Neurologist

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‘Sex and the City 2’ Movie Review

Kim Cattrall, Sarah Jessica Parker, Cynthia Nixon, and Kristin Davis Sex and the City 2 photoKim Cattrall, Sarah Jessica Parker, Cynthia Nixon, and Kristin Davis in ‘Sex and the City 2.’

© New Line Cinema

Sex leaves the City and the sequel suffers for it. Why, with all the possible story-lines that must have sprung to mind between the release of Sex and the City the first movie and shooting Sex and the City 2, was it decided that having Carrie, Charlotte, Samantha and Miranda take off to Abu Dhabi would be the best idea for Sex and the City 2? And if sending the four friends to the Middle East had to be included in the plot, why was making them into shrill, obnoxiously rich and overly pampered out-of-touch women who ignore the culture of a country to shove their own hedonistic ways in the faces of the people who live there deemed the way to go? This sequel makes the four fashion plates into the very definition of ‘ugly Americans’ as they toss out unimaginative one-liners and campaign for female empowerment, all while living lavishly and being waited on hand and foot.
Over the years we’ve experienced the romantic trials and tribulations of four best friends living in New York, vicariously taking a bite out of the Big Apple as we sat back and watched the escapades of Carrie and her friends on HBO, beginning with that first show way back in 1998. The series didn’t always hit its mark, and I know I drifted in and out as viewer over the course of the show’s six year run, never sticking around for an entire season. But not once did I actively intensely dislike the women at its core. I didn’t always agree with their actions and there were times I found myself totally disconnected from where the show took a particular character, but I still felt like when all was said and done, I basically knew who these four women were. Sex and the City 2 takes those years of my friendship from afar and kicks them to the curb. The uber-rich and pampered princesses of Sex and the City 2 hold but the faintest resemblance to the lovely, albeit often shallow, ladies of the series.

The Story

Sex and the City 2 picks up two years after the events of the first film. Carrie’s married to Big (Chris Noth), they’ve decided not to have children, and Big now prefers a night home on the couch eating take-out to a night out on the town. Carrie, who keeps putting the most atrocious things on her head (including a black crown that looks like something out of Chronicles of Narnia), is struggling with this new development. She wants to dress to the nines and go out to dinner, and Big’s preference for their designer couch, Deadliest Catch, and old black & white movies is causing a rift in their still-young marriage.Miranda’s boss at the law firm absolutely hates her, holding up a hand to shush her whenever she opens her mouth. A brief side note: Given the dialogue Cynthia Nixon has to utter, that’s actually a wise move. Work is driving her crazy and her supportive hubby suggests she just quit and find something new. After all, it’s so easy to get a well-paying job you absolutely love in these hard economic times. Out of touch much?

Cynthia Nixon, Sarah Jessica Parker, Kim Cattrall, and Kristin Davis Sex and the City 2 photoCynthia Nixon, Sarah Jessica Parker, Kim Cattrall, and Kristin Davis in ‘Sex and the City 2.’

© New Line Cinema

Meanwhile, Charlotte’s happily married and raising two cute girls, although the youngest never seems to stop crying even when she’s snuggled up between mom and dad in bed. Despite the fact she has a nanny to take over whenever she needs time off, money to do whatever she wants, and nothing of any importance to occupy her time other than her kids, Charlotte’s feeling miserable. But, being Charlotte, she tries to hide her suffering beneath a bright, sunny smile and a brave face.And Samantha is going through menopause, engaging in a battle with her aging body she’s determined to win at all costs. A firm believer in Suzanne Somer’s bioidentical hormone replacement therapy (Sex and the City 2 nearly doubles as an infomercial on Somer’s book), Samantha is struggling to keep her sex drive revved up to its needle-bending level. Fortunately for everyone who comes in contact with her, Samantha willingly shares all the intimate details of what she’s experiencing.

After an opening hour featuring the most extravagant gay wedding ever staged in a feature film, a shaky rendition of Beyonce’s “Single Ladies” by the legendary Liza Minnelli, and a red carpet movie premiere that finds 50+ year old Samantha wearing the same dress as a certain famous 17 year old, Samantha’s offered an all expenses paid luxurious trip to Abu Dhabi. Why? Because a billionaire sheikh has just opened a luxury hotel there and he thinks Samantha would be the perfect person to handle the PR since she was able to take Smith Jerrod (Jason Lewis) from obscurity to stardom. Shaky credentials there, but no matter, that’s the storyline as dreamed up by writer/producer/director Michael Patrick King.

So off to Abu Dhabi (actually Morocco) the foursome go, dozens of bags in tow along with lots of emotional baggage they’ll all need to deal with before King allows us to finally escape the theater after just about the longest 2 1/2 hours you’ll experience.

The Acting

To say Parker, Nixon, Cattrall, and Davis are just going through their paces isn’t entirely fair, but it’s close to the truth. The material’s likely to blame for most of the emotionally vapid scenes and not the actresses who know these characters so well. Noth’s back as Big and he’s fine, doing what you’d expect but in such a nice, understated fashion that he stands out from the females. No other male makes any impact whatsoever – this one’s really all about the ladies.

The Bottom Line

If you pay no attention to the actresses (other than Kristin Davis) and no attention to 90% of the costumes, Sex and the City 2 is fabulous to look at. The colors are rich and the scenery’s spectacular. However, the lighting on the leads is horrendous. Davis is the only main character to escape the harsh realities of age usually disguised so well by skilled cinematographers with gentle lighting.There were a few scenes, though rare, I genuinely adored in the film. The outlandish, over-the-top gay wedding that kicks off the film had me mistakenly believing Sex and the City 2 was going to be an exuberant celebration of the friendship between Carrie, Samantha, Charlotte, and Miranda. Also hitting all the right notes is a touching, completely authentic scene in which Carrie and Big bare their souls towards the end of the film. And when Charlotte and Miranda sit down over drinks to commiserate over the tribulations of parenthood, their conversation is both moving and honest.

Charlotte’s bra-less nanny, played delightfully by Alice Eve, is also one of the high points of the film. She’s a real breath of fresh air in an otherwise stale story. But even the nanny’s funny storyline gets squashed with an ending that wraps a bow so tightly on her tale as to completely deflate it.

And can I just take a moment to point out a scene that drove me crazy? If you’re trying to show Charlotte as a loving mother who puts her children first, why is the one real domestic scene of her interacting with her daughters one with her whipping up dozens of cupcakes and decorating them with bright pink icing while wearing a vintage white skirt? And then when one of her daughters lays her icing-covered hands on mom’s rear end – leaving two cute handprints – Charlotte goes ballistic. You wear the outfit, you pay the price – isn’t that the saying? If not, it should be. Seriously, what woman does that? Even for a Sex and the City scene, that’s just ridiculous. Yes, I realize Charlotte’s going through a rough period having to take care of two young girls while being a wealthy stay at home mom with a devoted husband who employs a full-time nanny to take care of the kids, but a vintage white skirt? Come on now.

Cynthia Nixon, Sarah Jessica Parker, Kim Cattrall, and Kristin Davis Sex and the City 2 photoCynthia Nixon, Sarah Jessica Parker, Kim Cattrall, and Kristin Davis in ‘Sex and the City 2.’

© New Line Cinema

Back to the bottom line… An outrageously inappropriate and campy karaoke version of “I Am Woman” performed by the foursome in an Abu Dhabi club was another one of the film’s low points. I also didn’t find the ladies making jokes about the traditional clothing worn by the women of the region to be anything other than in poor taste. But that was par for the course in this sequel. The easy path in finding a joke was always taken, no pun was spared, no reference to Samantha’s raging hormones or lack thereof was ever left unspoken.Speaking of Samantha’s hyperactive sex drive, it’s provided plenty of fodder for the series and the first film, but in this sequel it just feels a little creepy. Miranda keeps trying to get her to cover up out of respect for the customs and religion of the area, but Samantha insists on parading around in barely there attire, pushing the limits of what’s acceptable – but to what end? Are we supposed to accept that these wealthy New Yorkers, and Samantha in particular, are trying to help end sexism in the Middle East? The issue is so trivialized that in the film’s silliest scene, the Americans are taken in by burkha-clad women who open their outfits to reveal the latest designer fashions from America are hidden underneath. Women power! You go buy those dresses! Stand up for your right to purchase overpriced clothing!

Sex and the City 2 may not kill the franchise, and it will probably do fine at the box office (at least the first weekend before word of mouth/Twitter affects its performance), but it’s nowhere near as entertaining and joyful as the series or the first film. The question I immediately asked myself as I walked out of the theater was would I want to see more of these ladies after spending two and a half hours in their presence in the sequel. My answer: No. Stick a Jimmy Choo in it, Sex and the City‘s done.

GRADE: D+

Sex and the City 2 was directed by Michael Patrick King and is rated R for some strong sexual content and language.

Theatrical Release: May 27, 2010

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May 31, 2010 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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