Shoes. Clothing. Food. Cars. Furniture. Hotels. Above all other themes in “Sex and the City 2” (each marriage has its own rules; deep down, women are the same everywhere), the one director and writer Michael Scott King hits home the most is the theme of opulence.
During the Great Depression, Americans flocked to the movie theaters to get some escape from their real lives. And during our horrible economy, my guess is King wanted to give us a taste of a life we’ll never get to live — one where you can travel to Abu Dhabi in a plane where you have your own “suite,” have your own personal car to take you around the city and your own personal butler to bring you whatever you want, whatever you want. Reality, it ain’t. But during this recession, do we want to watch reality (a la “Up in the Air”) or do we want to escape with our four favorite girls from Manhattan? Some of us may want to do both (“Up in the Air” was an excellent film, by the way), but there’s nothing like watching four middle-aged woman parade around in a beautiful Middle Eastern city in true style.
The movie even starts with opulence, at Stanley (Willie Garson) and Anthony’s (Mario Cantone) over-the-top wedding in a gorgeous Connecticut inn. They have swans, a full men’s choir singing showtunes and Liza Minnelli as the officiant (just a recommendation — take a potty break during her version of Beyonce’s “Single Ladies.”)
Carrie (Sarah Jessica Parker — in case you didn’t know by now) catches us up on how things have been going with our gals since the last movie opened two years ago. Miranda’s (Cynthia Nixon) boss hates her and won’t listen to any of her ideas; she ends up quitting. Charlotte (Kristin Davis) is having a rough time with 2-year-old Rose, who cries constantly. She also starts to worry that her husband Harry (Evan Handler) has a thing for her Irish, bra-less nanny (Alice Eve). Samantha (Kim Cattrall) is fighting being 52 by taking as many vitamins and hormone supplements as she can. And Carrie and Big (Chris Noth), a very unreal couple at times, have settled into a very real marriage slump, complete with frequently ordering takeout and staying at home watching TV.
Carrie is about at her wit’s end with her relationship “losing its sparkle” when Samantha gets to go on a business trip to Abu Dhabi — and, of course, brings all the girls with her. While in Abu Dhabi, Miranda becomes the all-knowing tour guide; Charlotte freaks out because she can’t get a hold of Harry; Samantha loses her hormone supplements and, consequently, her sex drive; and Carrie runs into — hold your breath — old boyfriend Aidan (John Corbett).
Although all of these storylines are good and true to the characters, I have to wonder that if these hadn’t been beloved characters people have been watching for 12 years now if all of this really would have worked. Something quite troublesome that happens during the girls’ sojourn to the Middle East is that Samantha won’t follow the traditional rules of the country — keeping her body covered, not making sexual innuendos and not having sex in public places. It’s all very Samantha, but also very inappropriate. Her actions cause problems for the girls in Abu Dhabi, and it all feels quite unnecessary.
The last 20 minutes or so of the movie seem jumbled, contrived and anti-climatic. However, I can forgive that for the characters staying true to form and for the few touching moments in the movie. I loved a scene where Miranda and Charlotte are brutally honest about how hard motherhood is. But, on the other hand, both women quip that they wonder how women without nannies handle it. There were many sarcastic laughs and murmurs in the theater at this line, and it made me think: Are they with it? The good majority of the mothers who are watching this now definitely don’t have professional help raising their kids!
So grounded in reality, this movie is not. It also doesn’t seem to have the heart of the first “Sex and the City” movie. But if you can ignore the unattainable lifestyle this movie is shoving in your face and the culturally-offensive segments in Abu Dhabi, you’ll enjoy seeing your old friends up to their usual tricks. Just sit back, relax and enjoy the opulence!
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