly, there is a scene early in the film when I said, almost aloud, “Oh my God, it could change, right here, it could get better,” simply because a new character is introduced. This is an actress that can display more emotional range with a single glance than the four leads can do throughout an entire movie. Yet, director Michael Patrick King only gives Penelope Cruz, what, two lines? I just don’t get it.
The ladies of Sex and the City 2 bitch bitch bitch, whine whine whine, only to have every single problem in their lives magically fixed in the last five minutes. Oh how utterly convenient.
In Roger Ebert’s recent review of The Human Centipede he said, “I am required to award stars to movies I review. This time, I refuse to do it. The star rating system is unsuited to this film. Is the movie good? Is it bad? Does it matter? It is what it is and occupies a world where the stars don't shine.”
That’s a very good point. Sex and the City 2 is beyond worthy of any grade. This year marks the beginning of a new decade, and we already have a film vying for the top spot as the worst movie made during the next ten years.